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Educator proposes charter school

MONTICELLO, NY — Tara-Denise Murray put in an appearance in front of the Sullivan County Legislators on May 10 to ask for their support in her effort to open a charter school in the area. It would be called the Excelsius Prep Innovative Charter (EPIC) and would initially serve Kindergarten through second grade, but would eventually expand to serve students through the fifth grade.

Murray said the focus would be on a rigorous curriculum centered on science, technology, engineering and math. She said that with coming of the casino, and eventually the water park, as well as the YO1 Wellness Center and the Thompson Education Center, local schools will expand; and the area also needs to add a charter school to give parents a choice. She suggested that students would come from the Monticello School District and perhaps also the Fallsburg School District.

She said that some of the funding would “follow the students” who leave a public school to attend the charter school. She said, “Yes it does take away some of the funding, but not all of the funding,”

She said the most important consideration is the wellbeing of the students. She said, “Most important is seeing the kids succeed. And there has been a track record of the population of students not succeeding; it’s in the data. So every time you look at the assessment, and you have the Hispanic population and the African American and the Caucasian children, they all are not meeting the gains that they should.”

She said school itself might be located on Broadway or in Kiamesha Lake. In some cases in New York, charters schools are housed in existing public school facilities. 

She is using the SUNY Charter Schools Institute to further her goal of creating EPIC, and she is about halfway through a 100-page application. She asked the legislature for a letter of support to send to SUNY.

There was a discussion about whether Murray could provide a letter that the legislature might then sign, but the county attorney Cheryl McCausland said, “The legislature might want to think it through because of the other issues that might be involved in supporting a charter school.”

She then asked to speak privately with the legislators directly following the meeting.

A post on the school’s website says, “Classes are slated to begin August 26, 2019 and all scholars must be academically prepared and in full uniform.”

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