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Utica Charter School Draws Interest And Ire

Dave & Margie Hill, flickr

A new charter school coming to Utica is causing buzz within the community.

The Utica Academy of Science is scheduled to open in the fall with 176 students in grades six through nine. Each year another grade will be added, and after five years will total 462 students.

Tolga Hiyali, director of the Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School says the program will focus on science, technology, engineering and math, but also on state core education requirements.

“It’s a small setting and small environment where we can focus on the STEM area,” Hiyali said. “You know, we want to make sure all of our students can be successful and ready for college. [But] it’s common core; we can’t change the curriculum. What happens is we will give that individual attention. That’s the most important part. That’s going to make a difference, I think.”

But officials with the Utica City School District say the Utica Academy of Science is putting further strain on limited resources, especially in one of the state’s poorest districts.

The result has been a tenuous relationship with the Board of Education.

“If you look, the budget line is two percent,” Hiyali said. “You make it sound so big because it’s 10,000 kids. We only have 176 kids, it’s right there. Change is not easy and accepting is also different. But, I look for the parents and the taxpayers, and I think everybody needs an option.”

Applications to the new charter school are currently being accepted, and will open September 1st.

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