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New Arts-Based Charter School to Open in the LES

By Lisha Arino | November 8, 2015 6:44pm | Updated on November 8, 2015 8:22pm
 City School of the Arts founders Jamie Davidson, Geoffrey Kiorpes and Kate Quarfordt.
City School of the Arts founders Jamie Davidson, Geoffrey Kiorpes and Kate Quarfordt.
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Jamie Davidson

LOWER EAST SIDE — A new charter school with an arts-focused curriculum is planning to open in the Lower East Side next year.

The City School of the Arts, a charter middle school, plans to integrate the arts throughout its program to engage students and help them succeed academically, said co-founder Jamie Davidson, who added that many studies have linked artistic study with increased cognitive skills like numeracy and critical thinking.

“When kids are engaged meaningfully, whether it’s the arts or otherwise, the school feels better and kids do better,” she said.

The curriculum includes three hour-long piano classes weekly for sixth graders, Davidson explained, and dance and visual art for seventh graders. Eighth graders will be able to “major” in an artistic discipline of their choosing, she added.

Each student will also take an elective that they can use to reinforce their mandatory arts classes or explore different instruments, fine art styles and other subjects, like cooking and yoga, Davidson said.

However, students will also have more than three hours of science instruction and more than six hours of math classes each week, according to Davidson and the State University of New York, which approved their charter last month.

The City School of the Arts is expected to open in August 2016 with an inaugural class of 102 sixth graders, although it is still unclear where it will be located.

The school’s charter allows it to open in either District 1, which covers the East Village and Lower East Side, or the larger District 2, which covers much of the west side and the Upper East Side.

Davidson said the school is still finalizing its location, although it does not plan to co-locate with other schools.

“We’re committed to exploring private space and will continue to work with the community to open in a space that best suits the needs of the community,” she said.

Officials from the City School of the Arts are scheduled to make an informational presentation at Community Board 3’s Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee meeting on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Theater for the New City located at 155 First Ave.