At today’s meeting, the State University of New York Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee unanimously approved the application of a new charter school in Rochester that would open in August 2013 as a fifth grade and grow to serve students in K-8.
The new school, to be operated by True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School education corporation, will be the company’s third K-8 in the city, if approved by the full board. The group will submit a subsequent application to open a high school in fall 2014, Chief Operating Officer Anna Hall told Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
A location for the school has not yet been identified, but school officials have narrowed the field to three choices, all that fall within the Rochester City School District.
Students at the company’s existing Rochester schools have outperformed the children in corresponding grades within the Rochester public schools, an indicator that Hall said speaks to the success of their particular educational model.
For example, in 2009-10, nearly 65 percent of Rochester Prep students in grades five through eight scored proficient on the state’s English language arts exam, and 76 percent were proficient in math. That’s 40 percentage points higher in ELA and 55.1 percentage points higher in math than the comparable scores within Rochester public schools.
“One of the things that we’re fond of saying is there is no 100 percent solution, but there at 100 1 percent solutions,” Hall said. For one, “we have an extended school day and an extended school year.”
Also, the curriculum focuses extra attention on core subjects.
“We offer double blocks of ELA and math,” she said, “so we have a real focus on the basics to allow us to take students who come in multiple grade levels behind and move them ahead quickly.”
Students at the existing schools have theater, art or physical education classes every day, and middle school students earn enrichment time each day during which they can experience a variety of classes, from music to yoga to chess.
A growth in charter school options has been controversial, and education officials in Rochester have pointed to charter schools as one of the culprits for declining enrollment in traditional public schools.
Despite those concerns, Hall said, “I don’t think we can continue to perpetuate a system that works for adults as long as we know that it’s failing children.”