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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 Ethical Community Charter School


January 4, 2008


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter of The Ethical Community Charter School as submitted by the Chancellor of the city school district of the city of New York? 


Reason(s) for Consideration


              Required by New York State 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 Chancellor of the city school district of the city of New York for the establishment of the following charter school.  This will be presented to you at your January 2008 meeting.  The proposed charter is for the following: 


  • The Ethical Community Charter School   


             The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS) would be located in one of two New York City Community School Districts (CSD): CSD 7, in the Mott Haven section of The Bronx; or CSD 6, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.  Initially, the School will serve 120 students in grades K-1 and expand to serve 280 students in grades K-5 by the fifth year of the initial charter. The School’s mission is to develop young students who are highly capable academically and who will become ethical and responsible members of their community.  The primary focus of the curriculum is to promote core values of ethical behavior and the development of basic literacy skills.  The School will create an environment where children are engaged actively with the world and with each other through first hand experiences of whatever it is they are studying.  The School has no management partner.




VOTED: That the Board of Regents approve and issue the charter of The Ethical Community Charter School as proposed by the Chancellor of the city school district of the city 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 Ethical Community Charter School is effective immediately.

New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter School


Summary of Applicant Information


Name of Proposed Charter School: The Ethical Community Charter School

(TECCS or “the School”)


Address:  Not determined


Applicant(s):  Peter Sommer


Anticipated Opening Date: August 27, 2008


District of Location: New York City Community School District 6 or 7, Washington Heights or The Bronx


Charter Entity:  Chancellor of the city school district of the city of New York


Institutional Partner(s): N/A


Management Partner(s): N/A


Grades Served:                      2008-09: K-1

2009-10: K-2

2010-11: K-3

2011-12: K-4

2012-13: K-5.


Projected Enrollment:         2008-09: 120

2009-10: 160

2010-11: 200

2011-12: 240

2012-13: 280



Proposed Charter Highlights




Peter Sommer, the lead applicant, will also serve as Head of School.  Mr. Sommer began his 28 year career in education as an elementary school teacher. He has 20 years of experience in school-based and higher education leadership. He has served as the head/principal of several schools, including an elementary school (K-8), NYC middle school (4-8), and a Brooklyn high school (9-12). For five years, he was Educational Director of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at Columbia University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.


Institutional Partner(s):




Management Partner(s):






  • The educational program is designed to develop young students who are highly capable academically and who become ethical and responsible members of their community.
  • The proposed curriculum is aligned with New York State learning standards.
  • The primary focus of the curriculum is to promote core values of ethical behavior and the development of basic literacy skills.
  • TECCS will utilize an interdisciplinary core curriculum, which will organize the curriculum around common themes and skills across disciplines, particularly key elements of literacy.
  • In developing the curriculum, TECCS has relied on state and national models, including: the New York State Core Curriculum; the Core Knowledge Sequence; the Family Academy Reading Program; Big Math for Little Kids; Everyday Mathematics; Investigations in Number, Data, and Space; CHARACTERplus; The Responsive Classroom; resources and materials used at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Manhattan and The Englewood on the Palisades Charter School.
  • A central focus of the school will be ethics, which will be taught both as a separate subject and woven into each subject and activity.
  • The School will connect with families and other entities in the community to help improve student achievement.
  • Teachers will use varied pedagogical strategies to create an individualized approach to instruction.
  • Each student will have an Individual Learning Goals Plan.
  • In addition to the required New York State assessment, the School will utilize the DIBELS, ECLAS-2, LAB-R and NYSESLAT.
  • TECCS will have partner programs with The Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
  • Concerning students with disabilities, TECCS will strive to minimize the impact of the disability while maximizing the students’ access to support services and the general curriculum.
  • A full-time English Language Coordinator/ESL teacher will teach children identified as needing additional support in English via small pull-out groups, team teaching with classroom teachers and assistants.  They will plan with classroom teachers to ensure that classroom programs take into account children’s language needs and the language demands of the curriculum.
  • The School will have reduced class sizes.  There will be 18 – 20 students per class and a full-time assistant in every Kindergarten and First Grade classroom.
  • The School will have an extended day from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
  • The school year will have 190 instructional days.




