Proposed Schenectady charter school on verge of approval

Re’Shawn Rogers stands on North Pearl Street in Albany on Feb. 4. Rogers is behind the effort to create Destine Preparatory Charter School in Schenectady for K-5.

Re’Shawn Rogers stands on North Pearl Street in Albany on Feb. 4. Rogers is behind the effort to create Destine Preparatory Charter School in Schenectady for K-5.

SCHENECTADY – An entity that designates charter schools appears poised to approve the proposed Destine Preparatory Charter School here.

The SUNY Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee meeting planned for Thursday morning includes an agenda item to consider the proposed kindergarten through Grade 5 charter school, with committee chairman Joseph W. Belluck recommending its approval, according to a memorandum from Belluck to the board.

The SUNY Charter Schools Institute reviewed, scored, ranked, and recommended for approval Destine Preparatory, which would be lead by Brooklyn educator Re’Shawn Rogers, who briefly withdrew its initial bid and resubmitted the proposal.

Destine Preparatory Charter School “rigorously demonstrated” it met various criteria, including meeting or exceeding: enrollment and retention targets, and serving students with disabilities, English language learners, and those who are eligible applicants for the federal free and reduced price lunch program.

It also performed the necessary public outreach in conformity with a thorough and meaningful public review process, the memo read.

The SUNY Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee hadn’t received comments on behalf of the Schenectady City School District as of Sept. 29, the memo stated.

However, during a March 24 public hearing on the charter school’s original application, community members including Schenectady teachers said the focus should be on improving the city’s existing district schools.

During a public hearing last month, three district teachers, a teacher/resident, and a school board member and parent made statements in opposition to the charter school.

Two local lawmakers, state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Phil Steck, D-Schenectady, put out a joint statement last month opposing the proposed charter school, questioning whether diverting resources from the Schenectady school district would foster fairness and equity in public education.

Rogers, the school’s proposed founder and head of schools, had said as recently as last month that the institute had approved the application and he and his board were preparing to open in 2022.

According to its application, the charter school wants to open in August 2022 with a first-year enrollment of 116 students, expanding to 174 students in Year 2 and 435 students by Year 5.

The proposed charter school would exist to close opportunity gaps for students across Schenectady, specifically, those who live in Hamilton Hill, Mont Pleasant, Vale and Eastern Avenue neighborhoods, with Vale and Hamilton Hill among the city’s most poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and nearly half of its residents Black, the application said.

“There are over 300 families currently sending their children to charter schools in Albany and Troy,” Rogers has said, “and families should have access to great options within Schenectady.”

Charter schools are publicly funded and open to students through a non-discriminatory admissions lottery.

Each charter school is governed by a nonprofit board of trustees. Destine’s proposed board chairwoman is Schenectady lawyer Raysheea Turner.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at 518-419-9766 or [email protected] 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

One Comment

William Aiken

Competition improves the product whether its a business or our education system. Unfortunately, its the enemy of the Teacher’s Union, who for decades have been the beneficiary of a monopoly under their control. School choice has shown to reduce the education disparities among well-to-do and poor kids faster than any other policy.

Congrats to Mr. Rodgers for his perseverance in bringing charter schools to Schenectady amid some formidable opposition. Schenectady parents shouldn’t be faced with having their children trapped in failing schools because of their zip code.

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