The John P. Holland Charter School is looking to purchase the former St. Mary’s High School building on Sherman Avenue to open a new all-day pre-school program.
Christina Scano, principal of the John P. Holland Charter School, did not have a price tag for the building last week. She said the school is looking to outright buy the building. The Paterson Public School District operated a pre-school program out of the building which — despite protest from neighborhood families — closed last year.
The district was spending $500,000 per year to lease the building, according to school records.
Charter schools have had a tough time in Paterson over the past almost two decades due to lack of buildings. As the district began relinquishing lease agreements, charter schools have moved in.
The district attempted to relinquish its lease of the Boris Kroll Mill building last year. It ended up leasing the space at a deeply discounted rate to the Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson.
School board member Jonathan Hodges, a critic of charter schools, presciently warned his colleagues and the district superintendent charter schools would take up spaces the district leaves vacant.
Hodges warned against giving up old school buildings for the same reason when his colleagues suggested selling buildings.
“They would flood us with more charter schools if they had places to put them,” said Hodges. “There’s a push to cram charter schools down the city’s throat whether we need them or not. It becomes a problem for us because they destabilize our education system by siphoning off funds and creaming our population.”
Charter schools select students through lotteries to prevent “creaming.” However, parents who seek out charter school applications are likely to be active and involved in their children’s education, said Hodges.
The district this school year handed over $34 million to charter schools, according to its budget for 2016-17.
John P. Holland Charter School will enroll 90 children to its pre-school program at the building. The school collected applications from interested parents last week. It will hold a lottery on April 4th, 2017 to award seats.
John P. Holland Charter School was founded in 2011. It operates out of a building on Oliver Street.