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October 29, 1999

Gaining momentum, charter schools movement draws 90 new proposals

The Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York has received 90 applications from community leaders statewide seeking approval to open new charter schools in 40 different communities next year.

The flood of applications suggests growing public support for the new alternative public schools.

State lawmakers and Governor Pataki late last year agreed on legislation making charter schools possible. The Business Council strongly supported that legislation.

The new law allows the creation of 100 new charter schools in New York that will be independent autonomous public schools operated by not-for-profit entities.

Organizations that can submit proposals for charter schools include colleges and universities, museums, community groups, and businesses.

The new applications include 27 from New York City, 11 from Rochester, and nearly a dozen from Buffalo.

SUNY can grant up to 50 charters under the new law. Eight applications were approved earlier this year, and three schools opened this fall.

Five other charter schools received preliminary approval to open next year.

New charter schools will be chosen from the 90 new applications early next year by the SUNY board of trustees after applications are reviewed by the Charter Schools Institute and outside experts.

"Charter schools have captured the attention of parents, students and educators across New York State because they represent a real opportunity to improve public education," said Robert J. Bellafiore, executive director of the Charter Schools Institute.

"This large number of applications is proof that people all around New York want to be part of this change."

The application list released by the Charter Schools Institute includes the names of the proposed schools, their locations, the size of the schools and the grades they will serve. The names of the lead applicants and the schools' management partners, if any, also are listed for all 90 applications.

In many proposals, leading organizations and universities are included as "community partners" to help plan and organize these charter schools. They include the State University College at Potsdam, St. Bonaventure University, the Teamsters National Black Caucus, Computer Associates, and the Urban Leagues in Long Island, Rochester and Onondaga County.

The release can also be found at the Institute's website, http://www.newyorkcharters.org/.