Tuesday, September 1, 2015
A proposed charter school that its organizers say could eventually serve more than 600 students in the Bay Shore, Brentwood and Central Islip districts has drawn strong opposition from some school leaders, who say it would create a "substantial financial hardship" for the local systems' budgets.
"No evidence of a need for a charter school exists in Bay Shore, as it would serve no educational purpose to the Bay Shore/Brightwaters community," the Bay Shore district said in a statement Thursday. More than 200 people packed a Bay Shore Board of Education meeting Wednesday night regarding the proposal by Long Island Children's Academy Charter School.
An application filed with the SUNY Charter Schools Institute identified the lead applicant as Malasia Thompson, a school administrator. The application noted that she is director of special education in the William Floyd school district. In response to questions sent by email to Long Island Children's Academy Charter School, a representative of the proposed school said it is being organized "by community members, parents, teachers and school administrators."
"We believe our families deserve the opportunity to have a choice as to where their children are educated," the statement said. In an application filed with the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, organizers of the academy seek approval to open in 2016 with 240 students in kindergarten through second grade. By its fifth year in operation, the document says, the school would expand to serve 624 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The application, which had an electronic signature dated July 9, also said the school's organizers are in the process of looking at facilities within a 15-mile radius of the Bay Shore, Brentwood and Central Islip districts. The school plans to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and class days would run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to the application. It intends to use a research-based curriculum that is fully aligned with the state's Common Core Curriculum Standards.
The SUNY Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the application in October. In New York State, teachers, parents, school administrators and community members can submit a proposal to establish a charter school. There are two statewide authorizers: SUNY Trustees and the state Board of Regents. The Charter Schools Act of 1998 gives those entities the authority to grant charters for the purpose of organizing and operating independent and autonomous public charter schools.
On Long Island, there are five charter schools -- two in Suffolk County and three in Nassau. Local districts pay the tuition cost of students who attend charters. Bay Shore school officials noted that if a charter is approved, the community will be required to reimburse the school for each Bay Shore student who enrolls in it.
"It stands to reason that to maintain the same number of classrooms across grade levels and school buildings, the district will be forced to make necessary financial and staffing adjustments in order to recover funds incurred by the loss of those students," the district's statement said. "We will be forced, yet again, to do more with less."
Bay Shore officials said an estimate of 70 children going to the charter school could force the district to lose about $1.3 million. Central Islip Superintendent Craig Carr said that district's school board will hold a hearing Sept. 8 on the proposed charter school. "This hearing is an opportunity for the community to offer their thoughts on the possibility of a charter school," he said. Brentwood school officials did not return requests for comment Thursday.
- This article first appeared in Newsday by Joie Tyrrell