  • The Board of Trustees will have between seven and fifteen members.
  • The Board of Trustees shall appoint Executive, Finance, School-Family Relations, and Personnel committees.
  • The initial Board of Trustees shall include seven members appointed by the Founders Team, one community representative elected by the Founders Team, and one parent elected by the Founders Team from a list of three candidates proposed by a group of parents who participate in a survey.
  • As an aggregate, the initial Board has experience in education, finance, law, educational administration, social services and business.




  • In its initial year, TECCS will serve 120 students in K-Grade 1.  Each grade will enroll 60 students, and each grade will have three classes of twenty students.    
  • In each subsequent year, there will be only two incoming Kindergarten classes of twenty students each.
  • In its fifth year, TECCS will serve 280 students in grades K-5.
  • In the 2004-2005 school year, 83% of the students in CSD 6 and 86% in CSD 7 were eligible for free lunch programs, compared to 65% citywide.
  • In the 2005-2006 school year, both CSD 6 and 7 failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
  • The United States Census in 2000 found that Washington Heights (CSD 7) is home to the largest immigrant population in New York City and that only 34% of residents in CSD 7 speak only English in the home.
  • Recruitment efforts will include the following: post flyers and place notices in local newspapers, supermarkets, faith based communities, community centers and apartment complexes; conduct open houses at Head Start, early childhood, and after-school programs; visit local organizations, in particular those programs that have Head Start or other Pre-K programs in surrounding neighborhoods; and canvass neighborhoods to reach other interested families.
  • TECCS staff will conduct recruiting campaigns at neighborhood pre-schools that serve special education and English Language Learner (ELL) populations.




  • The School anticipates a New York City start-up grant of $136,920.
  • In its initial school year, TECCS expects a grant of $80,000 from The Ethical Community Charter School Foundation, which has provided a written pledge of support.
  • TECCS anticipates a surplus carryover of $45,223 from the start-up budget.
  • The proposed operating budget for the first year of operation is $1,603,746.
  • TECSS has budgeted for a net surplus of $7,773 in its first year of operation.
  • There are no loans in the proposed budget.
  • Although the School has not yet secured a private facility, it has worked with real estate agents and architects to identify and evaluate potential facilities.
  • The TECCS planning team has identified eight sites, four in Upper Manhattan and four in the South Bronx that meet its space, geographic and budgetary requirements.
  • The potential fiscal impact upon the District(s) is represented below.  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 New York City 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

The Ethical Community Charter School

New York
City CSD 6 (Manhattan) or CSD 7 (Bronx)

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.




  • The first-year administrative staff shall include (1) the Head of School, who will administer the school’s educational program, oversee implementation of the decisions and policies of the Board, and oversee the school’s accountability measures and reporting; (2) a Business Manager, who will have responsibility for financial operations, facilities, and other areas of administration not directly related to the educational program; (3) an Operations Manager, who will perform most of the day-to-day work of maintaining books, preparing checks, vouchers, purchase orders, etc; and (4) an administrative assistant who will perform general secretarial duties.
  • In Year One, the School will employ six teachers and six assistant teachers.   By Year Five, the instructional staff will have increased to include fourteen teachers and nine assistant teachers.


Community Support


  • The School’s planning team has obtained over 25 letters of support.  Included are: Initiatives for Community Development, Inc.; Asociación Tepeyac de New York; Bronx Borough President Carrion; Assemblyman Espaillat; Alianza Dominicana, Inc.; South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; South Bronx Churches; Cultural Renaissance for Economic Revitalization; Nos Quedamos Committee, Inc.; Chamber of Commerce, Washington Heights and Inwood, Inc.; Black Alliance for Educational Options; Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative; Washington Heights and Inwood Kids; Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation; and the Bronx Council On the Arts.
  • The School has collected signatures of parents representing 160 potential enrollees.


Public Opinion


  • A public hearing, hosted by the Community Education Council of Community School District 6, New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), was held on September 20, 2007. 
  • At this meeting, there were ten comments, all in support of the School.