Plans moving forward for first charter school in Niagara Falls - The Buffalo News

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Plans moving forward for first charter school in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS - A group of parents and other community members is moving forward with a plan to open a charter school in the city.

The school would be called the Academy of Learning and Leadership Charter School, and a full application to the State Education Department is due near the end of the month.

While Niagara Falls residents are already eligible to send their children to Niagara Charter School in Wheatfield, this would be the first charter school within the city limits.

In the group’s letter of intent submitted to the state, the plan calls for the school to open with kindergarten and first grade in the fall of 2015. Every year, another grade would be added until fifth grade students enter in the fall of 2019.

Enrollment at the school is projected to be 132 in the first year of operation, with an enrollment of 452 by the time fifth grade is added.

The lead applicant for the school is Niagara Falls resident Catrina Coffey, a mother of two who works at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. She was previously an elementary school teacher who taught in private and charter schools, as well as for the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services. She would also serve as secretary of an initial board of trustees for the school, according to the group’s letter of intent.

The board of trustees would also include: Daniel Bobbett, an attorney with Zdarsky, Sawicki & Agostinelli; Joel Colombo, president and co-founder of 360 PSG Inc.; Brian Ellsworth, small business owner; J. Kincaid, an accountant with Lougen, Valenti, Bookbinder & Weintraub; Amy Lawrence, associate executive director of Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara Inc.; Jillian Onesi, an administrative assistant at Niagara Falls Public Library; Ned Perlman, senior contract administrator at Health Management Group; and Kate Sarata, executive director of The Service Collaborative of WNY Inc.

The “founding group” of the school also includes other educators and parents: Elizabeth Turner, Stephanie Miranda, Julia Barlow, Megan Battista and Shannon Piazza.

In its letter of intent, the school’s proposed mission “is to foster every child’s fullest potential by providing a rigorous academic program that is driven by research, data and collaborative reflection to empower students to become life-long learners, great citizens and future leaders.”

The school’s academic program will be “driven by data,” and will focus on early literacy, officials said in their letter.

No specific site for the school is mentioned in the letter.

The full application is due March 28 and would be on track for a decision by the state Board of Regents in June.

Admission to the school would be done via lottery.

An email and phone message for the group’s spokesperson were not returned.


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