Even though the State Education Department has closed three charter schools in Rochester – the most recent being the Career Mentoring Charter School – the demand for charters doesn't appear to be slowing one bit.
The Rochester school district has lost about 5,200 city students who have enrolled in the 11 charter schools within the city. A 12th, the Exploration Elementary Charter School for Science and Technology, has been approved to open later this year. Two more charters are operating in the Greece school district.
And the Rochester school board will hold a public hearing for another proposed charter school on Thursday, April 27. This latest proposal, which has been in the works for several years, is for a Rochester River Charter School. If the state approves it, the school would open with grades K-2 and grow to K-6, would be located near the Genesee River, and would have a curriculum that includes exploration of the river. The hearing will be at 5:30 p.m. at the district's central offices, 131 West Broad Street.
Although charter schools and their impact on traditional public schools continue to be controversial, parents – especially in urban districts like Rochester – continue to drive demand. As with individual traditional public schools, charter schools have a mixed performance record, but some are out-performing many city schools.
For instance, even though some city schools performed well on state tests, only 6.7 percent of all city school students were proficient on the 2016 English language arts tests, and only 7.2 percent were proficient in math. Students at True North Rochester Prep charter school reached 39 percent proficiency in ELA and 56 percent in math. That kind of record helps fuel demand.