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Rochester

Community Meets About Charter School Proposed for Phelps

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Rochester: Community Meets About Charter School Proposed for Phelps
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A proposed charter school in Ontario County is getting a mixed reaction from the community.

Canandaigua resident Donna Bennett has proposed the Classical Charter School of the Finger Lakes. It would set up in the Phelps Community Center.

"It's a public school option for those parents that are looking for something a little bit different, a little bit more traditional," Bennett said.

Many in the rural community aren't sold on the idea, starting with local district leaders.

"Her heart is in the right place. She wants to do good things for kids. Our opposition to it is what it does for our kids," said Midlakes Superintendent Mike Ford.

Ford says the proposal couldn't come at a worst time. Rural districts are already struggling financially, and for every student they lose to this charter school, state and local aid would go with them.

"This is just the perfect storm. Very tough financial times, very difficult loss if revenue to a charter and I think it will be just devastating to the district," Ford said.

Ford said the district could lose 40 students the first year, and $465,000 will go with them. That's what parents who oppose the plan are upset about the most.

"I think it is really not an appropriate time to be talking about spending money on a new school when we what really need to get done is thinking about getting money that is owed to us from the state and continue working to improve the current public schools system that we have," said Geneva resident Marnae Ergil.

Bennett told the packed high school auditorium that having a charter school is all about have choices.

Those in favor of the plan says this isn't a want, but a need.

"I feel that families, parents, children should have the choice of where they go to school. Maybe one educational institution is better than another and I don't think we should limit them with the school that's in their neighborhood," said Bloomfield resident Lisa Clark.

Bennett would still need state approval from SUNY trustees. That decision should come in the next few months.

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