Lavelle School set to go

Staten Island’s first charter school gets OK from state
by Staten Island Advance
Tuesday April 21, 2009, 3:59 PM

Advance file photo
Staten Island’s first charter school is to be named after the late Assemblyman John W. Lavelle.
Many of the teachers have already been hired, the principal has been selected and the location has been discussed.

But today, the founders of Staten Island’s John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School finally got official approval from the state that they are, in fact, opening in September. The vote was originally scheduled for January but was delayed.

“I’m still trying to make sure I’m not dreaming,” said Ken Byalin, one of the founders. “It’s terrific.”

The first charter school on Staten Island, the Lavelle school is open to everyone but will focus on students with emotional challenges. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run, with more flexibility in their operations than traditional public schools. Though there are several dozen charter schools in New York City, this will be the borough’s first.

Now all it needs are some students. A lottery to select the school’s students will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Avenue. About 150 applications have been received for 75 seats in the sixth grade. At the event, the school’s principal, Evelyn Finn, will introduce herself to prospective families.

The school is expected to be housed in the former Sea View Hospital Building in 2011. Until then, the Department of Education has proposed placing it in the Staten Island School of Civic Leadership, or PS/IS 861, a new school opening in Graniteville in September.

Byalin, the school’s founder, said the Sea View Hospital building required $30 million in renovations but that once the project is complete, the Health and Hospitals Corporation will lease the building for $1 a year for 99 years afterward.

The school is to be named after the late Assemblyman John W. Lavelle, the North Shore lawmaker and Staten Island Democratic Party chairman who made education a top priority.

— Reported by Amisha Padnani


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