The proposed 90,000-square-foot school, Basis Independent Brooklyn, would be located on an abandoned industrial lot at 556 Columbia St. Officials rom the Arizona-based Basis Independent Schools came before CB6 seeking support for a zoning change.
The school will charge an estimated $23,000 in annual tuition fees to roughly 1,000 students. The group currently runs 12 charter schools in Arizona, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
“This is nothing but a façade,” said board member Roger Rigolli. “They didn’t go out and meet these leaders and give Red Hook respect.”
He worries rezoning the lot could start a trend of industry leaving Red Hook, taking away potential jobs for local residents.
A petition asking CB6 to vote down the proposal garnered 100 signatures. At last week's board meeting, opponents of the plan were handing out flyers stating that Basis did not do necessary outreach.
Basis officials argued they notified the community as stipulated, but they were criticized for only notifying individuals living or working within 500 feet, excluding many residents.
Residents of nearby Red Hook Houses said they never received any notification about a private school moving into their neighborhood.
“My sense is that this is either a blatant attempt to fly under the radar or, in the best case, incredibly naïve to think that you could put a school servicing wealthier constituent group into a neighborhood like Red Hook and not have to involve the community,” said board member Elizabeth Shipley.
Mark Reford, CEO of Basis Independent Schools, said the school would be willing to share its theater and gymnasium with the community. In addition, the school has proposed establishing a scholarship program for residents of the Red Hook community.
The Board of Standards and Appeals will make a final decision on the rezoning request.
“It is unfortunate that members of the community were not persuaded of the benefits that our world-quality, STEM-focused, liberal arts programs will bring to Red Hook and Brooklyn,” Reford said. “We have always worked well with our local communities and we are committed to continue working diligently to show the community the benefits and resources we will bring as the approval process proceeds.”