A charter school network’s plan to double in size over the next few years could reignite a war over classroom space in New York City, only this time with the ground rules already tilted against the mayor.
A new state law passed in April gives the city just two options to meet the demands of the Success Academy network: It can hand over free space in public or private buildings, or give the schools money to find their own space.
The first option has frequently led to angry protests from the parents and teachers in schools that have to share space. The latter route would come with spiraling financial costs, as well as potential political ones, underscoring the new law’s unspoken aim: to get the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to be more collegial to the charter school sector.
“There are all sorts of hidden ways that this work can be made much harder than it has to be,” said Eva S. Moskowitz, the Success Academy founder. Ms. Moskowitz is adroit at mobilizing support from parents and public officials. Her march on Albany last winter, after the mayor briefly blocked three of her schools from city space, helped set the new law into motion, and she vowed last week to ensure that “the law is followed.”
With 22 schools serving 6,700 students, her network is already larger than many New York State school districts. She already has approval to open 10 more schools in the city, and said last week that she intends to apply to the state for permission to open 14 more, which would give her 46 schools, in every borough but Staten Island, by 2016.