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New school takes a creative approach

A lack of options for elementary education in the area and a concern for their children's futures drove parents to start an arts and science school in Clifton Park.

The Saratoga Academy of Arts and Sciences will open its doors to at least 40, 3-to-5-year-old students in September under the direction of Michael Christensen, who developed a plan for the school while working toward his doctorate at the University of Albany.

Christensen's research on class size and school options led him to consider and evaluate the schools in southern Saratoga County and the Capital District as a whole. In conducting his research, he found that there were no options for parents who desired small class sizes and a focus on creative, critical thinking.

The fact that we have a school choice is positive, said Stella Ritter, secretary of the board and a public school educator. "I am very enthusiastic for the school."

She said she could see the children fitting into Shenendehowa Central Schools when they complete their elementary education.

"If you can give kids a leg up that's wonderful," Ritter said.

His solution to the problem was a new school, which, if Christensen has his way, will expand into a new building before it even opens its doors this fall.

"We are different," Christensen, the president and headmaster of the Saratoga Academy of the Arts and Sciences, said. " We have a niche.

Christensen works with seven board members with backgrounds in everything from law to education. The board is still looking to add a few members, especially individuals with arts and science backgrounds, Christensen said.

While Christensen could not comment on the location of the anticipated building, he said it would allow for three pre-school classes and two kindergarten classes, which would provide room for more than 40 additional students, allowing for enrollment of up to 80 students total.

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