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Tapestry Charter will add a high school

Buffalo's Tapestry Charter School has earned a glowing report from a state review agency and today is slated to receive a second five-year operating license and permission to add a high school program.

The State University of New York's Charter Schools Institute said in a 51-page review that Tapestry has exhibited a "robust instructional program," strong leadership, productive community partnerships, parent and student satisfaction and solid finances.

"Compassion, collaboration, community and creativity are manifest throughout the school," the report said.

Based on those findings, the full SUNY board today is expected to renew the school's charter for five years and give Tapestry the green light to begin high school instruction next school year.

Tapestry, which enrolls 217 pupils in kindergarten through grade 8, will add one grade per year until enrollment reaches 504 in kindergarten through grade 12 in 2009-10.

The elementary school is at 40 North St., and school officials are negotiating with St. Mary's School for the Deaf, 2253 Main St., to rent space there for the high school, said Joy Pepper, school director and a Tapestry founder. Lynn Seagren Bass, a Buffalo Public Schools psychologist, has been named high school principal.

Although charter renewal requests are usually acted on in December or January, the Charter Schools Institute said Tapestry should be granted an early renewal because it makes "a compelling and unambiguous case" for relicensing.

"They looked very carefully at what we said we were going to do and saw that we stayed true to our charter and our vision," Pepper said. "They saw it come to life."

The Charter Schools Institute said:

Tapestry has consistently outperformed traditional Buffalo Public Schools by at least 30 percent on state tests.

Last school year, all fourth-graders scored above proficiency on the state's math assessment test, and all but one showed proficiency in science. Half the fourth-graders scored at an advanced level in English, which the report called "a notable accomplishment."

Pepper said the high school program will benefit from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partnerships with Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound and Canisius College.

"We've been doing it right for a number of years, and we'll continue to do it right," she said.

Tapestry plans public meetings on its upcoming high school program at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, 695 Elmwood Ave., and at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Delavan-Grider Community Center, 881 E. Delavan Ave.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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