Thursday, September 24, 2009

Group to Pursue Charter School Application

Intends to Open Academy of Science in District 24

By Conor Greene

One of the men behind a proposal to start a charter school within District 24 says his group plans to move ahead with its plans in hopes of opening next September.

The group, City Academy of Science Charter School, came under fire when its representatives failed to attend the July Community Education Council 24 meeting for a scheduled public hearing on the plan. This week, applicant Furkan Kosar said nobody attended because they weren’t aware the hearing had been scheduled. He said his group is working with the state Department of Education to complete the application process.

A spokeswoman for the state DOE said Tuesday that the application is still under review and the Board of Regents is scheduled to take action on it in December. At that point, the application could be approved, rejected or sent back to the group for additional details. She said that attending the public hearing is not mandatory and not doing so won’t affect the status of the application.

Kosar stressed that his group “has nothing to hide” and was simply unaware of the scheduled hearing. “We are willing to go to a public hearing again, but they told me they don’t think it’s possible,” he said. “That part of the application is not mandatory, but of course in terms of the reputation and credibility of the application, it’s good to have the public’s support… We’re here to serve the Queens community.”

The plan remains to open a science and technology based school in September 2010 within District 24. Kosar said his group is working with several local realtors to secure a facility at an appropriate location, but declined to say where within the district he is considering. “As soon as the DOE gives me the green light, I have a couple of investors that really believe in our project who will put the money down and renovate the facility,” he said, adding that he has three properties under consideration. “I don’t want to scare people [but] as soon as I hear from the DOE I will make it official.”

An executive summery of the proposal says only that the group is looking into properties in Maspeth, Glendale and Long Island City.

According the proposal summary, the college preparatory-level school would initially serve students in grades 7 to 9 before expanding to 12th grade. The group expects first-year expenses of about $2.8 million, against projected revenues of about $2.6 million. The shortfall is expected to be made up by private donations or loans of $200,000 from an “unspecified source.” It isn’t clear how much of the group’s revenues would come from public funding.

“I want to send the message that I’m here to the community,” said Kosar. “I would like to give the opportunity for students who don’t have enough challenges and didn’t find the right environment to improve themselves in the local district. I’m not here to create miracles, but eventually I can promise the student’s scores will improve. Our goal is to motivate them to four year colleges and to do something good for their community.”

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