© 2023 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Central NY charter school wants to open another location

Charter schools across New York State could be getting a boost, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of State address last week, proposed adding another 100 slots to the state’s charter school cap and lifting the regional limit on the schools. One non-profit charter school operator in the Syracuse area is already bursting at the seams and looking to expand.

Uniform-clad students hop on the bus after a day at the Syracuse Academy of Science charter school on Syracuse’s southside. Superintendent Tolga Hayali says this tuition-free charter school, which focuses on STEM subjects, may not be for everyone  

"We are just an option. Our option is being a small size, long day, there are 195 days, There are some things kids might not like, but this is what we believe,” said Hayali.

In addition to those differences from most public school, theses charter school kids wear uniforms, athletics are limited, and home visits by the school are a must.

And families are chomping at the bit to get in.

"We have more than 1,300 students on the waiting list right now for this building, right now in Syracuse. I think about 254 for [the] academy in Utica charter school."   

The Syracuse Academy of Science
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Hayali says that waiting list has prompted the non-profit that runs the schools in Syracuse and Utica to apply to the state for permission to open another charter  in Syracuse. It will be much the same as the current Syracuse Academy, with one difference: a bigger focus on citizenship and volunteerism.

“And I know we are doing this [volunteering] in the high school[s], in the civics class, 40 hours and it’s great,” said Hayali. “But why not start it in kindergarten level -- five hours, ten hours, and talk about it. And why do we do this?  We certainly believe we get so much from the community. And how do we get back to them, how do we say thank you.”

The application process starts next month.  Hayali hopes the state makes a decision on their application by late spring, and the school could potentially open up in 2016 with grades K-2 and ultimately serve more than 975 students by 2026.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.