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Charter school close to reality

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Charter school close to reality
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State funding cuts have debilitated school districts across New York. In an effort to keep those cuts from impacting students, a Twin Tiers group has come up with the idea of creating their own charter school. YNN's Katie Husband reports.

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- It's a dream that every educator wants: See their students grow and succeed. Organizers behind Finn Academy-An Elmira Charter School, are hoping to do just that through their new endeavor.

"It does have higher levels of accountability required by statute of it than the traditional public school and it has to meet that accountability plan or it will lose its charter," said Maggie Thurber, Finn Academy-An Elmira Charter School, co-founder.

And the project is in motion. A letter of intent for the proposed charter school was sent to the state this week. The kindergarten through second, eventually kindergarten through eight, school would be part of the Elmira City School District. However, when students attend the charter school, the state aid will follow, causing more budget strain for the district.

"We're operating in the red, that our expenses outweigh and outrun our revenues and we're going to have a tough road to haul over the next few years and figuring out what we can forego in order to keep us solvent," said Joe Hochreiter, Elmira City School District Superintendent.

Despite the financial challenges, the district could face if a charter school was formed, district officials understand the intent of the organizers of Finn Academy-An Elmira Charter School.

"They really wanted to find a different way or a loophole perhaps of providing top-notch educational experiences for kids, perhaps using the charter school route, then given the constraints that we have with funding and tax caps and all those good things," said Hochreiter.

"Provide innovative programming that helps kids and I care about that and I also happen to have a passion for teacher leadership and building the capacity of a team to create a vision together," said Thurber.

That vision begins with the letter of intent and a proposal that they will be submitting this coming April.

If the state does approve the charter school, it will open in September 2014. The difference from the regular district is that the charter school would have longer school days and a longer academic year. Its main focus would be to prepare students for high school and beyond. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP