Hearings are underway in Syracuse that could lead to more charter schools in the city. There are four charter schools in Syracuse right now, and New York State is considering proposals for two more.
Mirza Tihic is a leader in an effort to create The Emerald Charter School for students from grades 9-12 on Syracuse’s Northside.
"We focus on kids who have difficulty engaging, we focus on expedentiary learning, we focus on the passion, and we also focus on the humanities," said Tihic.
The school would draw 90 students from all across the city of Syracuse and offer a kind of learning style they don’t get in other charter schools or the city school district, according to Tihic.
The other application is for the CNY Institute of Academics and Performance Charter School, which would focus on the arts and sports.
There are hearings this month for both schools, with an eye toward opening in September 2020, if the state approves.
For Tihic, the option of a different kind of learning style for students who aren’t currently engaged in a city school district with a graduation rate that hovers around 60 percent can be transforming.
"I know what it means not to be engaged in school as a refugee. I know the struggle,” he said. "And I believe education is the ultimate goal for us to continue to prosper as a community, a nation and a city."
The idea of more charter schools in Syracuse is an issue that affects the Syracuse City School District's budget. The district says that the tuition rate the district pays for charter students will go up 3.5 percent under the governor’s proposed budget, and more charter school students coming into the system next year are responsible for a $3.8 million increase in the district’s 2019-2020 budget.