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September 26th, 2012

Let’s hear it for the Newburgh Prep school

Dear Editor:

On Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Newburgh Free Library/Board of Education Complex on Grand Street in the City of Newburgh, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District will hold a NYS Education Department-required public hearing about the proposed Newburgh Preparatory Charter High School for students who have dropped out of high school.

At the hearing, representatives of the school district will detail the costs to the district that will result from the operation of the new school. For the past 15 months, the message has been that this charter school is not like most other charter schools. In most cases, when a student moves from a district school to a charter school, the funding that the State of New York provides to the district towards the education of that student moves with him or her. This “per-pupil state aid” comes from state, not local, taxes, but the district loses that student’s funding.

This is not the case with Newburgh Prep. Since the students whom Newburgh Prep will recruit are still school age but not attending school because they have dropped out, the school district will not lose state aid for those students. The amount of state aid coming into Newburgh, in fact, will increase due to the existence.
As with non-public schools that exist within the school district (charter schools are public schools because they are supported by public money), the school district is responsible for certain costs including special education and transportation. Although the district may have to cover these kinds of costs for certain Newburgh Prep students, the largest amount of money for operating Newburgh Prep will come from per-pupil state aid which the school district is not receiving now.

When all is said and done, the relatively minimal cost to the school district for helping to provide an education for its dropouts is money well spent. If there is no hope for the young people of Newburgh, then there is no hope for the future of the city.

Newburgh Prep is at the final stage of NYS Education Department approval. On Thursday night the community has an opportunity to lend its support.

Tom Fitzgerald

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