District administrators fight proposed charter high school in Yonkers

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Yonkers public school administrators are fighting against what could be the city's first charter high school, arguing that it will cost them millions of dollars.

"Parents should have a choice to able to send their children to wherever they want to," says Sobeida Cruz, a co-founder of the Charter School of Educational Excellence in Yonkers.

Kezia Okora and her brother have attended the school since kindergarten. Their mother says she would like her kids to graduate high school from the charter, but it only runs through eighth grade. 

"Not a lot of us can afford private school for our kids, so getting a high school, which is more like a private school, I think it's a great idea," says Cynthia Agyman, the mother.

The charter school, which has 690 current students, sent a request to the state to add a high school for 400 more students.

But Yonkers public school officials say the city just doesn't need any more high schools.

"We have eight high schools in our district," says Edwin Quezada, the superintendent.

He says creating a charter high school would put a hole in the public schools' budget. If the charter high school gains approval, the district will have to fork over $15,000 per student.

"It's a $7 million problem for the citizens of Yonkers," he says.

Charter officials argue that their students score higher than the state average on standardized tests.

"The money follows the child," Cruz says.

Quezada dismisses those statistics, however.

"The concept of comparing 350 students to 11,000 students is simply a falsehood," he says, "We test a lot more students than the charter."

The state Board of Regents will make a decision within the next few months.

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