Startup charter school buys Community Charter School - The Buffalo News
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Startup charter school buys Community Charter School

A planned auction of the Community Charter School building scheduled for Saturday has been canceled after another startup charter school agreed to buy the entire East Side property and its contents for a higher price than might have been fetched at the public sale.

The new Charter School of Inquiry, which won approval to open late last month from the State Board of Regents, will purchase the 42,000-square-foot facility at 404 Edison Ave., paying an undisclosed price for the 2.18-acre property and two-story brick building. The new school will also purchase all of the equipment, furnishings and other contents as part of the deal, which isn’t expected to close for a couple of months.

“It’s just an absolutely perfect situation,” said auctioneer Cash Cunningham, owner of Cash Realty & Auctions. “They were specifically looking for something on the East Side. It’s the right size for them, and having all the equipment in place is absolutely ideal for them. There are some things they’ll want to upgrade and replace, but this gives them the bulk of what they need.”

The deal came together quickly over the last week, through intermediaries, after Cunningham announced plans for the 10 a.m. auction Saturday.

“It’s unfortunate that Community Charter School is closing, but I’m pleased that there will be another charter school to provide services for those students on the East Side of Buffalo,” said Denise Luka, head of school at Community Charter.

CSI plans to open its doors in August 2015, focusing on children who are at risk of academic failure. Co-founded by former Buffalo Board of Education President Helene H. Kramer and five other education veterans, CSI plans to use an “inquiry-based approach” to instruction, teaching children to apply their knowledge rather than just memorizing and repeating facts. The curriculum includes a focus on literacy and comprehension, and students will learn to ask questions, investigate problems, interpret results and communicate their findings.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” Kramer said. “To have that almost behind us lets us focus on the next steps, including recruiting for a school leader and focusing on the educational program.”

The school will open with 50 children each in kindergarten, first and second grades, and will add another grade each year to reach 350 students through sixth grade after its first five years.

“It was a charter school before, and it fit the profile of what we needed. It could accommodate the number of children that we wanted, and serve the community in that location,” Kramer said. “Community Charter School did a very good job of renovating the building.”

Meanwhile, for Community Charter School, which lost its yearlong battle with the state to stay open, the agreement resulted in a sale price that was higher than the pre-auction estimate, for both the real estate and contents. “It’s a terrific deal for the buyer and a better deal than they would have had at auction for the seller,” Cunningham said. “So it worked out very well, and I’m happy to take a day off.”


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