You are reading

700-Seat Charter School Planned for Long Island City

Rendering of the proposed six-story school, as part of a planned three-story commercial and warehouse building. (OWNCS)

Oct. 19, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A charter school plans on expanding into Long Island City, and is seeking to operate within a commercial and warehouse building currently under construction.

Our World Neighborhood Charter Schools, with existing locations in Astoria and Howard Beach, wants to open its third location as part of an upcoming building at 9-03 44th Rd., where developers have so far been working on a three-story office and warehouse building.

The elementary and middle school would form part of the building, which broke ground earlier this year, through a six-story enlargement set to rise up from the middle of the development.

The charter school plans on eventually serving about 700 students in grades K to 8 at the location, and would only occupy a small fraction of the building’s base while virtually operating solely out of the slimmer addition up top.

Representatives for the charter school, along with Barone Management, which is developing the building, explained their project at an Oct. 17 Community Board 2 Land Use meeting. They noted that they are applying for a permit with the Board of Standards and Appeals to open the school since it will be located within a manufacturing district. Schools are only allowed in such districts by special permit.

If all goes smoothly, the new charter school location could open in September 2020.

View of the proposed building with the BSA special permit. (OWNCS)

The building will not only add a new elementary school into OWNCS’ roster, but would also be where its existing middle school in Astoria will be relocated to, according to Mark Crusante, director of external relations for OWNCS.

Kindergarten and first grade students would be first to move in during year one of the new school’s operations before scaling to grade five after five years time.

The OWNCS middle school in Astoria, meanwhile, will also gradually transfer its students and operations into the Long Island City location after the five year phase-out, he said.

About 450 students will make up the elementary component of the school, with about 250 students comprising the middle school section.

It is unclear what will happen to the cleared-out Astoria building, however.

The charter school indicated that Long Island City is its preferred location, as it senses a need for additional school seats in the area.

“We’ve all become familiar with the need for school seats in this school district, which is district 30, and we’d like to help that need,” said Howard Goldman, land use attorney for the school.

The six-floors in the school portion include 32 classrooms, and facilities like a cafeteria, library, and a gym on the top floor. About 120 staff members are also expected at the school.

The building’s commercial and industrial base, meanwhile, features a ground floor to be made up of partitioned warehouse space. The upper two floors will be for office spaces, while roof terraces will be equipped with lounge style seating areas and even a bocce ball court.

The charter school’s entrance will be within the building’s base along 44th Avenue, with its lobby carved out and away from the commercial and industrial portion of the development.

The charter school’s proposed entrance at 44th Avenue. (OWNCS)

The project team believes the school within the building, zoned for manufacturing, would not pose a problem.

“Although it is in a manufacturing district, it’s not a heavy manufacturing area in terms of surrounding uses,” said Ariel Holzer, a zoning and land use attorney. Offices and parking lots make up the bulk of the area, and the site itself is directly across from a hotel.

The school has also set up a pickup and drop off plan to help move traffic efficiently outside the entrance. It plans on using a mix of a no standing and private drop off zone, along with school staff, to guide students in and out of the building at the start and end of the day.

Some board members, however, expressed concerns about 44th Avenue, which they say is already a problem area because of its narrow roadway and trucks blocking stop signs.

The development site today (Google Maps)

As part of the BSA application, however, a private traffic analysis team will come up with a report recommending potential safety changes to surrounding roadways and intersections, including crosswalks, traffic signals, signs, and more.

The analysis will then be sent to the DOT, which will issue its own safety plan with findings and recommendations as part of the application.

The project team ultimately does not anticipate a significant increase in traffic, given that buses and cars will come in staggered, and mainly at the start and end of the day.

Most of its staff is projected to come using public transportation, additionally. The school, however, will look into setting up reserved parking spaces within a nearby garage.

The BSA application process for the school will kick off soon, with the school team expected to return to Community Board 2 for a public hearing on the item some time in December.

Our World Neighborhood Charter Schools, started in 2001, says its mission is to turn students into independent thinkers and lifelong learners through a liberal arts intensive program.

The charter first began publicly floating the idea for a third location within District 30 over the summer, where it held information sessions and opened an online survey to gauge interest in the school.

