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New charter school begins recruiting

The newly formed Niagara Charter School kicked off its student recruitment campaign Thursday night as 14 adults and an 8-year-old girl, I-siah Smith, peppered school officials with questions about the school.

The session was held in the Doris Jones Resource Building, 3001 Ninth St.

"Will they have [pupil] safety patrols?" the girl wanted to know.

Since the school will be located on Lockport Road across from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, School Business Manager Greg P. Norton said it would probably not be needed because all pupils will be bused to school and have no need to walk.

I-siah said the best thing about the school -- which Norton assured will be built and ready for occupancy by September -- "It has a big gym."

Her mom, Angela Smith, said she has already registered I-siah to go to the new school but noted the gym had no influence on her decision.

"It looks wonderful. I want my daughter to go to this school. I especially like the way they handle security and discipline, and teach children how to conduct themselves."

Norton said the school has tight security and ways of handling children that discourage bad behavior and teach them proper manners -- even table manners -- and how to resolve conflicts.

Those methods and much other information, running the spectrum from school curriculum, class size, uniforms, activities, the 200-day school year, and how teachers are able to take children who are far behind in their studies and help them catch them up, were provided in detail.

Another mother, Toni Parks, asked if the planes at the reserve base would cause a distraction for pupils. Norton said the planes are a half mile away and pose no problems.

Norton also stressed that a charter school is not a private school. "It's a public school. You don't have to pay tuition. The state pays for it."

After the session, Norton said the school already has received well over a dozen applications, which must be in by May 1. A lottery to select which kindergarten through fourth grade applicants will be accepted is scheduled for May 6 at Niagara County Community College. The school has room for 240 pupils for the coming school year and will expand by one grade each subsequent year until there are about 432 pupils through the eighth grade. Economically disadvantaged students will have preference.

The next public information session will be at noon Saturday in the City of Tonawanda Public Library, 333 Main St. Officials plan to hold about six more sessions, said the Rev. Richard D. Hague, the president of the school's board.

Further information or applications may be obtained by going to the school's office, 1370 Military Road, or calling 297-4520.


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