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Queens Chronicle

New charter school bid at August Martin

Second application in two years set for public hearing on April 17

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2015 10:30 am

For the second time in two years, the city’s Department of Education will host a public hearing on a proposal to co-locate a new charter school within August Martin High School in Jamaica.

New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science IV would, if approved next month, open in September with between 115 and 140 ninth-grade students, adding one grade level per year until 2018-19, when it will have grades nine through 12 and between 460 and 560 students.

The DOE has scheduled a public hearing on the co-location for 6 p.m. on Friday, April 17, at the school, which is located at 156-10 Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica.

Those wishing to speak at the public hearing can sign up beginning at 5:30 p.m. that day. Written comments can be sent via email to d27proposals@schools.nyc.gov.

The DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy is scheduled to vote on the application at a meeting beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, at MS 131 at 100 Hester St. in Manhattan.

Adrienne Adams, chairwoman of Community Board 12, expressed her disappointment on March 18, both during and after the session. Adams said she opposes co-locations as a matter of principle.

“I think every school should have its own building,” she said, adding that the school proposed last year did find its own home before ever opening up in August Martin.

Many critics of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg thought the practice of co-locations was left behind when Mayor de Blasio took office.

“So did I,” Adams said.

De Blasio, since taking office in January 2014, has lost on the issue of charter schools both in court and in dustups with Gov. Cuomo.

According to a DOE report from 2013-14, the August Martin building has a capacity of 1,931 students, but serves only 906 this year between August Martin and Voyages Prep — South Queens Transfer High School, which also shares the building.

Last April’s public hearing drew only about 20 people and featured only five speakers, prompting a cover photo on the Queens Chronicle featuring an auditorium of empty chairs.

“I remember that,” Adams admitted.

She said she hopes that with enough notice more people will be interested in coming out this year.

The school sits in the district of Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), whose office said they had only learned of the hearing this week.

The Chronicle was unable to determine as of Wednesday’s deadline where the councilman stands on the new application, though he has in the past been a passionate opponent of co-locations and was an unabashed critic of Blooomberg over the practice.

When Wills spoke in opposition to the 2014 proposal at August Martin, he was a party to an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit aimed at stopping co-location.

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