Community Board 11 nixes Morris Park charter school

Community leaders who said “not in our neighborhood” to a charter school are getting their way.

The proposed Canvas Academy is shifting its target location from Morris Park/Van Nest to the Pelham Parkway area.

The move came after the school founder learned her ideal location, the Our Lady of Solace building on lower Morris Park Avenue, was no longer available.

School founder Erika Newsome, attending Community Board 11’s education committee meeting Tuesday, March 4, said she was blindsided when the board gave her letter from Our Lady of Solace stating the building was no longer available to her for lease.

It currently leases space to the Bronx Charter School of Excellence, which is moving.

Newsome said when she asked Our Lady of Solace about the space in January, she was told to create a proposal for consideration.

She also faced additional resistance from the community board members in attendence, who said the school is not a fit for their neighborhood.

Newsome said she now plans to look for space in the Pelham Parkway-Boston Road area, which still falls within Community Board 11.

The proposed charter school will be designed for high school students who are over-aged and under-credited, or dealing with foster care, teen parenting or other issues. It will also offer language support for Albanian and Spanish-speaking students and their families.

CB 11 education committee co-chair Linda White said that while the mission was admirable, the school was not a good fit for the neighborhood, where there are not a lot of foster kids, high teen pregnancy, or Albanian immigrants.

“That is not the majority of the students in this area,” said board member Al D’Angelo.

Newsome said that unlike many other charter schools that use mass solicitation to recruit students, the Canvas Academy would specifically recruit from local middle and high schools.

She said she already had names of more than 25 students in the immediate area that would be a fit for her school, which would have a cap of 100 students the first year. But the committee members were still not conviced that she would be serving their community.

“I don’t see where your school is going to profit us,” said White.

The school is not interested in co-location, Newsome said, and they are current looking for a private facility for their target student body of 200.

Newsome said that it is the norm for schools to go through the authorization process without a prospective location. If the school is authorized by the State University of New York trustees and a location is secured, the school would open in Fall 2015.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at

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