State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, Midwood) this week said he supports the Hellenic Classical Charter School (HCCS) locating a charter school on the former Angel Guardian Home on 63rd Street between 12th and 13th Avenues in Dyker Heights.
Golden’s support follows a letter from a number of elected officials, led by Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst, Sunset Park) and including Assembly members Felix Ortiz and William Colton, City Council members Carlos Menchaca, Mark Treyger and Justin Brannan, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler signing off on a latter to New York State Education Commissioner to New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia claiming the school would exacerbate the lack of seats in the area.
The group of lawmakers, who are closely aligned with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union that opposes charter schools, also tried to block the school by holding an emergency Community Education Council (CEC) meeting the same day HCCS officials were in Albany working on getting their charter approved.
But Golden said it is his understanding that many parents at the meeting welcomed the charter school.
“If the SCA (School Construction Authority) is not going to use that property then why don’t we use that property to reduce the overcrowding here and in the district by creating that charter school. I don’t oppose the charter school as long as it doesn’t interfere with our public school system and that would not interfere with our public school system because the SCA is looking down on 12th or 13th Avenue to put another public school. So we’ll wind up getting a public school. We’ll wind up getting more kids into other schools and prevent the overcrowding,” said Golden.
Golden noted the Angel Guardian site is private property and hopes the charter school will bring much needed seats to an already overcrowded educational system.
“I’m the guy that got additional funding for more schools 10 years ago. At the time we were told if we created 10,000 seats, we would reduce the overcrowding and guess what we created 12,000 seats and we’re still the most overcrowded school district in the city of New York,” added Golden.
The successful 14-year-old Park Slope charter school is hoping to replicate their educational achievements in Dyker Heights. The school has a long-standing reputation of working well with the Department of Education (DOE), having a high teacher retention rate and for having a diverse class population, according to a charter school source.
Their Park Slope location is a dual language K-8 school with a diverse class range: 23% black, 44% Hispanic and 27% white.
HCCS is actually looking to add 450 seats to one of the borough’s most crowded school districts and is expected to launch with grades K-1 in Fall 2019. After their first year (2019-2020), the school will add a grade each year until the school serves K-8 that would only help to alleviate the district’s lack of seats.
The proposed elementary and middle charter school will focus on a rigorous education that is rich in challenging content and supplementing instruction with classical study of the Greek and Latin language, history, and other cultural studies.
“I have lived in this community for decades and my children grew up here. As a former teacher, administrator and principal in District 20, our hope is for HCCS is to be part of another great district and continue to educate children. In addition, we want to expand the collaborative effort HCCS has forged with the DOE over the past 14 years,” said Christina Tettonis, Principal of HCCS.