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Editorial: Resurrect plan for district-run ‘charter’

Editorial: Resurrect plan for district-run ‘charter’

Best way for Schenectady to handle charter school failure

No one took him very seriously at the time, but maybe former Schenectady School Superintendent John Falco was onto something when he proposed, back in July 2004, replacing the International Charter School with a district-run, “back-to-basics”-themed magnet school, stressing “discipline, a dress code and daily homework.” That just might be the best way for the school district to integrate the 500-odd students who’ll be coming back next fall, in the aftermath of the charter’s failure.

Parents who chose the charter over Schenectady schools the past several years did so because they had problems with the way those schools were being run. A good many of the parents supported the charter to the bitter end and have expressed disappointment over the state’s decision to close it. They’re unlikely to be satisfied simply re-enrolling their kids in traditional city schools, so why not try to give them something different — especially considering that most schools in the district are already overcrowded?

School board President Jeff Janiszewski suggested a couple of weeks ago that an arrangement allowing the district to use the charter school’s building — the Mohonasen school district’s former Draper School — might make the most sense among the possible choices. It would probably be the best option from the school district’s standpoint, and many of the charter parents should like it — provided the district takes steps to make the new school special.

It also might be available for a steal, since the charter school is likely to default on its mortgage now that it’s being shuttered.

Unfortunately, the district was quite biased against the charter from Day One, and not only did its administrators do their darndest to undermine its success, they have even been accused of giving charter students who come back to the district for high school a hard time (a charge that Superintendent Eric Ely has denied).

It’s time to let bygones be bygones. Make the school district one big, happy family again by coming up with a plan to open a new, better-run version of the charter — right on the grounds of the old one.

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