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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 Voice

Charter School



January 4, 2008


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter to establish the Voice Charter School (New York City) which has been submitted by the Chancellor of the city school district of the City 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 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 application is the following:


  •  Voice Charter School (New York City)


              The Voice Charter School (“Voice” or “The School”) would be located in New York City, in the western Queens area (Community School District 24, 29, or 30).  The proposed charter school would initially serve 80 students in grades kindergarten through one and would expand to serve 240 students in grades K-5 in the fifth year of the initial charter. The School's mission is to “create a safe and healthy learning environment that will nurture, motivate, and challenge all of our children to achieve the highest level of academic excellence and to develop into mindful, responsible, contributing participants in their education, their community, and the diverse society in which we live.” Features of the school include daily music instruction, substantial choral music training, and a required two-hour after school program of academic, music and recreational activities.




              VOTED: That the Board of Regents approve and issue the charter of the Voice 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 Voice Charter School is effective immediately.





New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School: Voice Charter School (“Voice” or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Franklin Headley


Anticipated Opening Date: September 2008


District of Location: New York City Community School District 24, 29, or 30


Charter Entity: The Chancellor of the City School District of the City of New York


Institutional Partner(s): None.


Management Partner(s): None.


Grades Served:                      2008-2009: K-1

2009-2010: K-2

2010-2011: K-3

2011-2012: K-4

2012-2013: K-5


Projected Enrollment:         2008-2009: 80

2009-2010: 120

2010-2011: 160

2011-2012: 200

2012-2013: 240


Proposed Charter Highlights




The lead applicant, Franklin Headley, is an Assistant Principal at P.S. 131 in New York City.  He previously worked as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University in the core curriculum and as a fourth grade teacher.  He was trained in school leadership by New Leaders for New Schools. In addition, he attended the KIPP Leadership academy at Stanford University. He teaches education policy at Mercy College. Mr. Headley will serve as the proposed Principal for the School.


Institutional Partner




Management Partner






  • The intent of Voice Charter School is “to create a safe and healthy learning environment that will nurture, motivate, and challenge all of our children to achieve the highest level of academic excellence and to develop into mindful, responsible, contributing participants in their education, their community, and the diverse society in which we live.”
  • The School’s curriculum will address the Regents 28 learning standards and the educational plan addresses the grade-by-grade individual needs of students. 
  • The educational philosophy emphasizes early student acquisition of a “solid, specific, shared core curriculum” addressed especially by use of the Core Knowledge materials and approach.
  • The School will supplement its curriculum with educational programs such as Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Workshop, Everyday Mathematics,       Choral Music Curriculum, Responsive Classroom, and Writers Workshop.
  • Students will have 60 minutes of Math instruction daily (which will include Technology).
  • Music learning is featured with daily 45 minutes of instruction with an additional hour of choral music instruction daily after school beginning in Kindergarten.  This addresses the school goal that “all students become highly literate in reading and writing musical notation and that they reach high levels of musical performance”.
  • The School’s approach to the education of English Language Learners (ELL) will be assessment and support services.  Voice will ask all parents and guardians to complete a Home Language Questionnaire (the same used by public school districts) in the language spoken in their home (if available) upon enrollment.  The school will provide all necessary staff and specialized curricular materials to enable ELL students to achieve proficiency.
  • The School provides a mandatory two hour extended school day that includes instructional activities in athletics, academics, and music.
  • The School will implement standards-driven instruction, performance-based and value-added assessment strategies.  In addition to using the state testing program results, the teachers will analyze state curriculum and develop graded scope and sequences. 
  • Teacher analysis of student performance will inform the next cycle of re-teaching and new presentation.  Teachers will assess student progress toward mastering material in the curricula.
  • Voice Charter School will have a 180 day school year.  .
  • Each school day, students will receive the benefit of 45 additional minutes of instructional time in comparison to students attending other New York City public schools.  Over the course of one year, Voice students will have had 135 additional school hours, which is nearly 20 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 a minimum of seven and a maximum of nine 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.  This includes: the proposed Principal as a member ex officio and the President of the Parent Association, when chosen.
  • The Board will include a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, and such other Officers, if any, as the Board of Trustees may from time to time appoint.  Board members will serve fully-renewable, three-year terms to ensure smooth transition of responsibility. 
  • The Board will meet no less than ten times annually in Year One and will have three standing committees: Executive, Finance, and Education and Accountability.
  • Trustees will have substantial experience in education, music, organizational governance, fundraising, finance, faith-based initiatives and community advocacy. 




  • Voice will serve 80 kindergarten and first grade students in the first year; the School will add one grade per year until the school reaches 240 students in grades K-5 in its fifth year.  If the charter is renewed the school intends to serve students in grades K-8.
  • The recruitment plan will include strategies to advertise the School widely to families from the general community, English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities or special education needs.
  • Voice’s student recruitment plan will reach out to local Head Start programs as well as a variety of public, private, religious community organizations and apartment complexes.




  • The School is seeking a facility with a focus on Western Queens (Community Districts 24, 29 or 30).  The hope is for incubation space for to be available in an existing city Department of Education (DOE) facility.
  • Voice Charter School is currently exploring incubating the school in a temporary space and has begun to explore long-term facility options.
  • The initial year budget anticipates $939,920 in School District revenue with additional amounts of $64,605 from State sources, and $131,688 from federal sources.  Additionally, $3,298,250 is expected from private sources, chiefly $3,000,000 from a planned Capital Campaign.  Other private sources include the contributed services of a Choral Music Director.
  • The School plans an intensive grant and capital fundraising campaign to raise substantial funds to support and augment the School’s program, operations and facilities.
  • Should DOE space be unavailable, the School anticipates alternative option as: a new construction in District 30 or possibly leasing a shared-space from another non-profit organization. 
  • The School anticipates occupying 24,000 square feet by its fifth year.
  • Construction plans will ensure that the new facility will be in compliance with applicable building codes, health and safety laws, and with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
  • 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 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

Charter School

(New York City CSD 24, 29, or 30 – Western Queens)

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.




  • Voice Charter School will recruit candidates through contact with graduate schools, career fairs, advertisements in newspapers and trade magazines, web based job listings, and word-of-mouth.  The applicant also has personal relationships with Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, St. Johns University, Columbia University, and Harvard University.
  • The School will offer a starting salary that exceeds the Department of Education salary table by at least 10% as well as bonuses for extended work hours.
  • The School will select its candidates on their abilities to: write essays, teach demonstration lessons, respond to a series of interviews and submit references.
  • The School will evaluate candidates and existing staff according to standards taken from the New Teacher Project.
  • In Year One, the School will employ a principal, assistant principal, music director, music teacher, secretary, security officer, and a Professional Development coach (7:1 ratio).
  • In Year One, the School will employ five classroom teachers and six substitute teachers.  By Year Five, maintaining the other positions, adding a social worker and librarian, the instructional staff will grow to 15 classroom teachers (10:1 ratio).


Community Support


  • The School collected 92 signatures from parents with school-age children on the Parent Petition of Support. 
  • The following individuals and/or organizations have provided letters of support for Voice: Queens Citizen Organization; Upper Manhattan Together; Iglesia Episcopal – Mision San Juan Bautista; Madeline Lee; Industrial Areas Foundation – Bushwick Leaders High School; Jamaica Muslim Center.


Public Opinion


  • A public hearing was held on October 17, 2007. 
  • The New York City Department of Education sent a letter notifying the public and independent schools in the School’s proposed CSD of the application for Voice Charter School. 
  • No comments were received.