Bedford Stuyvesant – When the Hon. Judge Levine issued a stay on May 24th to keep P.S. 25 Eubie Blake open while the lawsuit parents have brought to keep it open gets resolved, what was not discussed was the impact this decision would have on the Success Academy’s (SA) plans to open a middle school at this location.
It seems everyone had been operating on the assumption that P.S. 25 would close at the end of this school year.
The plan had been for SA to swap the space used at this building by its elementary school, Success Academy Bed-Stuy 3, which is approved for K-4 and 305 seats, for use as a middle school, with the elementary grade students reallocated among SA elementary schools starting next year.
Had P.S.25 closed, no Educational Impact Statement (EIS) of this proposal would be required as Success Academy would be the only school at the building. And so it seems no Educational Impact Statement was filed.
However, P.S. 25 will be staying open for another year at least, and now the DOE insists that they cannot proceed with the plan as before, because EIS is required when a new school co-locates (shares the building and its facilities) with a local public school, and has to be filed 6 months before the start of the school year, which is now in just 10 weeks.
The popular charter school network desperately needs more middle school space, something within reasonable travel distance for families in Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg and Cobble Hill.
Earlier this year, Success Academy was approved for two new middle schools – SA East Flatbush, and SA Lafayette. SA Lafayette would be the one SA is proposing to locate at the space approved for SA Bed-Stuy 3 at PS25 Eubie Blake building at 787 Lafayette Avenue. According to the website, the school would be offering instruction for students in grades 5 through 8, which typically at SA means about 425 students at full capacity, assuming the city agrees to the opening.
Technically, the Schools Chancellor does have the power to deal with emergency situations – which this could be classified as – where all parties assumed no EIS would be necessary and then realized there was not enough time:
In the event that the chancellor determines that …. significant change in school utilization is immediately necessary for the preservation of student health, safety or general welfare, the chancellor may temporarily…. adopt a significant change in the school’s utilization on an emergency basis. —Education Law §2590-h(2-a)(f).
To advocate for this, and to ask the city to keep its promises and let SA Lafayette middle school open at this location, Success Academy’s founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz will join Success Academy families at a rally tomorrow morning at 9:30 am on the steps of the City Hall.
The P.S. 25 Eubie Blake school building has a capacity of about 1,000 students.