New school moving into Tech International space


Amber Charter School is moving from its Washington Heights location to 3120 Corlear Ave. in Kingsbridge this fall. It will take over the middle school space of the Tech International Charter School, which is set to shut down in June.

“We are excited to find a permanent home and in a location we feel that we can continue to be a part of the community,” said Vasthi Acosta, Amber Charter School’s executive director, during Community Board 8’s education committee meeting last week.

This will be the second school for Amber Charter, which has another in East Harlem. Founded in 2000, Amber Charter is the state’s first Latino-led charter school. It operates under the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, a community-based organization, according to the school’s website.

The organization was founded in 1969 to focus on the needs of New York’s Dominican community, assisting 27,000 children and families annually according to its website.

The second school opened at a temporary site in Washington Heights last September, Acosta said. Kingsbridge, however, will be its permanent home.

The Amber Charter team wants to work with elected officials and community members to become an area resource, she said.

“We plan to be there for a long time and set roots,” Acosta said.

Amber Charter’s move was news to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz who had hoped to use the Corlear Avenue property for the Milton Fein School P.S. 7, located just one block away and suffering from overcrowding. He also considered it as potential additional site for Spuyten Duyvil P.S. 24, which lost its annex space.

Dinowitz, who was unaware of Amber Charter’s arrival until contacted by The Press, said the move would not address the overcrowding in surrounding schools.

“Instead of alleviating crowding in the area, we are adding more kids,” the Assemblyman said.

Dinowitz wasn’t alone in plans for the Tech International site. Marvin Shelton, District 10 president of the Community Education Council, also suggested that the education department consider securing property to alleviate overcrowding. While Amber Charter will give priority to students living in District 10, in emailed comments, Shelton said it still “doesn’t adequately address (the) Riverdale/Kingsbridge seat deficiency.”

The SUNY Charter Schools Institute approves the application and renewal of all charter schools, operating separately from the city’s education department.

Amber Charter currently serves 120 students between kindergarten and first grade, and the application process for the upcoming school year closed April 3. Late applicants will be placed on the waiting list, according to the school’s website.

The school plans to add a grade each year until fifth grade, Acosta said, eventually expanding to 400 students. District 10 families will have priority in its admissions process.

When it comes to state testing, 46 percent of students from Amber Charter’s East Harlem campus met New York standards in English during the past school year, according to the city’s education department. In the district, that number’s just 34 percent, while the city is slightly better at 39 percent.

It was a similar story when it came to math, with Amber Charter finding 41 percent of its students meeting state standards, compared to 34 percent in the district and 40 percent citywide.