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Shuttered Catholic school could be the site of new Success Academy middle school in Queens


The city has finally found a home for a Success Academy middle school in Queens — two years after the charter school network asked for more space, the Daily News has learned.

Up to 500 Success students will go to class in a former Catholic school on Rockaway Blvd. in South Jamaica at the start of the 2020-21 school year, city Education Department officials said Wednesday.

“We are pleased to have identified a space for Success Academy families that is built to be a school, can serve as a long-term middle school hub, and meets the immediate seat need, so that families that want to continue at Success Academy can do so,” said Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark.

Success Academy, the city’s largest charter network — with 45 schools — has been pushing the Education Department for additional middle school space in Queens since 2017.

Under state law, the city is required to either provide free space for charters in existing public schools, or chip in for rent in private buildings. That funding arrangement covers all of the charter’s rent costs in 60% of cases, according to the Education Department.

Success would need to sign a lease for the suggested new space before public subsidies could kick in.

Despite complaints of the city dragging its feet and rallies in front of city hall to put pressure on the Education Department, officials say they’ve stuck to their normal timeline for finding charter school space and have an obligation to thoroughly vet any potential space-sharing agreements in Queens, the city’s most overcrowded borough.

Success runs four Queens elementary schools but only one middle school, and has said 200 graduating elementary students would be forced to leave the network next year without a new Success middle school there.

The chosen spot is the former Our Lady’s Catholic Academy, which moved locations in 2017. It was previously the home of St. Anthony of Padua school. While the city says the building can house 500 kids, Success Academy projects it could need as many as 700 seats by 2022. Education Department officials said they’ll monitor enrollment numbers.

Success officials previously pointed to a list of Queens public schools with extra space where the city could potentially co-locate a charter middle school.

Education Department officials said on Wednesday that if the new suggested spot doesn’t work out, they would likely arrange a temporary space sharing agreement in a place with a smaller capacity.

Success Academy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.