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A surge of charters to Rochester? 

A new company created by Joe Klein, chair of Klein Steel and former board member of True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School, is recruiting specialized organizations to open and manage charter schools in Rochester.

By recruiting well-known and tested charter management organizations, E3 Rochester could potentially change the education landscape in the city by adding more schools much quicker than individual charter school creators. But Klein says quality is more important than just adding schools.

E3 is working with PUC Schools, an organization that operates 13 charter schools in Los Angeles, to open a middle school in Rochester, Klein says. And E3 is working with the Noble Network of Charter Schools, operators of the Pritzker College Preparatory High School in Chicago, to open a charter high school, he says.

Applications to the State Education Department for the two new charters have been sent out, Klein says, and the plan is to open the schools in 2014. Each school would probably launch with a single grade and grow out, Klein says. And 100 percent of the students would be chosen by lottery, he says.

Klein says he is an avid supporter of public schools, but that the problems with the Rochester school district are nearly intractable for reasons that are beyond the control of the superintendent.

Opponents of charters argue that the schools siphon money and students away from the host district. And Rochester Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says the district has lost more than 3,000 students to charters.

But advocates say Rochester is a ripe market for more charters because so many city schools are failing and parents want other options.

Eleven charter schools are operating in Rochester, according to the New York State Education Department's website, and more are planned in addition to E3 Rochester's.

By recruiting well-known and tested charter management organizations, E3 Rochester could potentially change the education landscape in the city by adding more schools much quicker than individual charter school creators.

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