The founding board of the proposed Guardian Academy Charter School in Peekskill wants to make one thing clear.
If their proposal gets approved by the state, the school will not be in competition with the Peekskill school district for funding.
“The dollars follow the child,” said Audrey Warn, one of the members of the school’s board members. “The district doesn’t have a monopoly of those funds. They follow the child. We’re not taking away from anything. In fact, if people avail themselves to the charter school, there is even some money that’s given back to the school district in the form of transitional aid.”
The school’s budget is determined by the amount of students who enroll, Warn said.
Warn and the other members of school’s founding board cleared up this, and other questions, during a public information session that was held on Tuesday.
About 60 people attended the session and organizers said more forums will be planned throughout the year.
The proposed charter school, which officials announced earlier this month, would be situated inside the Assumption school, which is closing at the end of this school year. The charter school, if it receives state approval, would be open during the 2014-2015 school year.
To start, the academy would open with grades K-3, with each grade containing two classes with about 25 students apiece. An additional grade level would be added each year following the school’s opening, with the eighth grade being the highest grade level.
Students would be picked using a lottery system. Local students would get chosen first, but students from surrounding school districts would receive consideration if there is still space available.
There will be ELL teachers on staff at the school.
“The school will be open to all, but we recognize that the ELL (English language learner) community is one of the larger populations we can serve,” Warn said. “After ascertaining the needs of the community, we decided that having an ELL teacher would be beneficial. But the school is open to all.”
The state will make decision on the Guardian Academy in the late summer. If the school is approved, the officials will receive a federal grant to help them get started.
Any improvements or repairs needed at the Assumption school building will be relayed to the Guardian school officials during the state’s review process.
To date, 244 charter schools have been given the go-ahead to open in this state as of January. The Amani Public Charter School in Mount Vernon and the Charter School of Educational Excellence in Yonkers are the only two charter schools in Westchester County that are currently open.
“I really hope that they can get the proposal approved,” said Ricardo Ordonez, who attended Tuesday’s forum. “My son is in pre-k now. I understand it’s limited and that’s concern. We hope everything works out OK.”
Alex Scott, a parent of a former Assumption School student, likes the idea of a charter school being formed. He believes it’s essential for parents to have a choice in where they’d like to send their children. He also believes that administrative boards for charter schools are more accountable to the wishes of the parents
“Once you have a little more power on a decision on where you can send your child, I think that’s the only thing you need,” Scott said. “I don’t care if the taxes are raised or increased, because you know it’s going to support the school.”
Marcela Bobe, who has child In the Peekskill school district, worries that the charter school will take some resources away from the Peekskill school district.
“You need principal for the charter school and you need teachers and a psychologist,” Bobe said. “It takes away money that can be used in school district…and the public isn’t going to be able to vote on the charter school’s budget.”
For further information on Guardian Academy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.