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Meeting of the Board of Regents | July 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 - 11:20pm


sed seal                                                                                                             







Johanna Duncan-Poitier



Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Excellence

Charter School for Girls



July 25, 2008


Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter of the Excellence Charter School for Girls (New York City)?

Reason(s) for Consideration


              Required by the State statute Education Law §2852.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the EMSC Committee in July 2008 for action.  It will then come before the full Board for final action in July 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 received a proposed charter from the Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) for the establishment of the following charter school: 


  •  Excellence Charter School for Girls


The Excellence Charter School for Girls (ECSG or “the School”), with Uncommon Schools, Inc. as its management partner, would be located in New York City, the borough of Brooklyn, within Community School District 16.  The proposed single-sex charter school seeks to provide a substantially-equivalent educational opportunity for girls within the same community school district as the Excellence Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant (a single-sex all boys charter school).  Initially, the School will serve 116 students in grades K and 1; then, expand to serve 319 students in grades K-4 in Year Five. The School’s mission “is to prepare its students to enter, succeed in, and graduate from outstanding college preparatory high schools and colleges.”  Boston Excellence Charter School for Girls and North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey serve as models for the proposed charter.  Uncommon Schools, Inc. currently operates five charter schools in the borough of Brooklyn (see Attachment I).




              VOTED:  That the Board of Regents returns the proposed charter of the Excellence Charter School for Girls to the Trustees of the State University of New York for reconsideration, and with the following comments and recommendations: the School must provide an assurance that its curriculum will address and be aligned with all 28 New York State Learning Standards prior to opening for instruction; provide evidence of adequate community support for and interest in the charter school from parents of students eligible for enrollment in the first year of instruction that would be sufficient to reach its anticipated enrollment; and, with respect to mandatory Saturday instruction, provide a religious exemption for students.


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the Excellence Charter School for Girls is effective immediately.












New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School: Excellence Charter School for Girls (ECSG or “the School”)


Address: TBD


Applicant(s):  John King and Paul Tudor Jones II


Anticipated Opening Date: August 27, 2009


District of Location: New York City Community School District 16, Brooklyn


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


Institutional Partner(s):  N/A


Management Partner(s): Uncommon Schools, Inc.


Grades Served:                       2008-2009: Planning Year

2009-2010: K-1

2010-2011: K-2

                                                        2011-2012: K-3

                                                        2012-2013: K-4                        


Projected Enrollment:         2008-2009: Planning Year

2009-2010: 116

2010-2011: 171

2011-2012: 223

2012-2013: 272


Proposed Charter Highlights




                John B. King, Jr. is employed by Uncommon Schools, Inc. as Managing Director of Excellence and Preparatory Networks.  Mr. King is the Co-Founder and former Co-Director for Curriculum and Instruction of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School.  Prior to co-founding Roxbury Prep, Mr. King taught high school history at City on the Hill Charter School in Boston and Saint John’s School in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Mr. King earned a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, an M.A. in Teaching of Social Studies from Columbia University Teachers College, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.  Mr. King is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education Administration at Columbia University Teachers College.  In addition, Mr. King serves on the faculty and board of directors of New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit organization that trains results-oriented urban principals.

                Paul Tudor Jones II is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the Tudor group of companies, a money management and proprietary trading organization which actively participates in the global debt, equity, currency and commodity markets.  The applicant is a graduate of the University of Virginia.  Mr. Jones is a member of the Commodity Exchange, Inc., the New York Board of Trade, Inc., the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Mr. Jones is the chairperson of the board of trustees for the Excellence Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant (ECSB).  ECSB is the first charter school for boys to be established in New York City. 


