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Area charter schools expanding to tune of $20M

Some area charter schools are preparing for expansion on their campuses.  WBFO's Mike Desmond reports the charter schools are joining the rush to brick and mortar.

There may not be any great increase in young people in the Buffalo area, but three charter schools are expanding: Tapestry, West Buffalo and Charter School for Applied Technologies. West Buffalo already has an expansion project underway at its West Side home and will be going on two projects at once.

These are complicated financially because Albany does not give charters money for buildings and construction. Instead, the money has to come out of what it can raise independently or borrow and pay back from what city schools pass along.

West Buffalo's Elizabeth Sterns said the school's plan shows confidence in the community.

"We chose to stay where we are because we have become part of the community. We're part of the neighborhood and we like being part of the neighborhood," Sterns said. "We think we've made some improvements and we've been very welcomed there. We've gotten a lot of community support and we've made that our home. While it isn't the perfect building for us, the adaptations that we made have been very worthwhile and it's an easy building to maintain."

The structure was once Lafayette General Hospital. Tapestry Charter School is building a brand new structure for kindergarten through 5th grade, directly across Great Arrow from Olmsted 64, to continue the school's expansion. Executive Director Eric Klapper said a big part of the expansion is a gym.

"That opens up into a larger space for our community meetings that we hold and we cherish in all three of our buildings," Klapper said. "We'll also have a brand new dance studio, cedar room and music room for our super-subjects. We'll have a STEAM Enrichment Lab that's going to be a dedicated lab for our mechanics and robotics and electricity and gravity classes."

Tapestry is also planning some outdoor sports fields and shares an indoor sports building with Nardin.

Applied Technologies is continuing its expansion toward nearly 2,400 students, with an addition of 10 classrooms, offices and a fitness center and the renovation of science classrooms. Executive Director Efrain Martinez said it is another expansion of the high school right on the city line with Buffalo.

"At the high school, we are building 12 regular classrooms and one extra science lab and one extra technology lab, or STEM lab, and then there are a few offices, here and there, and the extra bathrooms needed and so on in support."

Altogether, it is around $20 million in construction for the three schools.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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