BY DANIEL OFFNER
Charter schools are often considered among the highest quality public school options for New York City schoolchildren; however some Community Education Council members say the City is at its limit, with 197 charter schools currently in existence across the five boroughs.
“The Council feels that there is such a thing as being ‘over-chartered,’” Jeff Guyton, co-president of CEC 30, said. “We are resistant to the ideas of new Charters coming to the district.”
According to Guyton – whose CEC district currently houses five charter schools in the Astoria, Ditmars, East Elmhurst, Hunters Point, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside communities – one of the local public schools recently lost 24 of its highest-performing students to a nearby charter school.
“I think there is such a thing as having too many charter schools that it starts creating a problem for nearby public schools,” Guyton adds.
Guyton said that while he is not opposed to providing charter school education for students in the district, he thinks that the State should focus more on supporting the Charters they already have instead of looking for ways to add more.
Nick Comaianni, president of CEC 24 – which covers the Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village communities – said that while he doesn’t feel charter schools are bad, they tend to throw a proverbial “wrench” at everything public schools are trying to accomplish.
“I just think it’s the way they have the system set up,” Comaianni said.
Unlike public schools, which fall under Dept. of Education regulations, charter schools are held to a different set of restrictions. Comaianni said that since charters do not follow DOE regulations, they can appoint their own administration and limit class sizes, so they do not have to worry about overcrowding, like some of the nearby public schools, which push to include the maximum number of students.
“There is no oversight,” Comaianni said. “They can keep their classes at 24 kids and nobody could say anything.”
According to Comaianni, there are only two charter schools in his district – the Middle Village Preparatory Charter School and Central Queens Academy Charter School – while districts in Northeast Queens have none.
“It’s not as overcrowded as my district,” he said. “In District 24, we don’t have the room to take any new charter schools.”
In Queens, there are total of 14 charter schools spread out around the Borough. Other Community Education Council Districts with charter schools include: District 27 – covering the the Far Rockaway, Howard Beach and Woodhaven communities, District 28 – which includes the Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and South Jamaica communities and District 29 – in the Bellerose, Briarwood, Brookville, Cambria Heights, Holliswood, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans communities. (Editor’s Note: see the list of charter schools in Queens on page 18.)
In addition, there are no charter schools located in District 25 or 26, which cover areas such as Flushing, Whitestone, College Point, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Hillcrest and parts of Hollis Hills and Holliswood.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D–Flushing) told the Queens Tribune in a recent interview, that pushing for charter schools takes resources away from public schools.
“Instead of going back and trying to put resources [into public schools], we’re trying to find ways to benefit only a small portion,” Kim said.
Kim – whose Assembly district includes parts of Flushing, Whitestone and Murray Hill – said that he has not seen any proposals for new charter schools within his district.
According to the New York City Charter School Center, a City-wide charter school support network, charter school growth is predominantly concentrated in three areas of New York City – Harlem, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx – which include six of the eight lowest-income school districts in the city.
Reach Daniel Offner at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @DanielOffner.