Grand Concourse Academy Charter School looks to future

The Grand Concourse Academy Charter School prepares to add an eighth-grade when classes start on Monday, September 11, at the St. Helena Hall building it leases on the campus of Monsignor Scanlon High School, 915 Hutchinson River Parkway.
Bob Guiliano/Community News Group

As the Grand Concourse Academy Charter School prepares to add an eighth-grade when classes start on Monday, September 11, its plans for a new building are moving forward.

The school will continue to hold classes in the St. Helena Hall building it leases on the 13-acre campus of Monsignor Scanlon High School, 915 Hutchinson River Parkway.

But with the school’s goal to grow to 800 children in two years, it does not have enough space at its present location, according to Ira Victor, the founding principal.

Victor, recalling how the school originally opened around East 169th Street with 175 children, said it now accommodates 612.

The school’s board of trustees plans to lease a 3-story, 50,000 square-foot building to be built at 625 Bolton Avenue in Clason Point.

“This year is the first year we’re going all the way through 8th grade from kindergarten,” Victor said.

And the school claims it has a waiting list of about 1,800 children because there are no other K-8 charter schools in School District 8, according to Victor.

The options for children in the Bronx are not too great because there are many failing schools, so the charter school applied to the state to become a middle school as well, according to Victor.

“Two years ago we had our first grade 6; last year we expanded to grade 7,” Victor said.

“We’re pretty excited about it, we’re pretty successful,” Victor said.

The plan for Grand Concourse Charter School to move from Scanlan High to a separate building is being made possible through a project called the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Funds.

The project is a viable goal for the Los Angeles-based developer, Turner Impact Capital, which points to lapses in America’s public education system, according to statements on its website, turnerimpact.com.

Although the U.S. spends more on education than any other country in the world, our high school graduation rate ranks 21st among developed countries, according to the website.

Each year, more than 2.5 million students drop out of school in the country — more than 6,800 a day.

Meanwhile, charter schools have been a source of hope for the residents of many underserved communities, claim charter school proponents.

With many charter schools lacking access to long-term school facilities, the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund acts as a ‘bridge developer’ for best-in-class charter schools.

The fund is a joint venture between Turner Impact Capital and tennis legend Andre Agassi, handling site selection, acquisition, design and construction and providing 100 percent of development costs.

Grand Concourse Charter School will be among similar school facilities developed by Turner-Agassi which are then leased to the school, who can purchase the site once it reaches full occupancy.

Turner-Agassi has developed 69 school sites in urban areas across the country, serving more than 35,000 students in such communities as north Philadelphia, Newark, the Bronx, southwest Detroit, south Dallas, north Las Vegas, and many more.

And the fund is positioned to invest an additional $800 million to develop 100 more schools serving another 55,000 students, according to its website.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at bguiliano@cnglocal.com.

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