Paterson's Third Charter School to Open

September 6, 2011

Paterson’s newest charter school will open Wednesday.

The John P. Holland School is named after thePaterson educator who invented the modern submarine. He once taught at St. John’s Cathedral School, which dates to the 1800s and was the original use of the ornate building at 190 Oliver St.

The K-7 school — which plans to add an eighth grade next year — becomes the third public charter school to open in Paterson.

School founder and Principal Christina Scano has been an administrator at all three of those schools. She was a vice principal at the Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology and she was principal at the Community Charter School of Paterson.

Several staff members and student families have followed her to the new charter, which will start out with 176 students and classes of no more than 22 students per grade.

Charter schools are controversial: Critics see them as a drain on public school finances, while advocates see them as incubators for school innovation.

Unlike the two other charters, Scano said, the new school did not get any start-up federal funds from the Race to the Top program. The school finances are tight and classes will begin for the time being without computers, Scano said.

The $1.8 million budget is financed through state per-pupil funds that are funneled through the Patersonschool district and other funding sources. Scano also has taken out a home-equity loan to finance some of the start-up costs.

“I have faith in education,” Scano said during an open house for the new school on Tuesday. “Our charter school was founded by parents and teachers. It was people who just know how to educate.”

Scano also has a personal tie to the building the school occupies. Her mother, Maria, attended St. John’s and graduated from the high school in 1965.

“I’m amazed at how the world comes to a full circle,” Maria Scano said, sitting in what had been the principal’s office even in the 1960s and what is now her daughter’s office.

For some parents like Marcia May, Christina Scano is the reason she enrolled her daughter, N’talliayah Banks, in the fifth grade of the Holland School. They got to know Scano at the Community Charter School and followed her to her next school.

“We love her. She’s for the kids and the parents,” May said while taking a sneak peek at her daughter’s new classroom.

For her part, Banks likes that she’ll have four teachers instead of six.

“It’s very nice here,” she said, doing a little pirouette in the hallway. “It’s nice and sophisticated.”

May also likes the school’s motto, which is as follows:

“I am here to become my very best.

“I am responsible.

“I am respectful.

“I have a ‘Yes, I can’ attitude.

“Quitters never win.

“Winners never quit.

“I choose to be a winner.”