Charter School Board: 'Guardian Academy Would Help Void Left by Assumption School'

A group of organizers believe their plans for a charter school in Peekskill can be the answer to the void that is left when Assumption School closes at the end of this year.

The Guardian Academy, if it’s approved by the state Education Department, won’t be another Assumption School, according to organizers.

But officials are hopeful the charter school can help fill the hole that is created when the Assumption School closes at the end of this school year. A group of Peekskill community members are applying to the state for the creation of  a charter school at the Assumption School building, with the goal of opening in 2014.

Charter schools are public institutions that are run independently by a board of parents and other community members. They receive their funding through a per pupil formula that is determined by the state and paid by the school district the institution is located in. 

“We realize that there’s such a void and we feel think that this could provide parents in the community with another option,” said Audrey Warn, a member of the founding board responsible for the charter’s school application to the state. “All kids learn differently and this is one way we can reach more kids and give them all they need to be successful.”

Warn said the charter school’s founding board is made up of six members. Warn is the only board members who is also an Assumption School parent.

“The ultimate goal was trying to find a way to keep the Assumption School open,” Warn said. “We just found out about the Assumption School, so all of this came about quickly.”

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.

Warn said an application was submitted to the state earlier this month and decision is expected during the summer.

Even if the school is approved, Assumption parents should not count on being able to just enroll their kids at the Guardian Academy.

“The Assumption School building will be closed next year, even if we’re lucky enough to get approval,” Warn said.

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.

By law, religion classes can’t be taught at the school. But there will be character education component to the curriculum, Warn said.

“Ultimately, it’s not just about academic success,” Warn said. “It’s also about being a good citizen.”

Warn said it is still unclear if any modifications would need to be made to the Assumption School building in order for it to operate as a charter school.

“We’ll find that out after our application is reviewed,” Warn said.

In the meantime, Warn said public meetings will be scheduled throughout the community in order to gain public feedback. People can also email guardianacademypeekskill@gmail.com if they have additional questions.

Dutch February 19, 2013 at 02:19 PM
"They receive their funding through a per pupil formula that is determined by the state and paid by the school district the institution is located in. " Peekskill cannot afford another school on it's tax roles. With the closing of Assumption the district now has to re open Uriah Hill and now people are asking for the taxpayers to take on a charter school. Money is tight and like me I think most taxpayers cannot afford additonal taxes to be paid to fund a charter school. If parents are unhappy with the PCSD then get involved and help change it for the better. Support the district you ae paying taxes to run. And if parents are so unhappy with the distict that serves you and you make no attempt to support and improve it then get the heck out of dodge!!!
Joe Citizen February 19, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Very well said. Enough with the smoke and mirrors. Assumption School, over 100 years of tradition uneffected by progress.
Joe Citizen February 19, 2013 at 04:22 PM
By the way why doesn't Assumption rent their building to the PCSD so they don't have to open Uriah Hill, oh wait they can't because it is not up to codetto be a school under NYS Education Law. Next they'll want the district to foot the bill to bring it up to code if they get approved.
Branwen MacDonald February 19, 2013 at 05:26 PM
I think this would spread our school district too thin. I sat for 2 years on the Peekskill Schools citizen's budget committee, and I got to see firsthand the stretches and tradeoffs the system has to make to keep things running and keep standards high while keeping the tax increase as low as possible. If a portion of the school taxes went to the Charter budget, the public schools would definitely suffer. And I'd like to know if the Charter school would be subject to the same mandates and accountability as the public schools. I'd also like to know what the process is, and whether we would have a vote in deciding whether to accept and pay for this new school in our district. It would be much more cost effective for any of the Assumption students who want to stay in Peekskill to attend our public schools.
Howard February 19, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Parents and more importantly children in this district deserve a choice. The recent scandals at the high school are indicative of a failed school district. The high school guidance counselors and teacher were the ones that got caught but it should make you suspicious of what may be occurring at all of the Peekskill schools. Let the Peekskill schools compete with the charter school for students and dollars—competition is a good thing. The winner will be the students.
Joe Citizen February 19, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Let's not be to quick to put Assumption on a pedestal. They were millions in the red. Fiscal mismanagement already seen here should not be allowed to drain the district. Yes some issues existed in the PCSD but that does not mean you condemn an entire district and discount it's students as getting substandard education. Drain off funds for the elitist few that don't want their children educated with the common folk then you will create a failed district.
Dutch February 19, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Joe I agree with you 100%. One of the biggest battles this district faces is the lack of parental involvement and accountability. Schools are for educating and not for raising your child for you. Students with poor attendance, no support with doing homework, and parents who do not speak or write in English are some of the daily issues that a school in Peekskill encounters. The district has tons of educated and dedicated teachers who run awesome classrooms. But when parents dont do their part many children do and will suffer. I truly believe that the people who came up with the charter school idea for Assumption do so so they can create a school that will be upper middle class and not reflect the true diversity of our city.
Kirsten Berger February 20, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Well said, Dutch! We can't afford a charter school. My kids are in the elementary schools and I'm seeing more and more parents involved each year, so there is hope for the district and having a charter school for those families who don't want to mingle with the rest of the populace isn't going to improve things.
Kirsten Berger February 20, 2013 at 04:13 AM
It seems the Guardian Charter School wants to focus on English language learners. Not so elitist after all but it's nothing that the PCSD isn't already doing as part of its curriculum. Here's the charter application (it's public record) http://www.p12.nysed.gov/psc/documents/guardian-academy-charter-school-of-peekskill-redacted.pdf
Ian February 20, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Tearing down the Peekskill schools accomplishes nothing. They're good schools. Yes, there are issues, but they're not as serious as people make them out to be, not nearly. Every school has issues. I student taught in Peekskill, and now I teach in a wealthy district in Putnam county. I'm proud that my kids go to the Peekskill schools. If you want better schools in Peekskill, help make that happen. Be a part of the school community.
Dutch February 22, 2013 at 12:58 AM
PSCD already has a ELL program in place along with a fantastic DL program. I truly believe that this is an attempt to keep the Assumption parish alive.


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