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School Board to Hear Thoughts on Charter School at 'The Ranch'

Timothy Hill Children's Ranch is proposing a charter school for grades 7-12. A public hearing is scheduled at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting to hear thoughts on the proposal.

On Tuesday night, the Riverhead Central School District Board of Education will hold a public hearing for a charter school application from 

The school is proposed to teach boys - and possibly at a later point, girls - in grades 7 through 12, starting off with an enrollment of 55 in the 2013-2014 school year, and eventually climbing to over 200.

Timothy Hill Children's Ranch is a Christian camp located on Middle Road that has been open since 1980, housing teenage boys who come from troubled families. The charter school, according to THCR's executive director, would complement "the ranch" by keeping many of those youths in an environment they are familiar with - a smaller one, surrounded by many of the people with whom they live.

Over the last couple of years, said Executive Director Thud Hill, the organization has been teaching some of its guests at the ranch in a homeschool-style setting, and found it has worked favorably.

"Without the distractions of some of the things in a much larger setting," said Hill at a recent town board work session, "Behaviorally and academically we've found our kids do better. So that was the main catalyst, initially - trying to better serve our kids."

Hill added that cuts in state aid in recent years to non-profits has affected THCR as well, and expanding to add a charter school could help offset some of those.

He added that the charter school, should it gain approval, may rent out space initially before opening for the 2013 school year.

The school's application passed an initial round of cuts from the State Department of Education in January, making a list of 20 from about 30 applicants. It was the only charter school on Long Island to make it through, and Hill said that should the school gain final approval - they should know by June, he said - it would likely be the only charter high school on Long Island.

The cost of schooling charter school students is funded through the students' school district where he or she resides, similar to how Timothy Hill receives funding for its operating expenses for its guests. Hill said that when kids are sent to Timothy Hill from a family court, the originating school district pays to send the child to Riverhead Central School District.

Tuesday night's school board meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. A .pdf of the charter school proposal is attached.

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