Share this article

print logo

School rally urges charter renewal

Charles Anderson has nothing but good things to say about the Community Charter School.

One granddaughter graduated from there at the end of the last school year with a 96 grade-point average.

Another granddaughter – a first-grader at the school – is performing well academically, too.

"The school has done some wonderful things. It's a very decent school," said Anderson.

He was among about 100 concerned parents, teachers, administrators, clergy, elected officials and community leaders who attended a "Save Our School" rally Friday at the Edison Avenue school.

The theme was "My Community Matters" and the purpose was to send a message to the state Department of Education and the Board of Regents to renew the school's charter beyond June 2013.

A decision could be made as soon as Dec. 10, said Daniel S. Ricigliano, president of the school's board of trustees. Indications are that the Board of Regents will vote not to renew the charter, based on a likely negative recommendation from the state Department of Education.

School supporters were encouraged to write a letter, make a phone call or send an email to state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. Also, preprinted postcards with a message urging that the school be allowed to continue in operation were distributed and will be mailed to King.

"It's time for action. There needs to be a sense of urgency," Ricigliano said. "Let them know this school is a serious neighborhood asset."

The Regents awarded the original charter in October 2001. The school, which has students in kindergarten through sixth grade, is now in the final year of a four-year charter.

The possibility that the school could close surfaced after Education Department officials made site visits in May and September. One area of concern was academic performance, which was not at the level where the state wanted, school officials said.

So the school, which has a current enrollment of 315, created and began implementing a comprehensive "School Improvement Plan." It addresses all aspects of the school's operations to improve academic achievement, said Head of School Denise Luka.

"We understand that our test scores are not where they're supposed to be," Luka said. "But we're taking several specific steps to change that."

Changes under the school improvement plan include:

*New members of the board of trustees;

*Teacher compensation tied to a merit-pay provision;

*Individualized learning plans;

*Extended learning opportunity through on-campus Huntington Learning Center;

*A four-phase model as a way to look at data and direct dialogue;

*A literacy series aligned with the Common Core State Learning Standards;

*A solid accountability system;

*Literacy and math instructional coaching.

Danyell Howze attended the rally because she sees the progress her fourth-grade daughter has made within two years of attending Community Charter School.

"She made the honor roll this year. She's doing very well in spelling," Howze said. "I'm very proud of her."

If there was one thing Howze said she would tell state officials, it would be to "please keep our school open. It's for the kids."