Co-location Collaboration Yields Playground

Mary Ann Giordano from the Times put it best.

And who says co-located schools can’t get along?”

Ms. Giordano is referring to a district-charter co-location collaboration that took place on Saturday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Three co-located schools, Beford-Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School, La Cima Elementary Charter School and Middle School 267, joined together with KaBOOM! and CAA Foundation to turn a desolate blacktop behind the school building into a bright, new playground for all three schools to share. Over 200 students, teachers, administrators, families, friends and volunteers from the community gathered at the 800 Gates Avenue Campus early Saturday morning to mix and pour concrete, build planters and benches, erect playground structures and paint murals.

I am accustomed to reading negative press on co-locations. Even after meeting multiple school leaders on campuses across the city with positive co-location stories, it is still easy to have those experiences clouded by a barrage of news articles that claim otherwise. Saturday’s events, however, provide a concrete example of what can be when schools work together.

Last year, leaders at La Cima Elementary Charter School saw an opportunity to work with KaBOOM!, a non-profit that builds playgrounds in communities around the nation. Like a good neighbor, La Cima then shared the opportunity with the two other schools in their building. Naturally, those schools saw the benefit of joining forces and now over 900 students in Bedford-Stuyvesant have a safe, fun place to play. Add to this the fact that the community had a hand in building the playground, and you have collaboration at its best.

The number of people who said, “I’m so happy our kids have a place like this to play,” was rivaled only by the number of passers-by who stopped to smile and admire the work. It was a very rewarding day for all involved and it should serve as a reminder to everyone that co-locations do work and collaborations can yield great things.

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