Friday, May 11, 2018



Educator hopes to start charter school in Sullivan

Murray hopes to have her school open by fall 2019

MONTICELLO – “Providing high quality 21st century education to a culturally diverse population,” reads part of the vision statement for Excelsius Prep Innovative Charter School.  Educator Tara-Denise Murray, with an impressive educational and professional résumé, is planning the venture, and is looking for space somewhere in the Monticello area, including Kiamesha and the Exit 106 area near the casino.

Rather than Montessori or another less structured model, Murray said she is sticking to the basics.

 “The focus of this school will be STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and math.  You already have that in the school district; however, what we do is totally different, because if you look in your packet, there is a strict, rigorous program where it starts in kindergarten through second grade.”

Murray also told Sullivan County legislators the school would be open to all, including at-risk students.

She is also looking for an endorsement letter from the Sullivan County Legislature.  That could take time, said some lawmakers.  One question from them was whether she had reached out to the superintendents in the county’s public school districts.  Murray said she has but so far, no response.

County Attorney Cheryl McCausland said this is not something the legislature can rush in.

“It might be best for them to think it through a little bit on how the legislature would like to present this because of the other issues that might be involved in supporting a charter school,” McCausland said.

In a final pitch, Murray emphasized she is no newcomer to Sullivan County, living here for 11 years, or to the state Education Department.

“I’m rated ‘effective’ and ‘highly effective’ in many areas,” Murray said.  “So, I’m just not the run of the mill person.  I’m a person that is looking for the best interests of the needs of the children.”

Murray hopes to have EPIC open by fall 2019 for first and second grades.  In successive years, third, fourth and fifth grades will be added. 

Tuition is free.  Charter schools receive public school funding but are privately operated. 


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