Truxton Charter School group withdraws request for state accreditation

The old Hartnett Elementary School building in Truxton was chosen by local charter school organizers as the location for their planned academy. Organizers secured the winning bid for the building at an auction in October 2015.

The old Hartnett Elementary School building in Truxton was chosen by local charter school organizers as the location for their planned academy. Organizers secured the winning bid for the building at an auction in October 2015.

TRUXTON, N.Y. — In a surprising turn of events, organizers looking to form a charter school in Cortland County have withdrawn their request for accreditation from the New York State Department of Education.

The Truxton Academy Charter School board announced Wednesday they would be pulling their application in light of alleged misinformation and “fear spread by those opposing the charter school,” the group said in a statement.

Those rumors include the loss of 14 teaching jobs at the Homer Central School District should the charter school begin accepting students, according to board member Jeanetta Laudermilk.

“We were surprised by how easily a lot of misinformation sunk their roots into the local area,” Laudermilk said. “The New York State Education Department is excited over our school design. The fear I have is that we would open the doors in fall 2017 and things wouldn’t go well.”

A fiscal impact study conducted by the Homer school district found that the charter school could cost the district more than $3.6 million over a five-year period.

The push for a charter school began shortly after the closure of Hartnett Elementary School in Truxton last year. Homer school board members voted to close the building as a cost-saving measure and to create greater equity in class size across the district.

In October 2015, organizers for the charter school were able to secure the winning bid for the building in an online auction at a purchase price of $51,000.

Organizers have said the charter school would provide “project-based learning opportunities” for students in grades K-5 and help fill the void that the Harnett school has left behind.

The board’s decision to withdraw its application is especially surprising considering the New York State Education Department had reviewed the group’s proposal and found it had met the submission requirements. The New York State Board of Regents planned to review the group’s application at its Nov. 14-15 meeting in Albany.

Laudermilk says the board remains undeterred and plans to hold more public meetings to try and educate residents in the Homer Central School District and will likely re-apply for accreditation in 2017.

“The desire and the need is here [for a charter school],” she said. “We have to work really hard to get the right information out to the community.”

The next public meeting will be held Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Truxton Community Center.