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Da Vinci Founding members: Our outreach to the community

To
the editor:

As
Founding Team Members of the proposed DaVinci Charter School of Hoboken (a free
public school), we are writing to explain our mission and program, and to
clarify some points raised by Dr. Toback’s recent letter to the State Department
of Education.
We believe that:
      
DaVinci will provide a valuable, effective, and desired
additional public school choice for the children of Hoboken;
      
Families should be able to choose the educational approach
and learning environment that they believe best fits their individual child;
      
Diversity of income and ethnicity in schools is both morally
right and academically and socially best for all students; and
      
Project-based, science, technology, engineering, and math
(S.T.E.M.) focused education is a great way for children to learn, be
motivated, and prepare for 21st century jobs.
DaVinci’s mission is to
develop students who love learning and thirst for knowledge; can effectively
solve problems, analyze information, and think critically; and have the skills,
knowledge, and habits to achieve their goals, both individually and as part of
a community
.  We aim to create a school that nurtures every
child and adapts instruction to their individual learning needs, in a climate
of academic rigor and excitement about learning.
We are dedicated to
reaching and serving ALL families in Hoboken. 
Our
enrollment process will be through random lottery, as required by law, and we
strive to make our applicant pool as diverse as possible.  We are 
organizing a series of outreach meetings throughout the city – anyone who is interested in working with us to
set up a meeting is welcome to contact us at the email address below.
DaVinci offers a unique
educational approach.
“There is no doubt that S.T.E.M. programs are appealing for
a variety of reasons,” as Superintendent Toback wrote in his letter.  One of those reasons is the national need to
educate our students with S.T.E.M. concepts to remain competitive in the global
marketplace.  The foundation of success
in S.T.E.M. subjects begins at the elementary level, and DaVinci would be the
only school option in Hoboken with a focus on (and additional class time for) S.T.E.M.,
supported by partnerships with Stevens Institute of Technology and the New York
Hall of Science.
DaVinci’s Project Based
Learning approach engages and motivates students and helps them develop
critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while also mastering basic skills
and important content.
  This model has been
demonstrated to work particularly well with at-risk students, including both
at-risk and special needs students.  Our
S.T.E.M. and project-based components will be offered together with strong
literacy, social studies, and arts instruction.
Families in Hoboken
strongly desire more school choices.
  Different
children are motivated and learn best in different ways – and their parents are
the best equipped to choose the learning environment that fits their
child.  There is such a high demand for
the existing charter schools in Hoboken that they are not a choice for most
families – almost 90% of non-sibling applications for kindergarten this year
were rejected in the lottery, and each charter school has hundreds of children
on its waiting list.  Most of the private
schools in Hoboken cost well over $14,000 a year, and most are
religiously-affiliated.  These are also
not true choices for most families.
We
also would like to clear up a misunderstanding of law in the letter, which
cites a law which caps charter school enrollment at a certain number or percentage
of district enrollment.  This law states
that it expired twelve years ago.
Finally,
we would like to clarify some of the funding issues around charter schools like
DaVinci.  Charter schools receive (and
spend) much less per pupil than district schools.  The Hoboken district spends roughly $22,639 per
pupil (according to the district’s projected 2012-13 budget.)  If DaVinci opens, the district would need to
write a check for about $10,800 per pupil (estimate provided by the State DOE) –
but the district would still receive state aid for the children who attend
charter schools, as well as keeping a portion of locally raised funds – all
without bearing the costs of educating the students.  Recognizing that part of that amount is made
up of costs that don’t easily change with the movement of a few children, the
district would still retain a sizable amount for students who are not actually
being educated in their schools.
More
information on DaVinci’s curriculum, budget, our contact information, our
application, and every other aspect of our school design can be found on our
website: 
davincicharter.wordpress.com 
The
Founding Team Members and supporters believe that DaVinci can provide Hoboken
families an excellent, cost-effective, public school of choice.  We welcome your questions and an ongoing
dialogue. 
We can be reached at davincicharterschool@gmail.com.
Yours
truly,
David
Cappelleri
Mohsen
Hossein
Eric
O’Connor
Brian
Philipson
Rachel
Potts
Jamie
Rice
Stacy
Rosenblum
Laura
Siegel


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