Success Charter Schools Secure More City Space

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The Department of Education agreed on Thursday to give more space to the city's largest charter school network, Success Academy. The backroom deal came a day after Success founder Eva Moskowitz released a letter from anxious parents and just hours before she was scheduled to stage a press conference outside City Hall.

Charters that apply for space are supposed to hear back within five months. The deadline for Moskowitz's application was next week, the day before Christmas.

"I was concerned that we were getting very, very close and yet had utterly no movement," she said, calling the city's offer an "important and positive step forward."

Moskowitz was seeking space to house a total of 14 new schools approved in October.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said she anticipates accommodating requests for up to eight of them, though the locations were not announced. Any that can't be co-located with existing public schools could seek city funding for private space.

"As we have with all charter operators seeking space, we've been engaged in good faith discussions to reach outcomes that are fair and work for all our kids," Fariña said in a statement. "The state has clearly outlined a process through which any school that cannot be accommodated in D.O.E.-owned buildings may seek funding that will allow them to thrive in private space. "

The chancellor was referring to a recent state law that requires the city to provide space in its public schools for charters, or pay their rent to go elsewhere. 

The city will also find space in its public schools for two Success charters in Brooklyn that are adding middle grades. Moskowitz clashed with Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year when he blocked three of her schools from opening, but then found them space in former Catholic school buildings.

Many charter school critics oppose giving public school space to the privately managed charters. Some of Moskowitz's charters have drawn particularly loud complaints from parents who claim they aren't good neighbors, or that they siphon resources and children from the regular school system.

Moskowitz said four of the new schools will be delayed by a year, opening in 2016. They include Success schools planned for School Districts 1 and 3 in Manhattan, District 27 in Queens and District 9 in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Fariña reiterated her criteria for charters seeking co-located space in city school buildings: no new elementary schools in buildings with high schools, small schools must have resources to serve a full range of students, and no co-locations that negatively affect space for District 75 students with the most serious needs.