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Buffalo Collegiate withdraws charter renewal application


Tue, Feb 28th 2023 09:05 am

Means school will close in June after five years of operation

Submitted on behalf of the Buffalo Collegiate Charter School

The Buffalo Collegiate Charter School board of trustees voted unanimously to withdraw its charter renewal application to the State University of New York, meaning the school will close in June after five years of operation.

“This decision is extremely tough for everyone involved, especially for those of us who founded the school as part of a mission to give our families educational choice and college preparation,” said board Chair Jamel Perkins. “We fully understand the impact this has on our families, students, faculty and staff, as well as the broader charter community.”

The decision via board vote Feb. 10 comes after two-plus years of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the impactful issues in the school’s immediate community of the last nine months, including the events of May 14, and an ongoing teacher shortage.

The board and administration pledged to work closely with all stakeholders to find new positions and new schools to ease this transition as much as possible. The decision will put 300 rising fifth-through-ninth graders into other Buffalo public schools and other charters in September. The collegiate students will also have an opportunity to take part in the citywide charter school lottery this spring for new placements.

Each charter school in New York functions on a five-year “charter” that gives it permission to operate, though with provisions and expectations most public schools do not have to meet. Toward the end of each five-year term, the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute (CSI) evaluates a school’s performance, financial stability and strategic approach.

As part of the law governing charter schools, CSI reported in a draft renewal decision to collegiate late last month that it did not qualify for a charter extension because the school did not meet the required operational, performance and academic success metrics. On Feb. 10, the board formally withdrew its renewal application to SUNY/CSI.

“There is an appeal process, and the initial reaction is, of course, to fight this; to make CSI’s evaluators change their minds. But a calm analysis shows that CSI examined our school thoroughly,” Perkins said. “CSI based its draft decision on the facts and we, as a school and a governing board, need to accept that this did not succeed. COVID is certainly a major factor here, as are recent impactful events in our community, which we understand, but cannot change. We are heartily sorry for this, and we take responsibility for the outcome.”

Meetings with parents, faculty and staff were held Monday afternoon after they received informational letters. More meetings will be offered later this week.

“We know our students will be upset and unsettled by this news. Parents and faculty are working over the next few days to reassure them that, while they will change schools, that is nine months away,” Perkins added. “For the rest of the school year, their educational lives will remain here. They’ll want to know about their friends, teachers and coaches, but young children are resilient and adapt well.”

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