Dear District 15 Concerned Families and Educators,
Please find below an update on Success Academy’s ask for space in our District and throughout the city. We are writing to address many of your concerns and to inform you of certain wrong doings that we have recently uncovered.
Over the last few months, Success Academy has been attempting to reconfigure 12 of their schools, with Cobble Hill being one of them. At the D15 site, they are asking for an additional 322 seats and a new 7th grade.
Three CEC15 Members spoke out in opposition of this expansion at the Public Hearing on Dec 20 and we received more than 300 statements from the public in opposition as well. All of your emails and comments were sent to SUNY and the NYS Dept of Ed. The Chancellor, Superintendent and Councilman Levin all received the comments as well, and have confirmed receipt. In addition, Assemblywoman Simon, wrote a long letter to SUNY to oppose the expansion.
We found out that SUNY has approved the request to expand Success Academy in D15.
This will allow Success Academy Cobble Hill to now admit a total of 880 students from K-7th grade. Per their Charter agreement they currently are allowed to serve 558 from K-6.
What we have uncovered in the last month:
- Per their Annual Report to the NYS Ed, Success Academy estimates enrollment at 454 and even less in this current year. DOE officials inform us their actual current enrollment is closer to 390 students. Meaning, they are only 80% enrolled.
- We were told by the DoE Office of District Planning that the percentage of D15 families in SACH’s current enrollment is only 61%.
- SACH is serving only K-4th grade in Cobble Hill. The 5th and 6th graders are being sent to other districts.
- Success Academy is playing a numbers game,re-designating students from building to building to prove there is need.
We know that in this District we have fantastic Elementary Schools and some of the best Middle School choices in the city. We do not need the growth of the Success Academy in our District, which only serves their own children and who will not admit any non-Success Academy children after the 4th grade.
What are we doing about it:
- We have been in talks with other CEC members throughout the city, especially our neighboring D13, Brooklyn’s D22 and Harlem’s D5, and Manhattan’s D3.
- We went to the District 13 Public Hearing on Jan 3 and made a public statement to support the truncation of Success Academy.
- We are working with the President of CEC5 and members of D3 and D22 to address policy changes.
- We are brainstorming with the ECC, the Citywide CEC Council, to come up with our own Accountability Reports for all Charter Schools throughout the city.
- We are reading and dissecting the Charter Act of 1998 so that we understand how and why Charter Schools continue to grow in number.
- We are learning a lot about the Charter Public Hearing process and what type of comments can change the course of events.
- The ECC currently has a Charter Committee that works on various Charter problems that this city is constantly facing. Our D15 CEC President is an active member of the ECC Charter Committee.
- We are working closely with the DoE Office of Charter Schools.
There were 4 more public hearings scheduled in this last week for Success Academy that were literally “for show,” as SUNY has already voted in favor of the Success Academy expansion.
Pretend Public Hearings are an insult to us and our Democratic System.
The Department of Education is not the problem here! There is nothing in the law that requires SUNY to wait for the DoE to have a Public Hearing. To make matters worse, SUNY is not transparent in their decision making process. Charter requests for expansion are not publicly posted, and are not even shown to the DoE.
Public Engagement with SUNY is what’s missing in this process. They don’t even send representative to these Hearings. The methods for public feedback have to be improved and the DoE is willing to talk to us about how to make that happen. But it’s up to us to learn about how and why these system are in place, and the ways to change them.
If you want to be a part of the CEC15 Charter Conversation please let us know and we will contact you directly when we have a date to meet with representatives at the DoE Office of School Charters.
Thank you for your ongoing support!
COMMUNITY EDUCATION COUNCIL DISTRICT 15