News

Bronx Charter School for Excellence Wants A Charter in Stamford, CT


By Rob Varnon (via stamfordadvocate.com)

STAMFORD -- An acclaimed Bronx, N.Y., charter school is looking to expand its teaching model to Stamford, where local school officials are struggling to address overcrowding in its elementary schools.

"We would work with the entire community," saidCharlene Reid, head of school for The Bronx Charter School for Excellence. "There are students we can help."

Reid and her group filed an application with the state in January seeking approval to open a second school and establish The Stamford Charter School for Excellence. The state Board of Education would have to approve the application and a public hearing is to be held March 11 at the Stamford Government Center beginning at 6 p.m.

The application was the subject of a discussion at a recent Stamford school board meeting in which it was noted the local board does not have much if any to play role, in the approval process.

However, Reid said she has met with the superintendent and board members about the proposal and has been talking to parents and civic groups about the plan.

The proposed school would be an elementary school that would build its enrollment to nearly 400 students within five years of opening. Students would be selected through an open lottery system.

This would be Stamford's first elementary charter school, with the city having charter schools for middle and high school students. Reid said her school model is different than Stamford Academy andTrailblazers Academy. She said the Stamford Charter School for Excellence would be open to all students.

Reid said the group knows Stamford has crowding problems in its elementary schools, and Stamford Charter would help alleviate them. She said Stamford was chosen carefully over a two-year period by the group as it looks to build on the success its had in the Bronx.

Stamford is looking into property for a new elementary school to deal with overcrowding. This next year, it plans to offer magnet school programs for fifth-graders to attend middle school voluntarily.

The Bronx Charter was a 2012 national Blue Ribbon School and has ranked among the best in New York. It has 554 students attending kindergarten through eighth grade.

Reid said achievement gaps affect both Stamford and the Bronx, where the Bronx Charter has shown success.

Charter schools are in the thick of the education reformation going on across the country, with some seeing them as a threat to public education while others hope they can inject new ideas and approaches.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio just halted an expansion of charter schools, especially those housed in traditional public schools.

Reid said The Bronx School has its own building, as would the Stamford operation. She said the idea would be to rent space at first and then as the school expands, seek a more permanent location.

As far as expenses, the state of Connecticut covers a lot of the costs for charter schools, but Stamford would be responsible for transportation and special education services.