Hempstead LDC eyes $58M charter school bond deal

Growth mode: With educational approvals in hand, the Hempstead-based Academy Charter School is banking on a $58 million bond sale to fund a large-scale expansion effort.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A $58 million bond sale will likely fuel the large-scale expansion of a preeminent Long Island charter school.

The Town of Hempstead Local Development Corp. has granted preliminary approval to the tax-exempt bond sale, which the Academy Charter School will use to build and equip a new vocational/technical high school in Uniondale, create new middle-school facilities in Uniondale and expand its existing Hempstead middle school to accommodate elementary-aged students.

The bond sale – which must still undergo an LDC staff review and public hearing, earn final LDC approvals and be greenlighted by the Hempstead town supervisor – would also allow the Academy Charter School to refinance existing bond issues at lower rates, a short- and long-term financial score ripe for reinvestment in the burgeoning charter school’s growing system.

Altogether, that’s a community-enhancing economic-development effort worthy of LDC support, according to Hempstead Local Development Corp. CEO Frederick Parola, who announced the preliminary approval Monday.

Frederick Parola: Advantageous Academy.

“There is no doubt that this is the kind of project that we take great pride in,” Parola noted. “This planned bond sale will benefit the children of Hempstead, Uniondale and the surrounding communities.”

Preliminary LDC approval was granted in an April 3 teleconference, but the final steps have not yet been scheduled – the coronavirus rules out in-person public hearings for now, and federal restrictions prohibit teleconferenced public hearings.

But the ambitious Academy Charter School already has its planes in the air. Targeting an incoming class of 125 students, the new vo-tech high school – which earned required SUNY Charter Schools Institute approvals in February – aims to open this fall on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, offering training in culinary arts, technology and medical fields.

Academy Charter School officials are also knee-deep in plans for a new, three-story, 18-classroom facility – planned for their Hempstead middle school parking lot at an estimated cost of $11.9 million – and a $16.6 million expansion of their existing Uniondale middle school facility.

And they’re looking to refinance bonds sold in 2011 and 2013 at lower interest rates, while creating a bevy of new jobs: Current employment rolls in Hempstead (61) and Uniondale (51) are projected to grow within three years to 76 and 110, respectively.

Such forecasts are golden to the Hempstead LDC – which provides low-interest, tax-exempt bond financing to schools, not-for-profits, hospitals, charities and other civic entities – and Parola anticipates a smooth landing for the new bond deal, whenever that may be.

“We applaud the success of the Academy’s Hempstead school, the quality of the education the students are receiving and the future leaders it is developing,” the CEO added. “And we look forward to making it possible for the Academy to complete its new projects and reach more students.”