Like many other parents, Rosemary and Luis Morales were not happy to find out just days before the scheduled start of the new school year that Pinnacle Charter School would be shut down and reopened as a Buffalo public school.
“It was horrible not knowing what was happening with the kids,” Rosemary Morales said of her two children, Luis Jr., a fourth-grader, and Nashantylee, who will be going into third grade.
But Morales was feeling much better about her children’s academic future after meeting with the new principal Friday.
“I’m feeling good. I feel happy,” she said. “I see a bright future.”
The former Pinnacle Charter School is scheduled to open Monday, but administrators in the Buffalo Public School district still have some loose ends to tie up.
The school will be known as School 115, said new principal Kevin Eberle. Staffing had not been finalized as of Friday afternoon.
Still, teachers and the new principal will be expecting between 480 to 550 students Monday morning. The school day starts at 8:55 a.m. and ends at 3:20 p.m., said Yamilette Williams, the district’s chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction.
Eberle held an unplanned meet-and-greet for parents at the Ash Street school Friday.
“Last Friday I got the word,” Eberle said. “They said ‘Do you want to take this on?’ and I said absolutely.”
Eberle was a former principal at International Preparatory and has worked in Buffalo schools for the past 10 years as a principal or teacher. Eberle also worked in rural and suburban school districts in Western New York, including Ellicottville, West Valley and Lake Shore. Most recently, he had been assigned to a central office job with the Buffalo district.
As of Friday, district officials still had not determined the exact number of teachers who will greet students on Monday.
Pinnacle had employed 56 teachers as a charter school, according to the most recent state information. “We’re filling positions based on typical enrollment count, as we do with all buildings. That staffing is not completely finalized,” Williams said.
One of the biggest issues that district administrators must deal with involves noncertified, Pinnacle Charter School teachers who could not be retained under New York State law, Eberle said.
Rosemary Morales said she thinks about half of the former charter school teachers are returning. Two of them are her childrens’ teachers.
The former charter school will operate as an annex to a district building, which is a technicality, said Board of Education officials.
Pinnacle Charter School was shut down late last month, just days before the scheduled start of the school year, citing poor test scores.
When the former charter school reopens Monday as an annex of a Buffalo Public School, it will be the first time in New York State that a failed charter school will be reopened as a district school in the same location and with the same students, according to an Education Department spokesman.