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Mount Vernon Charter School Under One Roof For First Time

Amani Public Charter School Executive Director Debra Stern gets ready for the school's first day in its new facility in Mount Vernon. Photo Credit: Amani Public Charter School
Mount Vernon students Ella Stern (r) and Marsha Stern put finishing touches on wall mural at Amani Public Charter School, preparing for new facility opening. Photo Credit: Amani Public Charter School

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – For the first time in its four-year history, the staff, administration and students of the Amani Public Charter School in Mount Vernon will be operating out of one building, not multiple locations.

After years of battling with the Mount Vernon Board of Education over delayed financial payments, beginning on Monday, the charter school finally has its first permanent home: the historic Edison Building in the city’s downtown business district.

For two years after being awarded the charter in 2011, Amani officials were embroiled in a legal battle with the city’s public school district over payments that were due to the private institution, which is funded publicly but independently operated.

During the two-year battle, which concluded when a settlement was struck in 2013, the Mount Vernon Board of Education withheld money that left Amani in dire financial straits. Due to the delay in payment, officials were forced to borrow money at times to pay employee salaries while they awaited funds directly from the state.

Following the settlement, Amani received bi-monthly payments of more than $650,000 in per-pupil state and federal aid.

“It’s much better for us to have a steady stream of income and not wait for process forms from the state,” Debra Stern, executive director of Amani said of the settlement. “I asked someone who does a lot of business operations out of state, and he had never heard of one school that this has happened to.”

There will be no class at Amani for seventh- and eighth-grade students on Monday. Fifth-grade orientation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sixth-grade orientation will be conducted from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Edison Building at 60 S. Third St.

The first full day of classes for all students in the new permanent home of the Amani Public Charter School will be on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

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