Schenectady County

Former DSS site may be home of Schenectady charter school

A group seeking to start up a Schenectady charter school has identified the former Department of Soc

A group seeking to start up a Schenectady charter school has identified the former Department of Social Services building as a possible location.

Eximius Academy Charter School officials say in their application they are working with an architect on possibly using the 487 Nott St. building, which has been vacant since DSS moved to Broadway in 2009. The Galesi Group owns the building. David Buicko, chief operating officer for the company, was unavailable for comment Friday.

The structure needs renovations, including being made handicapped accessible and other maintenance issues.

A public hearing on the charter school proposal will be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Mont Pleasant Middle School immediately before the Schenectady Board of Education meeting. People are invited to comment on the proposal but must register, and written comments can be submitted via email to Schenectady Board of Education Clerk David Weiser at [email protected]

Board of Education President Cathy Lewis said the district received a letter from the New York State Education Department in late August that the charter school application had been submitted and it was required to hold a hearing.

Advocates have been trying to establish a new charter school for the past two years. In April 2011, Eximius formally submitted its application to the state for approval. At the time, the intended site was the former Draper School in Rotterdam, which was also home to the International Charter School of Schenectady from 2005 to 2008. It closed in June 2008 when the school’s charter wasn’t renewed.

However, the Disabled American Veterans plan to convert the building into apartments. Eximius studied other potential sites, including the 10,000-square-foot vacant Capital Region Maritime Center, but it wasn’t big enough for their needs. In May, it formally withdrew its application and said it would resubmit at a later time.

Eximius was not listed on the New York State Education Department website as a charter school seeking approvals. However, a copy of the application is on Schenectady school district’s website.

The school would start its first year with 156 kindergarten and first-grade students and add 78 kindergarten students every year until it is a K-5 school, according to the application. Eximius would stress a science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) because of the high-tech jobs in the area with a hands-on curriculum and “capstone” projects at the end of each unit to allow students to use what they’ve learned on real world problems.

It would have extended days of 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. There would be a 190-day school year and a four-week summer program for struggling students.

Eximius is targeting low-income and disadvantaged students. If necessary, a lottery will be held for spots in the school with first preference given to students from the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods.

Eximius spokeswoman Pamela Swanigan did not return a message left for comment on Friday.

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