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Public Hearing Held On Charter School Proposal

OSWEGO, NY – The second public hearing for the Renaissance Charter School project was held Thursday.

Three speakers took the opportunity to express thier opinions on the prpject.

In August 2012, a public hearing to discuss the proposed charter school closed without a single comment. Organizers had received news that their application was not convincing enough in certain areas and it looked like it was not going to be forwarded for approval.

So, they decided to withdraw it, fine tune it and resubmit it in February 2013.

Thursday’s public hearing was required because the charter school is being proposed within the Oswego City School District, explained Bill Foley, Oswego City School District Clerk.

“We are hoping at some point to open this school in Oswego,” said Adrian Ieta, who, along with his wife, Rodica, began the puch for the charter school in late 2011.

The charter school would be publicly funded with an alternative curriculum, based on the classical curriculum adopted by most private schools, he said.

“I support this as a citizen of this city,” Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen added. “It’s nice to have alternatives.”

Gary Mix, interim superintendent of the school district, read from a prepared statement.

“The merits of the historic reforms, including APPR and the Common Core, have tremendous potential to under-achieve, despite the millions of dollars spent and contracted to private vendors due to the inadequacy of  such (state) planning and support,” he said.

Charter schools, nationally, have a dismal record of success, he pointed out.

He quoted data showing that 37 percent of charter school students nationally perform significantly worse than students in the corresponding neighborhood public schools. Additionally, 46 percent performed comparatable while only only 17 percent actually performed better.

Studies have shown that charter schools’ achievement is “indistinguishable” from that of traditional public schools; some are very successful, some are troubled and struggling and the rest are somewhere in between – just like traditional public schools.

“Charter school performance really does not live up to the expectations to justify the reduced resources in more needy student populations left in the neighborhood public school,” he said. “Now is not the time to continue experiments with public education. It is, however, time to identify the exsting issues with historic reforms and ensure the appropriate support is provided to correct and move forward to improve the quality of education for all students.”

It’s the wrong time to approve a charter school in Oswego, he concluded.

“I think a charter school would be good for the area because of the flexibilty it offers for education,” Ieta told Oswego County Today following the public hearing.

Following the reviewers’ comments received from the SUNY Charter Schools Institute (regarding their first application), they reviewed and revamp the application to resubmit it.

“It is much better organized,” Ieta explained. “If this does not work, there will be other attempts.”

They hope to hear back from the state in about a month or so, he added.

The original plan was to have the school open in September 2013 and start with grades 5 and 6, to continue into high school. Each year, two new grade 5 classes would be added as the other student progressed into higher grades.

Foley will be accepting written comments (120 E. First St., Oswego) or they may be sent to [email protected]