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Charter school plan shelved for Bay Shore, Brentwood and Central Islip

After opposition to a new charter school for Bay Shore, Brentwood and Central Islip erupted, organizers shelved their proposal, though they said Tuesday it would be refiled in December.

"One of our primary goals is to offer educational opportunities to communities and families and recent events have only served to further commit us to remain steady in our resolve," the Long Island Children's Academy Charter School said in a statement Tuesday.

Both the SUNY Charter Schools Institute and the state Board of Regents authorize charters, which are privately run but funded by school districts. If SUNY had approved the academy next month, it would have joined Suffolk County's two charter schools and Nassau's three.

But the academy withdrew its application on Monday, days after more than 200 people packed a Bay Shore Board of Education meeting. The opposition seemed uniform, according to Andrew R. Arcuri, board president.

"Not a single person spoke in favor of it; there were quite passionate opposing stands taken by many community leaders," he said.

Many residents also expressed opposition on a petition posted on the academy's website.

State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said though he did not oppose charters, Bay Shore did not need one. "I think its academic performance speaks for itself."

Central Islip Superintendent Craig G. Carr, in a statement, noted the past several years have seen three failed efforts to create area charter schools.

"The Central Islip school district recognizes the overwhelming sentiment of its residents who are in opposition to the establishment of a charter school," he said.

State Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) objected to diverting resources from the public school system, a spokesman said.

Opposition crossed party lines. Noting lotteries determine who attends charter schools, Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Bay Shore) said this was akin to saying "We are giving up on the public school, and 'Whoever doesn't win the lottery, it's your hard luck.' "

Bay Shore's board last month estimated that if 70 pupils attended the charter school, it would have to slash programs or raise property taxes to make up for the total loss of $1.3 million.

The academy hoped to open in 2016 with 240 students in kindergarten through second grade, growing to 624 students in kindergarten through sixth grade in its fifth year.

To win approval, charters must ensure communities have had "meaningful opportunities for input," according to the SUNY application. And they must demonstrate "a thoughtful process for considering community feedback and incorporating it into the final proposal."

The academy said it planned to embark on an educational program. "It has always been our intention to work collaboratively within the community and we will continue to conduct outreach in order to inform all community members of our goals," the academy said.

"In the process, we hope to address some of the misconceptions that exist concerning charter schools," the academy said.

A spokeswoman for SUNY Charter Institute said it had approved 18 percent of applications submitted for the first time by independent groups.

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