Schenectady

Assemblymen denounce proposed charter school in Schenectady

Assemblyman Phil Steck speaks at a press conference in Albany on May 18. He and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara  put out a statement in opposition to the proposed kindergarten through Grade 5 Destine Preparatory Charter School.
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Assemblyman Phil Steck speaks at a press conference in Albany on May 18. He and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara  put out a statement in opposition to the proposed kindergarten through Grade 5 Destine Preparatory Charter School.

Two state assemblymen put out a statement in opposition to the proposed kindergarten through Grade 5 Destine Preparatory Charter School.

An application was resubmitted to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which bills itself as the fifth largest authorizer of charter schools in the U.S., and the charter school’s would-be founder, Re’Shawn Rogers, said on Sept. 5 that the school is likely to open August 2022, with a first-year enrollment of 116 students.

In a joint statement, Assemblymen Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Phil Steck, D-Schenectady said: “We strongly oppose putting state funding toward a charter school in the City of Schenectady.  Schenectady has the most diverse School Board in the history of the City. We have confidence that the School Board will ensure a fair and equitable education for all students so that Schenectady will once again be a leader among all public schools in the nation, as it was years ago.”

The statement went on to question whether charter schools improve educational outcomes while diverting resources from “tried-and-true public schools, which Schenectady can ill afford, and distract attention from the mission of a fair and equitable public education.

“Our focus should be on improving our existing school district and ensuring it has the resources necessary to provide a safe learning environment where every student has the opportunity to succeed,” Santabarbara and Steck said.

A school district spokeswoman said nine people spoke during Wednesday’s public hearing, excluding Re’Shawn Rogers, the charter school’s would-be founder who provided a statement at the beginning of the hearing.

Three district teachers, a teacher/resident, and a school board member and parent made statements in opposition to the charter school.
 
One resident said there was too much information redacted or not provided on the proposal, and asked to be able to review the complete proposal.
 
One person, the proposed chairwoman of the charter schools board, spoke in favor of the charter school. 
 
Another person was undecided, adding parents should have choices including the charter option.
 
A student was present and asked what a charter school is.
 
Rogers didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment after the hearing, including on Sunday.

The assemblymen called it “unfair to our School Board and the students striving for success in public school to place the additional burden of a charter school upon them.  Charter schools are an idea that did not pan out. As legislators, we will continue to focus on delivering for our public schools, not on unnecessary diversions.”

Categories: Schenectady County

One Comment

At one time education quality was judged by student achievement. To make their case the assemblymen needed only to have documented the current Schenectady students achievements. Perhaps these would not support their view

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