Schenectady County

New Schenectady private school off to slow start

Enrollment at Capital Lyceum, a new private high school downtown, has been less than expected and co

Enrollment at Capital Lyceum, a new private high school downtown, has been less than expected and could delay its opening until next year, although that would be a last resort, a school spokesman said.

The school is undergoing an effort to recruit students so it can open this September as planned.

The school is located at the Schenectady Light Opera Company’s new campus at 418 Liberty St.

“Because we started the recruitment season so late, the numbers we anticipated for the first year are not where we would like,” said Alfredo Medina, a member of the Capital Lyceum board. “We don’t expect we’ll reach that original goal, which was 30 students for the first year.”

“We’ve had more than 20 parents that have expressed an interest. They’re not confirmed yet,” Medina said.

Ideally, recruitment would have started in September of last year. He attributed the late start to more than 2,000 volunteer hours spent to renovate the space, located on the top floor of the former Bethesda House building.

“It doesn’t give people enough time to visually see the space and envision what the kids would be getting on a daily basis,” he said.

School organizers had hoped to start with 30 freshmen and add a grade every year to have 150 ninth- through 12th-grade students by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

About 15 to 20 students are needed to make the project viable, according to Medina. “You want enough students in the class to be part of this experience and also to ensure that the students are getting the best education possible,” he said.

Another factor is that Marc Meyer, the founder and executive director of the school, has been having some health issues in the last few months.

School officials are setting a target of mid-July to make a determination whether to open the school this fall, Medina said. It may have to be delayed a year. “I would look at that as a last resort,” he said.

He didn’t think the economy was a factor in dissuading parents from choosing the $16,000-a-year school. He hadn’t heard from parents stating that as a reason.

The school is holding open houses on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on June 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, Capital Lyceum officials plan to be out in the community at various events. They are also creating a Facebook page and doing some direct mailing.

Medina said the school is not a traditional setup where students are sitting in a classroom. Instead, inquiry-based learning will be stressed where students have the ability to research topics and put what they learn into practice. For example, the school is trying to establish partnerships with General Electric to allow physics students to see how what they are learning is applied in the field.

Students will be visiting other community resources including Proctors, the Schenectady Light Opera Company and the Schenectady County Public Library.

Another strength of the school is there will be small classes, Medina said. Students who may not feel comfortable working in a large group will have more confidence in a smaller setting.

The name comes from the fact that the school is designed to serve the entire Capital Region and Lyceum is the name of a Greek school associated with philosopher Aristotle.

For more information, visit Capital Lyceum’s website at or call 612-8800.

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