Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 11:20pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the

Achievement First Brownsville Charter School


January 4, 2008


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter of the Achievement First Brownsville Charter School (New York City) as submitted by the Trustees of the State University of New York?

Reason(s) for Consideration


              Required by State statute, Education Law §2852.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the Regents EMSC Committee for action and then before the full Board for final action in January 2008.


Procedural History


              The New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 requires the Board of Regents to review, in accordance with the standards set forth in Education Law §2852(2), proposed charters, renewal charters and revisions to charters and renewal charters that have been approved and submitted by other charter entities.  The Board of Regents may either approve and issue a charter, renewal charter and/or revision as proposed by the charter entity, or return the same to the charter entity for reconsideration with written comments and recommendations. 

Background Information


We have received a proposed charter from the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees for the establishment of the following charter school.  This will be presented to you at your January 2008 meeting.  The application is to establish the:


  •  Achievement First Brownsville Charter School (New York City)


The Achievement First Brownsville Charter School (AFBCS or “the School”), with Achievement First, Inc. as its management partner, would be located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York in Community School District 23.  The proposed charter school would initially serve 84 students in the fifth grade and expand to serve 645 students in grades K-3 and 5-8 in the fifth year. The School’s mission “is to provide students with the academic and character skills they need to gain admission to top college, to succeed in a competitive world, and to serve as the next generation of leaders in their communities.”  Achievement First, Inc. currently operates four charter schools in the borough of Brooklyn.




              VOTED: That the Board of Regents approve and issue the charter of the Achievement First Brownsville Charter School as proposed by the Trustees of the State University of New York, and issue a provisional charter to it for a term of five years, ending on January 14, 2013.


Reason for Recommendation


              (1) The charter school described in the proposed charter meets the requirements set out in Article 56 of the Education Law, and all other applicable laws, rules, and regulations; (2) the applicants can demonstrate the ability to operate the school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner; and (3) approving and issuing the proposed charter is likely to improve student learning and achievement and materially further the purposes set out in subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty of Article 56 of the Education Law; and (4) approving and issuing the proposed charter will have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the proposed charter school. 


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the Achievement First Brownsville Charter School is effective immediately.

New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School: The Achievement First Brownsville Charter School “AFBCS” or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicants):  Kelly Wachowicz


Anticipated Opening Date: August 27, 2008


District of Location: New York City Community School District 23, Brooklyn


Charter Entity:  Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY)


Institutional Partner(s): N/A


Management Partner(s): Achievement First, Inc.


Grades Served:                      2008-2009: 5

2009-2010: 5-6

2010-2011: K-1, 5-7

2011-2012: K-2, 5-8

2012-2013: K-3, 5-8


Projected Enrollment:         2008-2009: 84

2009-2010: 165

2010-2011: 411

2011-2012: 567

2012-2013: 645


Proposed Charter Highlights




The lead applicant, Kelly Wachowicz is Vice President of New Business Initiatives at IStar Financial, Inc. where she develops strategies for launching new businesses with capacity for billion dollar scale.  She previously served as Senior Vice President at both the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Madstone Films, and spent eight years at Goldman Sachs as an Analyst and Associate.  Ms, Wachowicz graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a BA in history (1991) and received an MBA from Harvard University (1998), where she was elected as a Social Enterprise Fellow.



Institutional Partner




Management Partner


              Achievement First, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charter management organization, authorized to conduct business in New York and in Connecticut (founded in 2003).  Achievement First, Inc. was created to bring to scale the student achievement results of the nationally acclaimed Amistad Academy, founded in 1999, in New Haven Connecticut.  Achievement First will manage the School’s start-up process, training, principal and school evaluations, staff recruitment, curriculum development and assessment, marketing, advocacy, budget design, and private fundraising.  Currently, Achievement First manages six charter schools (for performance data from four schools in New York State, see Attachment 1) which are the following (name, date of approval, location):


Amistad Academy – April 1999 – New Haven, CT

Elm City College Preparatory School – April 2004 – New Haven, CT

Achievement First Crown Heights Charter School – March 2005 – Brooklyn, NY

Achievement First East New York Charter School – March 2005 – Brooklyn, NY

Achievement First Endeavor Charter School – January 2006 – Brooklyn, NY

Achievement First Bushwick Charter School – June 2006 – Brooklyn, NY




  • AFBCS’s mission “is to provide students with the academic and character skills they need to gain admission to top colleges, to succeed in a competitive world, and to serve as the next generation of leaders in their communities.”
  • The curriculum is fully aligned with the New York State performance and learning standards.
  • The School will use the Achievement First model, and the Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, and Hardwork (REACH) Curriculum.
  • In addition to Achievement First, Inc.’s own REACH Curriculum, the School will supplement its curriculum with educational programs such as Saxon Mathematics, Waterford Reading Program, Full Option Science System (FOSS), and Core Knowledge.
  • Students will have three hours of reading and writing instruction daily.
  • The School will provide individual tutoring during the school day, after school and on Saturdays.
  • The School’s approach to the education of English Language Learners (ELL) will be structured English language immersion. 
  • In addition to the New York State assessments the School will administer interim standards-based assessments every six weeks in all the core subjects. 
  • The School will use the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), Terra Nova – Mathematics and Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) to refine assessments throughout the year.
  • The School proposes an eleven-month school year (206 days) which ends July 24.  During the general ten-month public school year, AFBCS will have a longer school day, plus after school and Saturday options.
  • The School will use the Achievement First, Inc. model and resources for training staff and development of curriculum teams to further refine its standards. 
  • During the school year, AFBCS will have 26 professional development days.
  • Each school day, students will receive the benefit of 2.2 additional hours of instructional time in comparison to students attending other New York City (NYC) public schools.  Over the course of one year, AFBCS students will have an estimated 315 additional school hours, which is nearly 45 additional school days.




