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Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 11:20pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Proposed Initial Charter for the True North Troy Preparatory Charter School



January 3, 2008


Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendations concerning the proposed charter submitted by the Trustees of the State University of New York for the True North Troy Preparatory Charter School (Troy)?


Reason(s) for Consideration


              Required by State statute, Education Law §2852.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the EMSC Committee in January 2008 for action.  It will then come 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 the following proposed initial charter from the Trustees of the State University of New York which we will be present to you at your January 2008 meeting.


  • True North Troy Preparatory Charter School (Troy).


The applicants plan to locate the True North Troy Preparatory Charter School (the “School”) within the Troy City School District and partner with Uncommon Schools, Inc. The proposed charter school will initially serve 78 students in grade 5 and expand to serve 299 students in grades 5-8 by the fifth year of the initial charter.  Each grade includes three sections of students with 25-26 students in each section.    There will be 194 instructional days during the 2008-09 school year, which starts on August 25, 2008.  The school days are nine hours long on Monday through Thursday; Friday is a shortened six-hour day. 


The School’s curriculum is college-preparatory.  However, it does not address all seven New York State Learning Standards areas.  The School will provide a summer institute for those students who are furthest behind academically when they enroll, offer enrichment classes and tutoring for specific skill sets, administer diagnostic assessments to continually monitor student mastery, offer more time on task, create a school culture that promotes and drives student achievement, focus intentionally on the teaching of study and organizational skills, tutor students individually and in small-groups, and provide a homework structure.  Parents will be able to access a nightly homework hotline. 


Staff recommend that the Board of Regents return the proposed charter with the recommendation that its curricula be updated to address and be aligned with all seven New York State Learning Standards areas. 




VOTED:  That the Board of Regents return the proposed charter of the True North Troy Charter School to the Trustees of the State University of New York for reconsideration, and with the following comments and recommendations:  update the curriculum to address and be aligned with all seven New York State Learning Standards areas. 


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the True North Troy Preparatory Charter School is effective immediately.




New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter School


Summary of Applicant Information



Name of Proposed Charter School: True North Troy Preparatory Charter School


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Douglas Lemov


Anticipated Opening Date: August 25, 2008


District of Location: Troy


Charter Entity:  SUNY


Institutional Partner(s): N/A


Management Partner(s): Uncommon Schools, Inc.


Grades Served:        2008-09: 5

2009-10: 5-6

2010-11: 5-7

2011-12: 5-8

2012-13: 5-8


Projected Enrollment:         2008-09:  78

2009-10: 153

2010-11: 227

2011-12: 299

2012-13: 299



Application Highlights




Douglas Lemov is the Managing Director of True North Public Schools/Uncommon Schools in New York State.  He is the past president of School Performance, Inc., a not-for-profit agency located in Albany, NY, that develops rigorous assessment systems to evaluate charter school performance.   He is the past principal of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Boston.  He is a resident of Delmar, NY.


Institutional Partner(s)


  • None


Management Partner


  • Uncommon Schools, Inc. (“USI”) is a nonprofit charter management organization.  It currently manages the Excellence Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York City and the True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School in Rochester. 
  • USI will provide essential services such as: program design and development; teacher recruitment; training for teachers, school leaders, and other staff; facility acquisition and financing; financial management; fund development; technology, legal counsel; and marketing and advocacy. 




