2010-04-02 / Letters

Thoughts On The Challenge Charter

Dear Editor,

My name is Tonyia Dos.Santos and I am the parent of a fourth grade student at Goldie Maple Academy / PS/MS 333 in District 27. I am writing to you today regarding the proposal for Challenge Leadership Academy Charter School to co-locate in the building with Goldie Maple Academy. There are a multitude of reasons that this proposal should be turned down. I wish to focus on the reasons that you hear the least about. The hardships faced by children who are entering into a shared space /co-located school. My daughter attended Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School (PPA) from 2005 to 2008. This charter was in a shared space agreement / colocated within the building that houses MS 53 Q. For the charter school children it was borderline disastrous. Many aspects of the program the charter offered were left unrealized due to the spatial limitations. The charter school children ate lunch at 10:50 a.m. We all knew this was not condoned and against DOE policy, however, that was the only recourse to ensure that the 250 children (PPA capacity 2008) had opportunity to use the cafeteria for lunch. The kindergartners ate lunch in the classrooms, and our fifth graders took their food with them upstairs to their classrooms so we were able to vacate the lunchroom for the other school’s children by 11:30 a.m. when their first lunch began. As far as utilizing the gym for our children, we would have to run in and out so as not to conflict with the other school’s usage times. There were times when our children went for months and never used the gym. I remember my feelings of frustration and disappointment when my child cried because her gym periods for the week were canceled because there was nowhere to have it. Using the gymnasium after the other school dismissed since our day ran longer was not possible because the gym belonged to a PAL program after school. The same thing applies here at this location because we have a yearround PAL Beacon program running out of this building after school and on Saturdays.

I subsequently removed my child from that program (PPA) when it became a reality that the space that PPA moved to (after staying four years in what was originally supposed to be a two-year agreement) was going to be trailers or as we liked to call them “modular” units. Those children remain in those modular units at Beach 67 Street. I sat on that school’s Board for two years. I remember the plans that were derailed because of the spatial limits. It would be a severe disservice to the children and the families of those children coming into that program with Challenge Charter unless they have their own building before opening their doors. It is tantamount to buying furniture before you have a house Challenge Charter’s proposal claims there would be no negative impacts if they were to co-locate at 365 Beach 56 Street, the location of Goldie Maple Academy PS/MS 333 Q. Having been there and done that I cannot see how there could not be any negative impacts. I believe that in the interest of starting their “business,“ the leaders of Challenge Charter are not considering the children they claim to want to serve so well. It is up to you for that now. Please consider the CHILDREN FIRST and vote NO to this proposal to co-locate Challenge Charter at the site of Goldie Maple Academy PS/MS 333. I thank you for your time.


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