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NEW YORK: Syracuse district aims to turn Delaware Elementary into a charter school

connecticut-charter-schoolsThe Syracuse school district is exploring converting Delaware Elementary into a charter school, Superintendent Sharon Contreras said in a letter sent home to Delaware parents today.

The letter says the district believes the charter school route is “the best option” allowed by the state because “it is the least disruptive to Delaware students, families and staff at the school.”

Contreras’ letter says that if the struggling school becomes a charter, all students currently enrolled there would be able to stay if they chose. And it says Delaware could not become a charter school unless the majority of students’ families vote to approve the plan.

The school would continue to belong to the district, but it would be managed by a different entity.

Two entities already have said they are interested in running the charter school — the Syracuse Teachers Association and Onondaga Community College, said Kevin Ahern, president of the STA.

“I think we have some interest in doing that,” Ahern said today. “We’re not prepared to say it’s for sure yet.”

Ahern said the conversion would ensure that whatever entity was chosen to manage the charter school would be required to maintain collective bargaining rights and negotiate with the STA.

Most charter schools in New York and across the country are not required to have unionized teachers.

Neither the district nor the state Education Department has commented on plans for Delaware, other than to say they are unsettled. OCC released a statement saying the college has been approached on how it might help with both Delaware and Fowler High School, but does not know what form that might take.

Ahern said he believes the state would give the district a year for planning, so that Delaware wouldn’t become a charter school until the fall of 2015.

The district is required to either close the school or make substantial changes to it because it has not increased its test scores after three years as a “persistently lowest achieving” school.

Fowler High School and Hughes Elementary are in the same boat, and the district already has announced that it will gradually close those schools and phase in new schools in the same buildings over the next several years.

That’s not an option for Delaware, the superintendent’s letter says, because there is not enough room at nearby schools for Delaware students to attend.

The district was exploring the option of having the State University of New York take over the education of the Delaware students, but SUNY has said it is not interested in doing so.

That leaves two options allowable by the state: to contract with an “education partnership organization” to run the school or convert it into a charter school. The superintendent’s letter says the district is seeking help from the state to explore the charter option.

Source: Syracuse.com – by Paul Riede

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2014 by in Charter Schools, New York, States.

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