From Co-Location to Collaboration: Teamwork for the Benefit of Newark Students
Charter schools are public schools, however they do not receive public funding for facilities like district schools. And they do not receive public funding to buy, renovate, or lease school buildings. One way that some charter schools have met the challenge of finding facilities is by co-location, essentially moving into district school buildings and using a surplus of space in a public school building. This is the case with Seek Academy, a KIPP New Jersey elementary school that shares space with George Washington Carver Elementary and Bruce Street School.
One of the benefits of co-location is that the schools have the opportunity to learn best practices from one another and this has been the case with Seek Academy and the schools it shares space with. We have partnered with Carver on campus-wide events including Carver Day and Gender Empowerment Day where we had guest speakers and joint learning activities. Representatives from our staff just returned from a personal development workshop in upstate New York together so they could turn-key best practices to the rest of the staff. We also took Carver students with us on field trips to Monmouth University, Long Branch Beach, Rutgers Camden and the Camden Aquarium.
Seek Academy is currently in a short term lease which has us at the mercy of shifting district policies and political winds. It also leaves us with the uncertainty of if the place we're currently occupying is in fact our final home. We are hoping to secure a long term lease in this space so that we can make it our long-term home and continue to share our resources with the George Washington Carver Elementary and Bruce Street School to benefit all children in the building.
Our scholars are not objects that can just be moved from location to location. For many students school serves as a second home and without a long-term solution they feel the effects of potentially being displaced. Additionally, it is hard to invest and make facilities improvements that would benefit all of the schools sharing the building when you're not certain if you'll be there year to year.
Collectively we want the best for all of the schools we share space with. Newark children deserve a great public school system that is fair to the children, parents and community and right now the students of Seek Academy are left in limbo.
- Antonia O'Sullivan
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