Space-sharing between traditional schools and charter schools continues to incite anxiety in New York City but two articles, both out today, depict very different outcomes for students, teachers, and communities. While popular charter schools struggle to expand in a city with sky-high real estate costs (see my post yesterday for political context), some traditional school buildings are awash with empty seats. In fact, this week Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina announced that next year the city would consolidate 25 schools to serve students more cost-efficiently.
Yet sharing is tough. It requires leadership and collaboration.
Today the New York Times reports on a fractious co-location between Junior High School 50 in Brooklyn and a Success Academy charter school. Years ago JHS 50 had 1,100 students but the D.O.E. projected that next year the middle school would house only 165. Success Academy moved into part of the building. But enrollment at JHS 50 has increased 230 students and administrators fear that SA’s expansion will intrude on its space.
But it’s a different vibe in another Brooklyn co-location. Today Chalkbeat features an article co-authored by Jonathan Dant, principal of Success Academy Bensonhurst, and Erin Lynch, principal of I.S. 96 Seth Lowe in Brooklyn. The two public schools share space. They write,
[Principal] Mr. Honoroff is worried about losing dedicated space for some of those activities as the school struggles to fit into a smaller footprint next year. J.H.S. 50 will probably have to turn its dance studio into a regular classroom. It is likely to lose a new computer lab Mr. Reynoso financed. And several rooms will need to do double duty, as both a classroom and a music room, for instance.
We have found that there are opportunities for charter and district schools to work together to improve shared spaces and complement each other’s academic programming. A good example is how Seth Low spent the matching funds the school received for Success Academy’s renovation. (When a charter school spends more than $5,000 to renovate, state law requires the city to provide the same funding for every district school in the building.)
Principal Lynch chose to use the matching funds to add air conditioning to our cafeteria, improving a shared space. This summer, Success is installing padding to the walls of our gym. Everyone benefits!
Yes. Everyone benefits when grown-ups collaborate. Especially kids.