Institutional Partner




Management Partner


Uncommon Schools, Inc. (USI) is a not-for-profit organization that manages urban charter schools working to close the achievement gap in the Northeast.  In 2003, USI formalized its mission as a charter management organization with the goal of starting schools in the Northeast that create transformative college preparatory opportunities for low-income children.  Based in New York City, USI develops and manages regional networks of charter schools.  USI will provide Excellence Charter School for Girls with management over the 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; marketing and advocacy.   Currently, USI manages five Charter Schools in Brooklyn (for performance data, see Attachment I), which are the following (name – date – location):


In Effect by Operation of Law:

  • Excellence Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant (formerly known as Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory Charter School for Excellence) – May 2003 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Kings Collegiate Charter School (formerly known as Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School)  – April 2006 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Leadership Preparatory Charter School – November 2005 – Brooklyn, NY


Approved by the Board of Regents:

  • Collegiate Charter School – January 2008 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School (formerly known as City Collegiate Charter School) – April 2005 – Brooklyn, NY


              The management partner is currently seeking to manage the following proposed charter schools:


  • Leadership Preparatory East New York Charter School – July 2008 – Brooklyn, NY (Proposed opening date: August 27, 2009)
  • Leadership Preparatory Brownsville Charter School – July 2008 – Brooklyn, NY (Proposed opening date: August 26, 2010)
  • Leadership Preparatory Flatbush Charter School – July 2008 – Brooklyn, NY (Proposed opening date: August 26, 2010)




  • The School shares, with USI, “the goal of preparing low-income, New York City students for success in college and beyond.”
  • The proposed curriculum submitted is incomplete.  The application does not address all of the required curriculum areas including Health, Physical Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Technology, the Arts, Career Development and Occupational Sciences, and Languages Other Than English.
  • The School’s rationale for establishing an all-girls school is to meet the acute and disproportionate challenges of poverty facing women and children who reside in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.
  • It is the intent of the School to model itself on the experience of other urban charter schools, particularly, Excellence Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts, and North Star Academy Charter School in New Jersey.
  • Key program elements for the School will include expectations of student excellence; recruitment of top teachers; a focus on literacy; sharing “core knowledge” through an emphasis on science and social studies; regular homework assignments; an extended day; character education; parental involvement; maintaining a small school community; and making connections to the community.
  • The School will educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, with the general education population to the extent appropriate and allowed by each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) prepared by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) of the student’s school district of residence and all applicable federal laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Among the students enrolled in Community School District 16, 2.4 percent are classified as English Language Learners.
  • The School intends to have a structured immersion strategy to help achieve proficiency for English Language Learners (ELL) with increased time speaking English during the extended day and extended school year. 
  • In addition to the mandated state exams under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ECSG intends to administer norm-referenced assessments (NRA) in Reading and Math such as the Terra Nova.
  • Kindergarten students will be assessed using the Terra Nova in January and June.  In Year One, the Terra Nova will be issued to grade 1 students in September and June.  In subsequent years, the Terra Nova will only be issued in June for students in grades 1 through 4.
  • The School has developed a plan for using assessment data to inform decisions related to teaching and learning.  The plan includes tracking the mastery of individual students, tracking the progress of classes, assessing teacher effectiveness by instructional topic, and conducting overall evaluations of the School curriculum.
  • The School will provide instruction from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.  Classes will conclude at 1:25 p.m. on Friday for professional development activities.
  • The School will initiate Summer and Saturday instruction for students in Year Three.  Sessions will be mandatory for students at risk of academic failure.  The School has not established religious exemptions for the Saturday program.
  • The School proposes a 187-day school year from August to the end of June.




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than seven (7) and shall not exceed eleven (11).
  • Trustees will be elected to serve a one year term for a maximum of three years.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held bi-monthly throughout the year except for one month during the summer, and other times as the Board determines.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be Governance, Finance and Program.
  • Eighty-three percent of the Board of Trustees for the proposed charter school also serve on the board at the Excellence Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.




