Proposed Charter School in Peekskill Outlines Objectives

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Many community members gathered last week at the Elks Lodge in Peekskill to hear information about the Guardian Academy, a new charter school that is looking to open on First Street where Assumption School is currently located.

The Guardian Academy will be a public charter school, funded by the state. Discussions of a possible charter school began when it was confirmed in January by the Archdiocese of New York that Assumption School would be closing in June.

According to the founding board of education, and Lead Applicant Audrey Warn, the school will start small. They will use a kindergarten to third grade model and grow by one grade each year.

The state must look at a number of factors while reviewing the application. For example, the building the school will be held in must reach certain health and safety standards. The state must also review the curriculum the school will provide.

The attendees were each given a handout promising great things for the charter school. Among the promises were “a rigorous curriculum,” a “value infused curriculum,” and a “robust and structured English-Arts Program”.

Also, unlike the Assumption School, the curriculum will not be religion-based. Warn made it clear last Tuesday night that the Academy will be totally different from the closing Catholic school. “This is not a conversion,” she emphasized.

Despite the information given by the board, many community members voiced concerns. Mike Morry, the father of a five-year old in the Peekskill School District, said he was worried about accountability.

Unlike the public schools, where community members can vote on budgets and personnel, the charter school will not provide voting power.

“I am concerned about the ability of the public to have influence over the cost associated with educating these kids with public school dollars.” said Morry. He also expressed concerns regarding the possible resources that might be diverted to charter school students, from the Peekskill public schools.

In contrast, there were also those in attendance who welcomed the idea of a charter school, and the ability to have options for their child’s education.

“We pay so much in school taxes I think giving parents a choice is important,” said Elaine Dallapia, a mother of three children who attend Peekskill schools.

Dallapia, who is herself a product of the Peekskill School District, also believes that a charter school could motivate the existing schools.

“I think if you have a separate charter school here then it becomes a bit competitive, and I don’t think that is a bad thing,” she said.

Warn acknowledged that there are fundamental differences between a charter school and public school that seemingly put the charter school at a disadvantage. For example, the state provides less “per-pupil” funding to a charter school than a public school. Warn gave the example of a public school that receives $20,000 in funding per pupil. A comparable charter school would receive approximately $15,000 or $16,000 per pupil.

However, she also pointed out advantages that charter schools have over public schools. “They often represent a smaller class size and more manageable, flexible and creative hiring policies,” said Warn. ”So you can assess your student needs, you can assess student population, and respond accordingly and more quickly than the traditional public schools.”

If the state approves the application, the school will open in the fall of 2014. For more information, send an email to

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