The eyes of the citys educational establishment are on the Merrick Academy Queens Public Charter School in Queens Village. We expect that for some the good news at this school may well be bad news. The Merrick Academy is one of two charter schools approved for Queens, made possible by legislation passed in 1998.
The school opened its doors in the year 2000 in the annex of the United Methodist Church in Springfield Gardens. The following year it moved to its current home in Queens Village. The school has renovated the second floor of its building and it is expected to double it population to 350 students.
No one doubts that the school will be able to find parents who want to send their children to the academy. Although the teachers' union and other defenders of the educational status quo oppose the concept of charter schools, the parents of southeast Queens have already signaled their enthusiasm. Given a choice between traditional public education and the charter school, their decision is clear. Could it be that the handwriting is on the blackboard for public schools?
Merrick PTA President Deggra Stratton praised Merrick, where her daughter Chavontya has just finished the second grade. Its a public school with that private feel, she said.
Although the school appears to be an outstanding success, there is some question whether the charter schools can survive with the money they receive from public education funds. The academy has to fund-raise to make ends meet. The economics will have to be addressed before the system can expand. But for now there is no denying that parents like having the choice of sending their children to an alternative school.
©2002 Community News Group
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