  • ECSG will use Year One as a planning year.
  • ECSG proposes to serve 116 students in grades K and 1 in Year Two.  The School expects to enroll 58 students in each grade. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of 29 students.  Each class will have a lead teacher and an assistant teacher.  The student to teacher ratio will be 14.5:1. 
  • ECSG will advertise in community newspapers and make enrollment information available via the School’s website; additionally the School will distribute flyers, brochures and applications to elementary schools, community and social service organizations, children service organizations and churches.
  • The anticipated ages of students enrolled in grades K-4 will range between 4 and 11.
  • ECSG expects to serve a diverse group of students with various home languages based on Community School District 16’s report that 4.2 percent of their students are recent immigrants. 
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target area.  In 2005-2006 82.3 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School is currently seeking a facility to house the proposed charter school.  The management partner has established a track record of securing space within NYCDOE facilities (Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School and Kings Collegiate Charter School). 
  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements that include securing unused parochial school space, underutilized NYCDOE space, and partnerships with other school-facilities organizations such as Civic Builders. 
  • The School has developed comprehensive contingency plans in the event fund-raising targets are not met.  Targets have been set based on conservative estimates of previous campaigns operated by the management partner.
  • The School anticipates $230,000 in philanthropic contributions in Year One.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $2,700 from the start-up budget.
  • The Year Two budget (first year of instruction) anticipates total expenses of $2,028,591 and Year Five to equal $4,317,596.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $52,964 at the end of Year One and a surplus of $487,523 in Year Five.
  • USI states it will advance new school funds to cover any and all shortfalls that the School may have.
  • The School will seek State Stimulus Grant (SSG) and the Charter Schools Program (CSP) Planning and Implementation grant.  The School conservatively assumes no funding from these sources.
  •  The School ensures that it will “perform all programmatic and fiscal audits annually as required by the New York State Charter Schools Act, in accordance with auditing standards…and Government Auditing Standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.
  • 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.


Projected Fiscal Impact of the

Charter School
for Girls

(New York City – CSD 16 – Brooklyn)

2008-2009 through 2012-2013

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 School will be led by Co-Directors. 
  • The work of the Co-Directors will be supported by a Dean of Students and an Office Manager, both of whom will be hired in during the planning year.
  • The School will staff classrooms with one lead teacher and one co-teacher in grades K-2.  In Year Three of the charter, the School will add a single co-teacher each year to each class beginning in grades 3. 
  • In Year Two, the School will provide a Fine Arts teacher and a Special Education teacher.  The School will hire one Special Education teacher and one Reading Intervention teacher per four classes.  The Special Education teacher will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • In addition, the School will employ a social worker/counselor (part-time in Year Two and full-time thereafter).
  • An early student dismissal day (Friday) each week is planned to allow over two hours a week of focused professional development.


Community Support


  • The School has received support from the following community leaders and institutions: Karim Camara – New York State Member of the Assembly, 43rd District; Bob Howitt – Executive Director, WKBJ Foundation; David Saltzman – Executive Director, Robin Hood Foundation; Robert and Suzanne Kerr – Founders and Directors, The Hollyhock Foundation; Dan Katzir – Managing Director, The Broad Foundation; Jennifer Stern – Partner, Charter School Growth Fund; Julian H. Robertson – Founder and Chair, Robertson Foundation; and New Ventures for New Schools.
  • The SUNY Board of Trustees provided information regarding the waiting lists from other schools managed by USI in other community school districts.  Excellence Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant (106); Leadership Preparatory School (225); Kings Collegiate (107); and Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School (374).
  • The School did not provide evidence sufficient to demonstrate that ECSG would operate at full capacity upon opening.  Forms listing parent signatures did not indicate that they were parents of potential students within the grade and age limits to be served by the proposed charter school in its first year.


Public Opinion


  • The New York City Department of Education sent a letter and posted the notice on its website, notifying the public and independent schools in the School’s proposed CSD of the application for Excellence Charter School for Girls and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • A public hearing was held on April 23, 2008.
  • No comments were received.


Attachment I

Performance on ELA and Math State Assessments by all Charter Schools

New York State Managed by Uncommon Schools, Inc.



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











Gr. 4


Gr. 4














Collegiate Charter School










Excellence of Bedford Stuyvesant












Kings Collegiate










Leadership Preparatory










Williamsburg Collegiate