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State’s first all-girls charter school opens

ALBANY — New York’s first all-girls charter high school opened Monday in Albany with two full grades.

The $10 million Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls has 150 students in ninth and 10th grades and 83 students on a waiting list. The school plans to add 11th and 12th grades over the next two years.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at an unrelated event Monday that innovative charter schools are an important part of reforming education. He was in Albany as part of a tour to congratulate states that won federal “Race to the Top” funding, a competition established by the Obama administration to improve schools.

The state amended its application after losing badly in the first round of the competition in January. The Legislature and Gov. David A. Paterson increased the number of potential charter schools, made student performance part of teacher evaluations, and agreed to create uniform state curricula.

Duncan said greatly expanding the number of charter schools had a major impact on New York’s winning nearly $700 million in the latest round.

Charter schools are public schools that are privately operated. The Albany Leadership school is operated by an independent board, but with the help of the Brighter Choice Foundation, which has opened several charter schools.