Additional seats for grades 5 through 8 will soon become available at a planned charter middle school campus set for 316 E. 165th Street, with expectations to open for the 2018 school year.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday, November 10.
Family Life Academy Charter Schools will bring to the Bronx its fourth middle school, according to the Rev. Raymond Rivera.
Founded in 2000 by Rev. Rivera, FLACS opened its first school in 2001, and since has inaugurated two others.
The reverend said the newest project is seeing the fulfillment of his vision, inspired during his tenure as pastor for 25 years in High Bridge.
He had the vision to create a charter school when he saw that School District 9 was the lowest performing out of 32 districts in New York City.
Now it’s next to the lowest, replaced by SD 7, where the other two charter schools are located, as the lowest performing district.
“My vision was always to reach those in the system that the (NYC) Department of Education was not educating,” Rev. Rivera said.
Over the last 50 years, there has been an educational crisis in this country, with all children, including those of color, unless they’re in private or parochial schools, just not meeting educational standards, he said.
“My belief was that if you created a school and had the right visionary leadership and teachers that were committed to the children, and competent teachers, that we would give them the training necessary that our kids could perform as well as any kids in the suburbs,” Rev. Rivera said.
“We’ve proven that, now 17 years later, we are among the highest performing (schools),” he said. “We outperform the city, the state.”
The secret of the schools’ success is that they are community-grown charter schools, with decisions made by people closest to the children, combined with visionary leadership and competent teachers, according to the reverend.
Neighborhood schools, organic to the community, with a significant amount of parent involvement, and community control of schools, allow the people closest to the children to make policy and programmatic decisions, he explained.
“In an effort to continue to provide excellent education to our students, the board of trustees of Family Life Academy Charter Schools started discussing options the last few years,” said board chairman/president Miguel Peña.
“It was resolved three years ago that the best way to accommodate our growing student population was to expand into a new facility,” Pena said.
FLACS is a network of community-grown charter schools dedicated to educating the whole child, affirming values, promoting academic excellence, and creating conditions for self-empowerment, according to Pena.
The new FLACS middle school campus will be a 4-story, 56,000-square-foot charter school providing students with various amenities, including a high school-regulation gymnasium and cafeteria on the first floor, and numerous classrooms and offices on the remaining floors.
The school will accommodate approximately 650 students.
As the president and founder of LPAC, the community sponsor of Family Life Academy Charter Schools, “I believe it is important that the community own its education — and we do! That is what makes us a community-grown charter school network,” Rev. Rivera said.