Dear Utica Academy of Science Parents:
I am pleased to announce that the New York State Board of Regents has approved our plan to expand the Utica Academy of Science Charter School to include grades K-5. We are grateful to the Board of Regents, as well as our own School Board members, parents, teachers and alumni who have supported this plan.
Parents have long emphasized the importance of having a choice in the public schools their children attend. Our school has been providing that choice in Utica since it opened in 2013. This past June, the first class of seniors in our existing grades 6-12 school became our first graduates. We are thrilled that all of our seniors graduated, and all were accepted to colleges.
With the approval of our plan, we are now preparing to add a grades K-5 school in Utica. We will start with kindergarten and first grade this fall, then add a grade each year thereafter until we become a full grades K-5 school in the 2022-23 academic year. We strongly believe that adding the elementary school will not only bring a viable public school choice to families with young children, but it also will enhance our existing middle and high schools in years to come.
As we have shown in our Syracuse Academy of Science Charter Schools, students who start school in our kindergarten and progress through the grades are the best prepared to begin the challenging middle and high school years. We expect those same results in our Utica school as it becomes a full grades K-12 school.
In his 2016 column “Schools That Work,” New York Times columnist David Leonhardt cited studies from researchers at Harvard, M.I.T., Columbia and elsewhere who have found that the best charter schools are “high expectation, high support” schools. Such schools offer a longer school day and year, set high expectations for students, and provide extra support and feedback to classroom teachers. Our schools do all of those things.
Our new K-5 school in Utica, like our elementary schools in Syracuse, will have two teachers in each 25-student classroom, in addition to a resource teacher, a literacy teacher, an art teacher and a music teacher. Although our schools have a strong focus on math and science, we believe that the arts are a key to opening up a child’s creativity and curiosity.
We understand that some people oppose the very idea of charter schools, believing they take away from traditional public schools. However, we would like to point out that our sole goal is to provide choices for Utica’s parents and opportunities for their children. Our expansion does both. Our record in Syracuse, as well as our success so far in Utica, is the best proof of that.
The Utica City School District has legitimate concerns about children who leave district schools to come to our school. But shouldn’t parents be able to decide what schools their children attend? Wealthy families have always had that choice, either sending their children to private schools or moving to a wealthy suburb. Shouldn’t our urban families have a choice, too?
It is important to note that charter schools such as ours operate on significantly less taxpayer money than traditional district schools. Charter schools receive no state money for building, renting or renovating schools, as other public schools do. And our Utica school gets less than two-thirds of the money, per pupil, than the district schools receive.
We look forward to offering our successful education model to families in Utica. And we look forward to cooperating in any way we can with the Utica City School District in the shared task of helping all of our city’s children succeed.
SANY Charter Schools