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State increases Riverhead Charter School’s enrollment to 700 students

03/15/2017 12:00 PM |

The New York State Board of Regents on Monday extended the Riverhead Charter School’s charter through the end of the 2021-22 school year.

Through the resolution approved Monday, the K-8 school on Main Road in Calverton also received state authority to expand its maximum authorized enrollment from 414 students to 700 students.

“The Riverhead Charter School is ecstatic about the Board of Regents’ decision to extend our charter for five years — the maximum amount afforded under N.Y. State — as well as our ability to expand to serve over 700 students,” principal and executive director Raymond Ankrum wrote in an email.

“This is a true testament of the hard work of our students, families and our educators. Lastly, the RCS Board of Trustees deserves a lot of credit for allowing school leaders to be thought-partners, and for always putting our students first.”

The decision from the Board of Regents says the school is achieving all “academic performance benchmarks.”

“RCS is exceeding enrollment and retention targets as prescribed by the Board of Regents for students who are economically disadvantaged, meeting targets for students who are English language learners, and making good faith efforts to meet the enrollment target for students with disabilities,” the decision reads. “The school is implementing the mission, key design elements, education program and organizational plan set forth in the charter.”

The school draws its students mainly from the Riverhead, Longwood and William Floyd school districts, according to Mr. Ankrum.

Charter schools are public schools, but their funding comes from the home district of each enrolled student based on a cost-per-pupil formula devised by the state. While charter schools are exempt from many state education department regulations, they must write and comply with a charter or risk having it revoked by the state.

The Riverhead Charter School was founded in 2001 by Molly Roach and Dave MacKnee, frequent critics of the Riverhead school district. At that time, Mr. MacKnee was a member of the Riverhead school board. It gained state approval that year and its charter has been renewed five times since.

According to statistics for the 2016-17 school year cited in the approval resolution, 74 percent of the Riverhead Charter School’s students qualify as being economically disadvantaged, 36 percent as English Language Learners and 11 percent as students with disabilities.

The Regents said the charter school’s aggregate academic outcomes exceed those of the Riverhead Central School District and are approaching, but still below, state averages for both English and math test scores in grades 3-8.

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