The president of Christ the King High School is reaching out to the community to explain and garner support for a charter middle school that he hopes to launch on the school’s Metropolitan Avenue campus as early as September 2013.
Michael Michel met with Community Board 5’s education committee Tuesday night to discuss his idea for a school for grades six through eight that would have about 120 slots per year, and ultimately would serve about 350 students in the now vacant B wing of Christ the King
“I have 10 empty classrooms here,” he said, guiding members of the committee along the corridor that used to house math classrooms. “If we ever wanted more room, we could go to the second floor.”
Michel told the committee that the school, initially built for 3,000 students, has had enrollments as high as 1,800 during his 19 years there and now sits at about 975. In recent years the school has added successful day care and pre-k programs, as well as a tutoring program than now assists more than 80 high school students.
He said Christ the King has the room for a charter school, and that the 24th District has the need for extra classroom space.
“It would not be Christ the King Middle School,” Michel said. “It would be a separate entity with its own board of directors. We would be the landlord and would charge the school rent. I have classrooms that have been empty for years, but it still costs the same to heat the building and for snow removal, security and maintenance. It just makes sense to do this.”
While the middle school would have to share some facilities with the high school, such as the gym, auditorium and possibly the cafeteria, he also said the new program would be completely locked off from the high school for security purposes, much the same way the day care facility is.
“The principal at the high school and the head of the day care program never have to interact,” he said.
Some of Board 5’s questions could not be answered, because, as Michel said, he has not yet drawn up a proposal or filed an application with city education officials.
“We decided to put the cart before the horse and talk to the community first,” he said. “I’ve seen it lots of times where schools fill out their applications, set up their curriculums and then go to the community. They’re asked, ‘Why do you come to us now when you’ve been planning this for two years?’ We’ve decided to put the cart before the horse because we believe this is good for the community. And the public just might have some ideas that we can use.”
He said it would not be a Catholic middle school that would compete with St. Margaret’s, and would not be asking for land, building space or resources that otherwise might have been directed to public schools in the area.
He also said students who attended the charter school for three years would have no advantage over anyone else when it came to applying for admission to Christ the King for ninth grade.
Under city regulations, a charter seeking more than 120 students would be required to hold an open lottery. Michel would like to see about 120 sixth graders the first year. Seventh grade would be added the next year and eighth the year after that.
It would first be open to all eligible students in District 24. Should there not be 120 applications, every child applying would be admitted and then there would be a lottery for students outside the district for remaining vacancies.
But Pat Grayson, CB 5’s education chairwoman, said that was being optimistic.
“I think you’re going to put out your proposal, you’ll get 600 or 800 applications and choose your 120 who think they’ll be assured admission to Christ the King,” she said.
Michel said he has been reaching out to potential board members in recent weeks. He will apply to the city in January, and the board will work on just what kind of school it will propose for approval.