The York Academy Regional Charter School evolved from the efforts of YorkCounts, a community-wide initiative which began in York County in 1996. David Rusk, a leading urban expert, conducted a study of the community with the particular goal of improving York City, the urban heart of the county.

The Rusk Report ultimately yielded four education and four municipal recommendations. York Academy is a direct outgrowth of one of Rusk’s education recommendations. A study took place over 2½ years, which involved 25-30 community volunteers, including the superintendents from the City of York and the four first-ring suburban schools. On November 13, 2009 the organizing committee presented the charter application to three York County school districts: The School District of the City of York, York Suburban School District and Central York School District.

By the end of February of 2010, all of the districts approved the charter application - two of them unanimously.

York Academy is unique in two specific ways:

- The school is the only three-district charter school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

- The school is the only charter school in the Commonwealth which has combined students from school districts with dramatically different racial and socioeconomic profiles. 

Education experts indicate that any school district with a poverty level exceeding 40% will experience difficulty reaching acceptable academic performance levels. Because of the 85% poverty level in The School District of the City of York and the inevitable social problems which go along with a high-poverty population, young middle-class families elect not to establish residency in the city. These educated families will not keep their children in a school system which consistently fails to meet state and federal standards.

BuildingThe absence of a middle-class population has widespread effects, not just on the school district but also on the general civic life of York. A committed business community continues to roll out well-conceived redevelopment efforts, but these efforts will not transform city living in the long term unless there is an alternative to the city schools that will keep young middle-class families in the city.

YorkCounts charged the community to develop an alternate educational opportunity that could help keep young middle-class families in the city and also provide a first-rate education to students whose families lack the financial means to move out of the city. York Academy was designed to provide academic programming that would enrich a large number of city students and honor one of David Rusk’s recommendations by establishing a charter school combining York City and York County students.

BuildingTo make York Academy attractive to both suburban and city parents, the proposal had to be bold, strong and innovative. The group pursued the International Baccalaureate Programme for its internationally-recognized, unique, transdisciplinary approach to education that creates an academically challenging and personally enriching environment. York Academy is the only tri-district, regional charter school recognized as a fully-accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Pennsylvania. The Academy is also one of two schools in the Commonwealth to offer the IB Continuum, which includes the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP). We are also one of nearly 5,000 authorized IB World Schools across the globe.

York Academy opened in August 2011 in the historic pre-Civil War Smyser-Royer building located at 32 W. North Street in the City of York. Currently, students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend this building (Lower School). In August 2018,  the York Academy opened a progressive Upper School, located at 2 Hamilton Avenue, which houses students in grades 7 - 11. In August 2021, we will reach full implementation as a K-12 public charter school and will graduate our first class of seniors.