District plans on new facility for charter students

The city school district plans to use the new William C. Keane Elementary School and leased building

The city school district plans to use the new William C. Keane Elementary School and leased buildings to house returning students from the International Charter School of Schenectady.

The Rotterdam-based school is closing down at the end of June after the State University of New York Board of Trustees voted last month not to renew its charter because of poor academic performance.

City Superintendent of Schools Eric Ely told the Board of Education on Wednesday that this plan assumes a scenario of all the ICSS students returning to the district.

Ely said his goals are to make sure class sizes did not increase substantially. The district has been trying to reduce class sizes — now 28 to 30 — to 18 to 28. He also wanted to keep the charter school students near their neighborhoods.

“We don’t really want to be busing students across town every day,” he said.

Ely said the roughly 80 charter school students in the Van Corlaer and the roughly 61 students in the Hamilton attendance zones will be assigned to a “newly acquired facility.” Those in the Pleasant Valley zone will be assigned either to this facility or the new William C. Keane Elementary School, at the former St. Luke’s School.

The district hopes to lease two facilities. However, he said could not name them because it could affect negotiations.

A total of 194 charter school students in the Keane, Woodlawn and Yates zones would also all be assigned to Keane. Nine students from the Paige Elementary School zone would go to Paige.

The closing of the charter school would send roughly 82 students to Mont Pleasant Middle School, 23 to Central Park Middle School and 13 to Oneida Middle School, he said.

Ely said any charter school family with incoming kindergarten children would have the option of sending them to the Fulton Early Childhood Learning Center or their neighborhood elementary. Additional prekindergarten classes and special education classes may be made with newly acquired space. Also, the district will not split up families and force children to go to different schools.

The board seemed to like the plan.

“I’m happy to see we’re trying to keep class size down and keep kids close to home,” said board member Maxine Brisport.

However, Board President Jeff Janiszewski said he would like to see more of an effort to use Yates School, which he believes is underutilized.

Ely said he is going to continue to refine the plan.

Board member Linda Bellick said she wanted to make sure whatever facilities the district leases would be made to feel like a school.

“I don’t want them to be stepchildren,” she said.

Ely said if the district acquires both facilities, the tentative plan is to have them under their own principal with two deans in each building and appropriate support staff.

The board did not continue its budget discussion because Ely said he is waiting for the state budget to be completed to get a better idea of the revenues the district will receive.

Categories: Schenectady County

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