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State panel to consider renewal of Roosevelt Children's Academy's charter

The Roosevelt Children's Academy is pictured Thursday, Jan.

The Roosevelt Children's Academy is pictured Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

The state panel charged with approving renewal of Roosevelt Children's Academy's charter is expected to decide at a special hearing Tuesday if the school will remain open after this academic year.

The SUNY Board of Trustees Charter School Committee voted earlier this month against accepting a recommended renewal of the charter, saying it needed more information about the academy's finances, including the more than $20 million it has in reserves.

The school, founded in 2000 and one of five charter schools on Long Island, has about 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The three-member committee is scheduled to meet at the SUNY Global Center on East 55th Street in Manhattan. Parents and educators from the academy are expected to attend to urge the panel to grant the renewal.

"We are cautiously optimistic," said the Rev. Reginald Tuggle, the academy's board president and one of its founders. "We think we responded to the concerns they had regarding our finances and our reserve fund, and we are prepared."

The SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which monitors some New York charter schools and makes recommendations to the committee, had recommended a five-year renewal.

The academy's charter will expire if it is not renewed by late June. Should that occur, the school could close at the end of the academic year. The last day of classes is June 23, according to its website.

The school has been on probation and operating under a corrective plan, with fiscal oversight. Monitors have noted that improvements were made, and that several of the financial and academic issues occurred under previous school leaders.

While students' scores on state tests had been declining, monitors also have said the school has been spending money on the academic program.

Concerns about more than $20 million the academy set aside for construction of a high school arose at the committee's February meeting, when charter renewal first came up for consideration. The decision on the renewal was postponed.

At a March 6 meeting, committee chair Joseph W. Belluck said he was concerned that money had been taken from state aid and "stockpiled for future facility use."

Academy officials have said plans for a high school have been scrapped. The school has been looking for space to house the current student population, now in trailers and rentals.

Student registration for the 2015-16 year is underway. School officials have been telling parents to "proceed as if the school is going to be open in September," Tuggle said.

Juliet Suite Hinds, of Roosevelt, plans to attend the meeting. She has two grandchildren who attend the academy, one in eighth grade and another in fourth. Another already graduated.

"I am very pleased with the progress they have made," she said.


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