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Guardian Academy Founders: 'We're not Taking Away from Peekskill Schools'

The organizers of the proposed Guardian Academy Charters School in Peekskill answered questions during a public session Tuesday. The state isn't expected to make decision on the proposal until later this summer.

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 guardianacademypeekskill@gmail.com.

Dutch March 02, 2013 at 05:53 PM
So glad to see that Silent Majority understands what a teacher does goes wel beyond the school day along with what we do for the children emotionaly and financialy. Students donate clothing, food and money to the disadvantaged students. Recently when 5 families where burn out of their homes district employees in all the buildings donated money, clothing and household goods to these families. Schools cannot meet every need that a child has but I know that PCSD does try!
Suzanne DiMicco March 05, 2013 at 02:10 AM
An excellent school is always a benefit to the community whether it's parochial, public or private. Since the money from other communities would be able to go to the school, why not just go for it and make a 100% ELL school for all sorrounding communities,too?
Dutch March 06, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Am pretty sure that Peekskill would have no problem filling this school with their own ELL students. But we already have ELL programs in our schools. So no need to replicate services that we already have. I have looked at the Charter School application and I honestly dont see anything that tells me it will be an outstanding school.
Kirsten Berger March 10, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Sayitsnotsojack, since you do not have children in the schools, how can you make that comment? Do the teachers you have spoken to live in Peekskill and opted to have their kids enrolled in private schools? Or do these teachers live in other districts and have decided to enroll their kids in their home districts? Not all districts allow faculty to send their kids to the schools they teach in for free if they are out of district. My husband teaches in another district, one that is in some ways better than Peekskill and is in a wealthy teon and it would still cost us $12K per child to send them to the district he teaches in. Our kids go to the Peekskill Schools, and while there are things I wish could be different, my kids are learning and I, as a citizen, don't just sit on my butt waiting for problems to solve themselves. We all can and should go to school board meetings if we have ideas and concerns, instead of just assuming things will never get better.
Jennifer Ciavirella January 07, 2014 at 10:56 AM
So very interesting to read everyone's comments- a lot of good questions being asked, but as someone who has been involved in charter schools most of their professional life, I can't understand a lot of the scrutiny. Charter schools could be an excellent alternative to a traditional public school specifically in a district that is low performing. It is an opportunity to be innovative and creative while adhering to extremely high expectations. Charter schools are held accountable to state and federal academic standards, solid management and operations, and fiscal responsibilities. Since public charter schools are funded with public dollars, they are required by law to be held accountable for how taxpayer dollars are spent with regular and ongoing reviews from their authorizing entities. The whole purpose to a charter school beyond providing a choice for parents is to close the achievement gap and improve student achievement. Hence, this raises the bar for public education. Charter schools are funded by local, state, and federal tax dollars based on student enrollment. They are free, do not have any special entrance requirements, and are not religious. They can not discriminate against any students on any basis. Public charter schools do not add any new costs to the state’s public education system. They simply move funding associated with a student from one public school to another based upon the decisions of families. Good practice indicates that charter schools should be designed to address the needs of the community and I firmly believe that is where The Guardian Academy Charter School of Peekskill hits a homerun! By creating an environment that children of the community needs as well as an environment where they can succeed is why charter schools are successful. The accountability is very intense….the expectations are very high. For people to undertake this kind of stress, responsibility/accountability, and start up project could only mean one thing….that they CARE!

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