• December 13, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

DOE and Success ponder next moves

Charter group flatly rejects former Catholic school in South Ozone park

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:39 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

Now what?

After two years, the de Blasio administration on Nov. 12 identified a building to be designated as a new middle school for Success Academy students leaving fourth grade this coming spring.

On Nov. 20, Success officials rejected the proposal to set up shop in the old Our Lady’s Catholic Academy on Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park, calling the 70-year-old building “inadequate and not comparable to Department of Education facilities.”

Success, in a statement emailed to the Chronicle, said the building would require a complete renovation to replace electrical wiring and mechanicals, repair water damage and restore all interiors and lighting, costing several million dollars.

Success also said the school that the administration says can house 500 students will accommodate only 330, resulting in Success outgrowing the space in one year.

The charter stated that under state Education Department guidelines, building capacity should be calculated as 100 square feet per pupil, which means the 33,000-square-foot Our Lady’s Catholic Academy can accommodate 330 students, not the 500 estimated by city officials.

“With only a multipurpose room, the school has neither a gym nor an auditorium, both of which are critical for middle school sports, theater, and assemblies,” Success stated.

“There are six public school buildings with hundreds of empty seats and basic facilities like gyms and auditoriums,” said Sandrian Campbell, parent of two Queens SA scholars, referrng to those in Southeast Queens. “The mayor is segregating our children in separate and unequal space.”

In response to an email from the Chronicle, DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said talks will continue.

“It’s a shame that Success Academy is declining such a great educational space, which is so hard to come by in Queens,” she wrote. “We’ll make sure someone takes advantage of the opportunity to use this building to serve public school students. We’ll discuss next steps with Success Academy.”

Barbot’s reply did not address the Chronicle’s questions regarding Success’ claims of the need for wholesale renovations and the potential cost.

Ann Powell, Success’ executive vice president for Public Affairs, also said in a phone conversation that the next step is further talks with the DOE.

Success founder Eva Moskowitz, a frequent sparring partner of Mayor de Blasio, said in the school’s statement that she is undeterred —and backed by state law.

“‘Equity and excellence for all’ means all — all public school children, district and charter,” Moskowitz said. “These children deserve equitable space.”

Moskowitz added that by state law, the city must offer space that is “reasonable, appropriate and comparable and in the community school district to be served by the charter school and otherwise in reasonable proximity.”

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  • Linnster posted at 3:29 pm on Fri, Nov 29, 2019.

    Linnster Posts: 10

    DeBlasio was too busy running for president (like he had a chance) to take care of the City's business. Then again, he hasn't done much for the City even when he wasn't running. He is arguable one of the worst mayors we've ever had.

  • Buster57 posted at 9:59 pm on Wed, Nov 27, 2019.

    Buster57 Posts: 79

    Eva, go buy your own building and stop sucking the DOE dry of it's sorely needed funds. YOU are depriving thousands of students a decent place to thrive and learn because you keep taking our money. You are paid millions, why don't you put your money where your big mouth is if you care so deeply for ALL students.