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Panel For Educational Policy Approves 19 School Co-Locations

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At yet another contentious meeting in Chelsea on Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy approved 19 proposals for schools to share space, including nine controversial proposals involving charter schools. NY1's Educational reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

When it comes to sharing school buildings, and the space squeeze that often results, it is common for parents and teachers to be angry. But Wednesday night at a meeting in Chelsea, Manhattan, some parents were so upset they began to cry.

Parents from P.S. 53 in East New York, Brooklyn begged the the Panel for Educational Policy not to vote to move their school to a new building. The school serves students with severe special needs and only eight of the 13 classes will fit in the new building. The other classes will go into other school buildings.

Although several panel members expressed concern about the plan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoints the majority of the members, and as always, it approved all 19 of the space-sharing proposals.

Department of Education officials said the students with special needs who go to the new facility will benefit.

Nine of the other proposals involved charter schools. The mayor's policy of giving charter schools space in public school buildings remains highly contentious.

The PEP will vote next month on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to close and then reopen 33 schools with new principals and only half as many teachers as before.

However, one of those 33 schools, Lehman High School in the Bronx, will now have another school move into its building, following Wednesday's meeting.

Outraged Lehman teachers, students, parents and even a person dressed as a lion, the school mascot, showed up to the meeting to protest the co-location in their building.

"If this process were to be democratic, that means you would have to hear what the public says and no planning of the new schools would happen until the public has had its voice heard. You have not done that," said a member of the Lehman High community.

There were also more than a dozen major contracts voted on by the panel. One contract approved using $6.5 million in local taxpayer funds to support struggling schools. The city lost the federal funds that were supposed to pay for that work by failing to strike a deal with the union on teacher evaluations.

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