Update 2:40 p.m. – The school could open in September 2020 if all goes smoothly, not in 2019 as previously written.

email the author: [email protected]

20 Comments

MRLIC

The FAKE MRLIC wrote the October 19, 2018 comment on the school options being exceedingly tedious.




1



24
Reply
young man!

Why not a regular public school?
The parents can help shape the school to be the best it can possibly be rather than have some corporate run school.




20



14
Reply
John

too far from actual Ct Sq where many folks live and too near industrial / manufacturing, heavy trucking….




8



16
Reply
CalltheWAHHHmbulance!

Too far? A few blocks walk is honestly super convenient. Sorry it’s not in your lobby. Sheesh




16



3
Reply
Anonymous

Will the original elementary school still remain where it is? It has served many kids in the immediate area& the summer camp there has been a blessing for many. It is free,& people line up from 5a.m. every year to apply for a coveted slot. Dont go all glass tower, luxury highrise on us, lol.




7



1
Reply
MrLIC

Thank goodness; the current school options are exceedingly tedious, and my darling Tristan deserves the best start in life. Plus, he has blonde hair.




34



19
Reply
Deborah Alexander

Charter schools serve entire districts, not neighborhoods, which means that LIC–which is in desperate need of seats–would be giving up space to a school that only some LIC lottery winners could attend, rather than opening a new school for the local community.




22



10
Reply
Court Square parent

If there was a new zoned school for Court Square that would be even better. Since there isn’t, this is still better than nothing.




16



2
Reply
Deborah Alexander

Not really. Kids will come from all over D30, which means those schools lose money, and LIC still remains in desperate need of seats.




13



3
Reply
Truncate 78

But there is no school for the local kids. Only an already overcrowded PS78 and an “incubator school”, with plans for another elementary school sometime in the next several years. A school that will be overcrowded by the time it opens. Hunters Point needs options and everyone in Court Square needs an option. Saying that a charter school shouldn’t be allowed to open because it doesn’t serve everyone in LIC is absurd because there isn’t a school that serves all of LIC anyway. At least this gives parents some options.




2



6
Reply
Concerned LIC parent

The lack of available public school seats in LIC is a real problem. Maybe instead of wasting time fighting a charter school (particularly where it provides options to families in LIC), maybe we should be pressuring the DOE to stop being so reactionary and to build MORE schools, particularly in the court square area, to address future population growth. Just take the seven train. All I see when I ride it are glass behemoths with hundreds of new apartments. And guess what. It won’t be just single people who live in those apartments.




5



2
Skip Seglipse

OWNCS is a quality institution. Obviously it’s not a DOE priority to open a school in LIC or they would have done so. The DOE has been unable to keep up with the need for classroom seats. With the hemorrhaging of seats in the area due to private (catholic) school closures over the last 10-15 years, the district would be in deep doo-doo without charter schools. You do have a bias against charter schools, but they are necessary.




5



2
Reply
LIC RESIDENT CONCERNED

Hooray!!! My daughter went to OWNS – a school where parents are involved in their children’s education in a multicultural environment, much, much better than the local public schools, children are challenged academically as their expectations set much higher. Many of the kids that have graduated from OWNS have been successful academically at the top Specialized High Schools in NYC and at the top independent schools as well. I tip my cap to Mr. Ferguson and the Trustees at OWNS. We need to support our Charter Schools as the NYC Board of Education and public school system has failed us and our children.




15



20
Reply
Anonymous

Funny to reads this.
In actuality, several years ago, some of the various local Charter schools’ teachers were recommended by Teachers College at Columbia to visit District 30 classrooms to observe rigorous instruction.




6



7
Reply
Matt

Hooray! My son goes to a NYC public school where parents are deeply involved in their child’s education, he is challenged academically, and the school community is multicultural! If we stop segregating public schools we can all say the same! I tip my hat to tax payers who support public education and acknowledge it’s the cornerstone of a thriving NYC.




5



1
Reply
LIC Neighbor

Hooray!!! My daughter went to OWNS – a school where parents are involved in their children’s education in a multicultural environment, much, much better than the local public schools, children are challenged academically as their expectations set much higher. Many of the kids that have graduated from OWNS have been successful academically at the top Specialized High Schools in NYC and at the top independent schools as well. I tip my cap to Mr. Ferguson and the Trustees at OWNS. We need to support our Charter Schools as the NYC Board of Education and public school system has failed us and our children.




7



16
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

Recent News