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Charter school opens new home, announces expansions

(l-r) Deirdre Flynn, Mardi Schecter, Charlene Reid, Andra Ehrenkranz, Joyce Frost, Kory Apton, Kim Hartman, students Tatyana Warner and Jeffrey Ortiz, Stacy Lauren and Michael Stern cut the ribbon at the charter school’s grand opening.
Bronx Times
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The Bronx Charter School For Excellence celebrated their new seven-story facility Wednesday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The state-licensed not-for-profit corporation Excellence Community Schools opened its first school for grades K-8 in 2004, and moved into the new building last week.

“Here stands the best symbol of excellence that could be created and squeezed onto a residential block,” said CEO Charlene Reid.

The celebration comes after three years of construction at 1952 Benedict Avenue to facilitate more students. The school currently educates 810 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, up from 500 last year.

“We use to have two classrooms in each grade level and now we have three,” Reid said.

Students at the school have achieved test scores significantly higher than local public schools, scoring 67 percent higher on ELA tests and 22 percent higher on math testing, according to the district.

Not only has the corporation just opened BCSE 2 for grades K-1 at 1804 Holland Avenue, but they are planning to open new schools in other locations in school districts 10, 11 and 12.

Bronx Excellence 3 will open next fall and Bronx Excellence 4 the following fall and then Bronx Excellence 5, Reid said. The corporation opened a second charter school in Stanford, CT last year.

Reid said the locations of the three planned schools was not known yet, but that the third school location would likely be finalized in the next three months. She said the schools could be new buildings or be established in existing structures.

“It depends on what would be the best deal and basically the need… we’re going where the highest need is,” Reid said.

Founding board member Joyce Frost, a partner at the derivatives advisory firm Riverside Risk Advisors LLC and a former senior executive at Morgan Stanley and Chase, said board members worked for years to raise capital for the new building.

The agency issued $25 million in tax-exempt bonds onto the market, but the demand for the bonds exceeded $250 million, Frost said.

“We had so much investment demand for the bonds, we blew it out of the water,” Frost said. “We issued the lowest yielding tax exempt bonds in the charter school market ever.”

Board chair Stacey Lauren said she was grateful to be able to provide the community with a new educational opportunity and thanked board members and staff for their commitment in getting the building completed.

“This project wasn’t without its challenges,” said Lauren, a former marketing executive for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. “But with your perseverance, commitment and creativity, we were able to complete this building. The smiles on the first day of school reinforced how important it was for everyone to work hard to open the building and to fill the classrooms with superb academics.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:06 pm, July 9, 2018
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