  • The mission of the True North Troy Preparatory Charter School (“the School”) is to prepare all students to enter and succeed in college through effort, achievement and the content of their character.
  • The School will provide a longer school day (approximately 7:40 am – 4: pm) and year (194 days plus 12 additional Saturdays for students who require extra instruction).  Friday is a shortened six-hour day, 7:40 am – 1:40 pm.   Weekly staff development occurs on Friday from 1:50 – 4:40 pm.
  • The School will employ a series of diagnostic assessments aligned to State standards, and coinciding with the School’s own scope and sequence of its curriculum.
  • Students will be provided with relevant and rigorous homework assignments daily.
  • Significant time will be allocated to in-house staff development.  The school year will begin with a three-week in-service training during which teachers will learn and practice key teaching techniques, classroom management systems, and specific methods of instruction, assessment and lesson planning. 
  • Students will take two 75-minute English Language Arts (“ELA”) blocks daily, one focusing on reading comprehension and the other focusing on mechanics and writing.   A total of 13.5 hours of ELA instruction per week will be provided in grade 5.
  • A total of 10.15 hours of mathematics instruction will; be provided each week in grade 5.
  • Enrichment (pull-out tutoring) is provided Monday – Thursday from 3:50 – 4:30 pm.
  • All students will be assigned to an academic advisor with whom they will meet twice a week.  The advisor will monitor the academic success of individual students; serve as a point of first contact for parents and teachers regarding individual students; and guide students in their adjustment to the School’s culture and expectations.
  • All State assessments will be given.   
  • The Terra Nova Assessments will also likely be given.  Post-tests will be administered at the end of the School’s first academic year and again each subsequent year. 
  • The proposed curricula do not address all seven New York State Learning Standards areas.
  • The curricula that are provided are not aligned with the applicable New York State Learning Standards.




  • The proposed initial Board of Trustees (“BOT”) will consist of eight members.
  • The BOT will have no less than seven and no more than 11 members.
  • The School has selected its principal, who will spend at least the first half of the 2007-08 school year in an administrative residency at the True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School.   In addition, he will study the practices of selected outstanding schools.
  • Coaching and oversight will be provided by the School’s Managing Director.
  • Teachers, the special education coordinator, the operations manager, and the dean of students will all report to the principal, who will report to the BOT. 
  • The office manager, school nurse, social worker, and director of high school placement will all report to the operations manager.  




  • The School will not target any specific group of students designated as “at risk,” since the School’s founders believe that their student population will generally have such characteristics. 
  • The School will serve 78 students in grade 5 during the 2008-09 school year, expanding to serve a maximum of 299 students in grade 5-8 by the 4th year of operation.
  • In subsequent years, the School will accept new students only in grade 5.   Should unexpected enrollment fluctuations occur, the School will accept new students into other grades as well.
  • The School expects to get approximately 65 percent of its students from the Troy City School District.
  • Students will be expected to adhere to a dress code.




  • The School’s founders are actively seeking a suitable facility within the Troy City School District boundaries.
  • The School has secured a commitment from the WKBJ Foundation for a grant totaling $250,000.   It also expects to receive a school start-up grant from the Walton Foundation in the amount of $230,000.
  • In its first year of operation, the School projects revenues in the amount of $1,375,582 and expenditures in the amount of $1,338,870, resulting in a surplus of $36,712.



Fiscal Impact of the

True North Troy Preparatory Charter School

On the Troy City School District

2008-09 Through 2012-13

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Impact

























*Assumes a 4.5 percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $88,343,645 in 2007-2008 and a 3 percent annual increase in the average expense per pupil per year.




  • The School will hire teachers in accordance with §2854(3) (a-1) of the Education Law.
  • In 2008-09, the School will hire six classroom teachers, and will expand to 24 classroom teachers by 2011-12, the School’s 4th year of operation. 
  • The school will also hire a special education coordinator, a learning specialist/ELL teacher, a counselor/social worker, a drama teacher/homework center coordinator, a director of high school placement, and a half-time nurse. 


Community Support


  • Letters of support were provided by: Steven Axelrod, Chair, Board of Trustees, Ark Community Charter School; Father Mario Julian of St. Anthony’s of Padua Parish;  Murat Yuskel, Mathematics professor; E. Stewart Jones, attorney; and Brady Jones, technology specialist.
  • The Troy City School District held the required hearing on November 20, 2007.  Oral presentations were made by six persons; five were against the School being funded and the sixth person spoke in support of the School. Comments given in opposition of the School were:


  • “Charter schools will take much needed funds from the school districts.”
  • “School district programs are of the quality that the district should be first and the best choice for parents”
  • “School district programs are more comprehensive that what are offered by the charter schools.”
  • “Public schools are held to grater levels of accountability, and expected to accomplish more by the taxpayers.  Charter schools are often exempt.”


Comments made in support of the School were:


  • “The school district is not doing enough.”
  • “The school district is too slow to respond to students.”
  • “Competition is greater in the school districts.”