Charter school on track to fill seats

By MIAWLING LAM

The Tech International Charter School, a new middle school slated to open in Kingsbridge this September, appears to be on track to fill each of its 132 sixth-grade seats.

Officials touted the community’s strong support of the school during last Tuesday’s board meeting and said interest in TI remains strong.

TI co-founder and executive director Steve Bergen declined to discuss specific enrolment numbers but said the school would have no problems filling their six classrooms.

“Applications are going really well. Hiring is going really well. In December, I was nervous about both things. I’m no longer nervous about that,” Bergen said.

“We’ve had so many people, at both the parent level in CSD 10 and the job market, who have just said to us, ‘this is just so great.’”

At their previous board meeting on Tuesday, February 7, authorities said they had received 70 applications from interested families.

Despite the strong Bronx interest, it is unclear whether any students from Riverdale have shown an interest in attending the school, sited in a 10-story mixed-use building at 3120 Corlear Avenue.

Speaking publicly for the first time on the issue, M.S/H.S 141 principal Lori O’Mara said TI didn’t pose an immediate threat to the future of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy.

Appearing before the Community Board 8 education committee last week, O’Mara said she has already received 243 sixth-grade applications for next year’s cohort, a marked increase from last year’s figures.

“A few of my parents association folks went to some of the informational evenings, and their take on it was that some of the ideas behind it were still rather vague,” she said.

“They weren’t really formed yet, and they didn’t feel comfortable signing their child up for something that was untested.

“Some of the other pieces were that their school day goes to 5 p.m., and there were concerns that people have—children preparing for bar mitzvahs or sports programs and how they didn’t want to not have their child do any of those things because they’re in school until 5 p.m.

“The feedback wasn’t panicky from our parents going ‘oh my god, we’re going to lose students.’”

O’Mara cited the charter school’s lack of an on-site lunchroom, gym, library or auditorium as being another turn-off for some parents.

CB8 member Amy Moore also said the feedback from P.S. 81 has been relatively subdued.

“The feedback was sort of, ‘it’s untested and we don’t know,’” she said.

“Down the road, if it becomes something that looks good, it’s a different issue, but I don’t think this first year, you’re going to see a tremendous drop in your numbers at 141.”

TI will place a strong emphasis on technology—students will be given their own laptop and e-reader—and children will be encouraged to develop international connections by interacting with partner schools.

Officials have lined up two schools in each Canada and Mexico and one in India to become TI international partners, allowing students to breach barriers and expand their global connections.

TI is currently accepting applications and will continue to do so until Friday, April 6.

Anyone living in the state of New York can apply for a seat, but pupils who reside within District 10, which encompasses a large swath of the northwest Bronx including Riverdale, Fordham and University Heights, will be given priority.

Admissions will be done through a lottery process, with the draw being held at 9 a.m. on April 13.

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