SCHENECTADY – A kindergarten through grade 5 charter school has been approved to open next year.
On the recommendation of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, the SUNY Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee unanimously approved the Destine Preparatory Charter School Thursday during a virtual meeting.
Committee Chairman Joseph W. Belluck said he had met with and was impressed by the applicant’s leadership and board of directors.
Chrisheena Hill, co-principal of the KIPP Albany Community Charter Elementary School, will serve as Destine Preparatory Charter School’s academic committee chairwoman.
“I’m just really excited to expand reach, to support our scholars in this area, to ensure they are receiving an equitable education,” Hill told the committee.
Also serving on that committee will be Andrea Leighton, director of early childhood programming at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center. Leighton joined the virtual meeting from Israel.
Belluck noted that Cherly Almonte Lare, a member of the charter school’s finance committee who’s a former accountant with General Electric, had expressed “tough-minded financial controls for the school.”
“They have mental health professionals, a lot of charter school experience, and representatives who worked in the New York State Senate,” Belluck said, “and I thought that they did a good job of putting together a board that will provide the proper oversight.”
The school’s mission is to develop scholars to become future change-makers through rigorous academics, social emotional learning and affirmation of their identities through a STEM-focused curriculum.
The school plans to locate in Schenectady, opening in August 2022.
The lead applicant and head of schools is Re’Shawn Rogers, a former academic dean at Achievement First Aspire Elementary School in Brooklyn.
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, while two local lawmakers, state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Phil Steck, D-Schenectady, put out a joint statement opposing the proposed charter school, questioning whether diverting resources from the Schenectady City School District would foster fairness and equity in public education.
According to its application, the charter school would open in August 2022 with a first-year enrollment of 116 students, expanding to 174 students in year two and 435 students by year five.
The school will exist to close opportunity gaps for students across Schenectady, specifically, those who live in the Hamilton Hill, Mont Pleasant, Vale and Eastern Avenue neighborhoods, with Vale and Hamilton Hill among the city’s most poverty-stricken neighborhoods, with nearly half of its residents Black, the application said.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at 518-419-9766 or [email protected]