Who Is In Charge

Principals, charter leaders, real estate experts, and others to tackle school-space issues

Principals, charter school leaders, real estate experts, special education advocates, and others will join together to try to untangle knotty matters involving school space, city officials announced Friday.

The joint City Hall-Department of Education working group, which the city first revealed last week, will tackle school co-locations, overcrowding, and classroom trailers, which lawmakers have urged the city to promptly remove. The 24-member group will recommend long-term solutions to reduce overcrowding, practical strategies for schools that must share space, and ways to ensure that schools have room for the arts and physical education, the City Hall press release said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to block a few charter schools from moving into public buildings, while still allowing several others to do so, prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to enact a series of sweeping protections for charter schools. Hoping to stem any further fallout from his co-location decision, de Blasio has tried to make amends with charter-school supporters and formed the space-sharing group.

Led by schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, the City Hall-formed group follows several earlier education department initiatives to address space-sharing.

Here are the members of the working group:

Sandra D’Avilar, Principal, P.S. 9
Joanne Mejias, Principal, Manhattan Charter School II
Roshone Ault, Principal, South Bronx Academy for Applied Media
Joseph Canale, Principal, CSI High School for International Studies
RoseAnn Darche, former Special Assistant for Education, Office of the Queens Borough President
Bob Hughes, President, New Visions for Public Schools
Richard Kahan, Founder & CEO, Urban Assembly
David Levin, Co-Founder, KIPP
Emary Aronson, Managing Director, Robin Hood Foundation
Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Programs, Carnegie Corporation of New York
Maggie Moroff, Special Education Policy Coordinator, Advocates for Children and Coordinator, ARISE Coalition
Gloria Corsino, President, District 75 Community Education Council
Miriam Aristy-Farer, President, District 6 Community Education Council
Alim Gafar, Co-Chair, Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Committee
Isaac Carmignani, Co-President and Zoning Chair, District 30 Community Education Council
Eric Greenleaf, member of Speaker Silver’s Overcrowding Taskforce and Professor of Marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business
David Umansky, CEO, Civic Builders
Adam Flatto, President, The Georgetown Company
Jonathan Gyurko, President, Leeds Global Partners and former official, NYC Department of Education and United Federation of Teachers
Ellie Engler, Director of Staff, United Federation of Teachers
Burt Sacks, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, City University of New York
Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education
Maria Fernandez, Coordinator, Urban Youth Collaborative
Luis Garden Acosta, President, El Puente


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”