  • The School shall be governed by a Board of Trustees with final authority for policy and operational decisions of the School pursuant to Education Law §2853(1)(f). 
  • The Board of Trustees comprising of no less that seven (7) members (including a parent) and no more than fifteen (15) members, will govern the school and be responsible for ensuring that the school fulfills its mission; is true to its charter; and, remains financially viable. 
  • The Board will have Officers: a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.  
  • The Board will attend the board meetings of other existing Achievement First, Inc. charter schools to better understand their positions and responsibilities. 
  • The Board will meet at least six times annually and each member will serve on one of the three standing committees: Finance & Audit, Education & Accountability, and Charter Management Agreement.
  • The Trustees, collectively, will be required to demonstrate experience in education, law, community, finance, organizational governance, social services, fundraising, and advocacy. 
  • Achievement First, or individuals affiliated with the management partner, will hold seats on the AFBCS Board of Trustees, not to exceed 40% of the charter school’s board.




  • AFBCS will serve 84 fifth grade students in the first year.  Adding grades each year, the School intends to reach 645 students by the fifth year.



No. of Students





5, 6



K,1, 5, 6, 7



K, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8



K, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8


  • The School proposes to create a culture that is college-preparatory and focused on academic rigor and character development. 
  • The recruitment plan will include strategies to advertise the School widely to families who live in CSD 23 and the surrounding zip codes of the school facility.  The School will conduct Open Houses.
  • Additional outreach and recruitment efforts will utilize parent networks, community partners, local media and local television, radio stations, and circulars to spread the word. 
  • The School may also conduct outreach to ELL parents through home visits by an AFBCS official and an interpreter. 
  • The School will replace students from a waiting list up to grade six. 
  • The applicant and the management partner assert difficulty in introducing students to the discipline and rigor of the program as the curriculum advances; therefore, students lost to attrition will not be replaced. 
  • The School will be open to all students and it is specifically designed to meet the needs of at-risk students eligible for enrollment in grades to which the admissions process applies. 




  • The School has requested the use of New York City Department of Education (DOE) incubation space in a NYCDOE facility in CSD 23.  
  • The management partner will identify and lease commercial space if NYCDOE fails to provide incubation space.
  • The School’s long term goal is to occupy its own permanent site. 
  • The School has worked into the budget a contingency fund to provide additional resources in case of exceeded expenses.
  • The potential fiscal impact upon the District is represented below.  Please note that these projections are based upon several assumptions, which may or may not occur: that all existing charter schools will also exist in the next five years and serve the same grade levels as they do now; that the charter schools will be able to meet their projected maximum enrollment; that all students will come from NYC and no other districts; that all students will attend everyday for a 1.0 FTE; that the District’s budget will increase at the projected rate; that the per pupil payment will increase (and not decrease); and that the per pupil payment will increase at the projected rate.













Fiscal Impact of the

First Brownsville Charter School

(New York City CSD 23 – Brooklyn)

2008-09 through 2012-13

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Payment*

Projected Impact





















* Assumes a 3 percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $20.12 billion in 2007-2008; and a 4.5 percent annual increase in the average expense per pupil per year from the 2007-2008 rate of $11,023.




  • AFBCS will recruit candidates through the Achievement First, Inc. Recruitment Office iRecruiter system, Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, the NYC Teaching Fellows, and a variety of colleges.
  • Achievement First, Inc. has implemented a college summer internship program for seniors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) interested in working with any of the Achievement First, Inc.’s schools, which includes AFBCS. 
  • In Year One, the School will employ the grade five staff.  By Year Three it will have the K-3 and 5-8 staff with the full team of 70.5 staff members by Year Five.
  • The School will employ for grade K-4 and 5-8, respectively, a principal, dean of students, an academic dean.  In addition, there will be a director of school operations, and a registrar, with six additional support staff.
  • The School will employ, or contract a properly certified individual, as a Special Education Coordinator. 
  • In Year One, the School will employ five classroom teachers.  By Year Five, the instructional staff will grow to 60 classroom teachers.
  • In addition to the classroom teachers, the administrative staff (which will be appropriately certified or exempt from certification) will teach a mathematics or literacy class one period per day.
  • Classes in grades 5-8 will have a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.  The elementary grades will have a 14:1 ratio. 
  • The School stipulates that although it intends to have four paraprofessional staff in addition to the teachers, the number of additional part-time paraprofessional staff will be based on the special needs of the students. 







Community Support


  • The School collected 113 signatures from parents on the Parent Petition of Interest/Support, of which 58 have eligible school-age children. 
  • The SUNY Board of Trustees has deemed waiting lists for schools managed by the institutional partner to constitute sufficient evidence of community support.  Grade Five wait lists at schools managed by Achievement First, Inc. were reported as follows: Achievement First Crown Heights - 97; Achievement First Endeavor - 132; Achievement First Bushwick - 39).
  • The following individuals and/or organizations have provided letters of support for AFBCS: Brownsville Heritage House, Inc., Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Robin Hood, Community Board 16, Congressman Edward Towns, Dr. John Flateau – Medgar Evers College, and Senator John Sampson.


Public Opinion


  • A public hearing for Achievement First Brownsville Charter School was held on November 25, 2007. 
  • No comments were made and/or received at or after this hearing.


Attachment I









Performance on ELA and Math State Assessments by all Charter Schools

in New York State Managed by Achievement First



Percent of Students Scoring At or Above Level 3 on State Exams

and District of Location








Gr. 4


Gr. 4










Achievement First Endeavor













First Crown Heights







Achievement First East New York







Achievement First Bushwick