No Success for Southeast Queens co-location proposals 1

Proposals for Success Academy to co-locate in two Queens schools have been withdrawn following months of opposition. Above, the charter network's founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz, speaking with the Chronicle back in 2019.

Proposals for Success Academy to be co-located in two Queens schools have been withdrawn and dropped from this week’s Panel for Educational Policy agenda.

The plans drummed up opposition in recent months from the MS 72 and Springfield Gardens Educational Campus communities, elected officials and the teacher’s union as Success fought to make its case to share the buildings.

The proposals were set to be heard on Tuesday, along with another Success proposal for the Bronx, but the meeting was updated to say “rescheduled” for Wednesday, which the regular PEP monthly meeting was already set for, on the city Department of Education website. It now says that the proposals have been withdrawn. The other item that was on the agenda, the proposed grade truncation of PS 150 from a K-6 school to a K-5 school in Building Q150, will now be heard at the Wednesday meeting.

“After hearing from community members throughout this entire process that the proposals would create significant challenges for the new schools and the existing co-located schools, the Success Academy proposals involving buildings X113 in District 11, Q420 in District 29, and Q072 in District 28 have been removed from this week's PEP agenda,” schools Chancellor David Banks said in a prepared statement on Monday.

Input was gathered, he said, through joint public hearings, meetings, building walkthroughs, meetings with Community Education Councils and school leadership teams, and engagement with other stakeholders. 

Critics opposed the co-locations in Queens for reasons including overcrowding, grouping elementary-aged students with high school students and taking away resources, all of which Success CEO and Founder Eva Moskowitz rebutted.

Success did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But in an interview with the Chronicle last week, Moskowitz said the school buildings were underutilized, with MS 72 at 43 percent capacity and the high school at 63 percent. She also said that putting elementary aged kids in buildings with high school students has never posed a problem for the charter network. 

Charters are entitled to use vacant space in DOE buildings, and, Moskowitz said, otherwise she could sue to get a location not shared with existing programs. 

“We are committed to continue to work with Success Academies to find suitable facilities for their new schools, as we are required to do by law,” Banks continued in the statement.

Earlier this month, Borough President Donovan Richards came out against the co-locations, which Moskowitz called a “significant blow.”

“I think it's pretty significant that Donovan Richards is opposing this, like he's supposed to represent all of Queens — charter parents, district parents. And that's a significant blow to us that someone who has expressed support of charters is coming out against this proposal,” she said last week. 

In a prepared statement on Monday, Richards said, “Students across Southeast Queens have been forced to endure years of systemic disinvestment in their schools, punctuated by a seemingly endless cycle of co-locations that further devalues the education our children receive.”

He continued, “Throughout this process, it was clear that co-locating Success Academy with MS 72 and SGEC would present significant and entirely avoidable challenges for both campuses, negatively impacting the education of our public school students.”

Richards added that the focus must be on improving public education and noted funding allocations from his office to the two Queens schools.