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Assumption Pastor Eyes A Charter School For Peekskill

The Rev. John Higgins wants to create a charter school at what is now the Assumption School in Peekskill.
The Rev. John Higgins wants to create a charter school at what is now the Assumption School in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Art Cusano

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. ? The pastor of Assumption Church said Friday he will explore using the parish's school building for a public charter school.

The parish school is slated to close in June as part of a retrenchment by the New York Archdiocese.

A press release sent out Friday afternoon by the Rev. John Higgins said a founding board has been organized and a letter of intent filed with the New York State Education Department ? one of two charter school authorizers in New York State.

Charter schools are public schools that are free and open to all students, including those with disabilities. Charter schools are non-selective and enroll students through a non-discriminatory admissions lottery. Each charter school is governed by a volunteer board of trustees, which typically includes educators, community members and leaders from the private sector.

“Assumption School has provided Peekskill families with an educational option for over 100 years," Higgins said. "With its closing, there will be a real void. One of the ways to fill that void is to establish a public charter school at no cost to families. Of course, it would be open to any Peekskill child. I would welcome the building being used as it has been used for all these years ? to educate generations of Peekskill’s children,”

If the authorizers accept the founding board’s application, the charter school will open its doors in September of 2014 and will begin serving children from kindergarten through third grade, with a plan to add one grade a year up to eighth grade.

Higgins said the school would stress “high academic standards” and that while it would not be a Catholic school, it would be guided by a “values-infused curriculum with a goal of forming students who can reflect on their choices and actions and establish a community of mutual respect, interdependence, perseverance and integrity.”

The board will hold town meetings at various locations throughout Peekskill to educate the community, Higgins added.

Charter schools have the freedom to establish their own policies, design their own educational program, and manage their human and financial resources, according to Higgins. In exchange, they are held accountable for raising achievement and helping their students meet state learning standards.

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