Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 8:15am

                                        NYSED Seal                                           





Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Growing Up Green Charter School


December 5, 2008


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision

Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter of the Growing Up Green Charter School (New York City)?

Reason(s) for Consideration

            Required by State statute, Education Law §2852.

Proposed Handling

This question will come before the EMSC Committee in December 2008 for action.  It will then come before the full Board for final action in December 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:

  •  Growing Up Green Charter School


Growing Up Green Charter School (GUGCS or “the School”), with Solar One as its institutional partner, will be located in Community School District 30, in the Long Island City section of Queens.  The School will open in September 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 120 students in grades K – 1 and grow to serve 360 students in grades K – 5 in its fifth year of operation. The School's mission is “to empower students to be conscious, contributing members of their community through a rigorous curriculum and an engaging green culture.  Graduates of GUGCS will be prepared to attend high-performing schools where their interdisciplinary academic foundation, knowledge of sustainability, and strong sense of self sets them apart as leaders of the future.”   Solar One is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire New Yorkers to become environmentally responsible residents.


            VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves and issues the charter of the Growing Up Green Charter School as proposed by the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York, and issues a provisional charter to it for a term of five years, up through and including December 15, 2013.

Reasons 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; (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 Growing Up Green Charter School will be effective immediately.

New York State Education Department

Summary of Proposed Charter

Name of Proposed Charter School:  Growing Up Green Charter School (GUGCS or “the School”)

Address:  TBD

Applicant(s):  Matthew Greenberg

Anticipated Opening Date:  September 1, 2009

District of Location:  New York City Community School District 30, Queens

Charter Entity:  Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York (“the Chancellor”)

Institutional Partner(s):  Solar One

Management Partner(s):  N/A

Grades Served:                   2009-2010:  K – 1

2010-2011:  K – 2

2011-2012:  K – 3

2012-2013:  K – 4

2013-2014:  K – 5

Projected Enrollment:       2009-2010:  120

2010-2011:  180

2011-2012:  240

2012-2013:  300

2013-2014:  360

Proposed Charter Highlights


            The lead applicant, Matthew Greenberg, has been an educator in New York City for over 15 years.  Prior to a career in education, he was a video producer.  Mr. Greenberg began his career in education as a physical education teacher in a small parochial school on the Upper West Side.  He recognized the need for after-school programs, so he designed and implemented sports programs for children enrolled in the school.  The program was eventually opened to children in the larger community.  After five years, Mr. Greenberg became a classroom teacher.  He went on to work at The Bank Street School for Children, followed by Columbia Grammar and Preparatory in New York City.  For the last seven years, Mr. Greenberg has been a classroom teacher at PS 333 – the Manhattan School for Children (MSC), in the lower and middle school levels.  At MSC, he is the Union Chapter Leader, a member of the school hiring committee, a mentor for student teachers, and a curriculum liaison through the school’s partnership with Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project.  Most recently, he received an administrative degree from City College’s Leadership Academy with the intention to become the school leader at GUGCS.   

Institutional Partner

            Solar One is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire New York residents to become environmentally responsible.  Since 2004, Solar One has provided free environmental education classes to over 12,000 New York City students.  In addition, Solar One informs thousands of New Yorkers about energy conservation and renewable energy technologies through its numerous public programs that include art, dance and film festivals, lecture series, teach-ins, city council forums, and other free public events.  Solar One models principles of sustainability by operating out of a prototype solar-powered building that will be made available for students during field visits at its environmental learning center.   

Solar One will provide the School with curriculum development support for teachers during summer professional development sessions and less formally throughout the year during the afternoon “Explore and Discover” block of the day.  The School will enter into a one-year contract with Solar One for these professional development services.  Solar One will provide one day of professional development each month during the academic year for a total of 10 days.  Solar One will also provide direct assistance to teachers on specific modules and lessons to ensure that GUGCS is working successfully toward its mission. 

Management Partner




  • Rooted in a comprehensive vision of healthy development for children, families, and staff, GUGCS has established five standards from which its academic and non-academic expectations and goals are derived:  (1) High academic attainment and improvement, (2) a rigorous and responsive educational program and environment, (3) responsible governance and management, (4) a solid foundation and infrastructure, and, (5) a strong culture fostered by supportive relationships.
  • The School’s curriculum is aligned with all 28 New York State Learning Standards.
  • The School plans to have a morning literacy block, which will follow a standard, progressive model of education.  Reading Reform Foundation will be used for direct phonics instruction; Reading A to Z will be used as the primary reading curriculum; the Teacher’s College Writing Project will be used for writing, along with portfolios of student work that will be showcased at publishing parties throughout the year.
  • The School will use Everyday Math as its primary math curriculum in the morning math block, with supplements from TERC Investigations and the Marilyn Burns Library of mathematics resources.
  • Afternoons at GUGCS will be devoted to “Explore and Discover” (ED) with an “Environment as an Integrated Context for Learning” (EIC) model.  During “ED time” students will work on projects that incorporate skills from all subjects.
  • The EIC model provides an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum, which will provide a rich context for the use and practice of skills learned in traditional lessons. 
  • Learning through the EIC model will use the School’s surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning as guided by teachers and administrators. 
  • GUGCS will employ the following: local and natural community surroundings as context for learning, natural and social systems, community-based investigations, integrated interdisciplinary instruction, service learning, collaborative instruction, a learner-centered constructivist approach, and cooperative and independent learning.
  • GUGCS teachers will help to design the interdisciplinary projects to meet New York State (NYS) social studies standards through a “backward design” strategy.  These projects will also utilize reading, writing, and conceptual math skills.
  • The School will use the Harcourt social studies textbook series for content information and the Pearson curriculum for mapping, graphing, and charting skills development.
  • GUGCS will use Full Options Science System (FOSS) Explorations and Scott Foresman as part of the science curriculum.
  • Science education will be delivered with both traditional textbooks and hands-on experiences with twice-weekly visits to the science lab.
  • General classroom teachers plan to “loop” with their students for two years.  The practice of “looping” will allow teachers to remain with the same classroom cohort of students for two consecutive years.
  • GUGCS will develop systems of internal assessment, in addition to all NYS assessments, to ensure student learning.   The GUGCS six-week assessments will be written by the School’s director of curriculum, director of assessment, and director of special education. 
  • The assessments will be prepared in advance of the school year and will be based on the NYS subject area exit standards for each subject and grade. 
  • The assessments will be used to provide student data to drive instruction.
  • GUGCS will provide corrective academic intervention by using a Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) “push in” model. 
  • In Year One, a “learning specialist” will be hired to lead grade-level teachers in planning and delivering differentiated instruction, including support for English language learners.  Beginning in Year Two, one of the three regular classroom teachers will be designated as a “learning specialist” with these additional responsibilities.
  • The teachers will collaborate and plan closely with the special education director to deliver appropriately differentiated instruction to all students. 
  • No formal after-school or Saturday Program is planned at this time.
  • The School proposes a 180-day school year from September to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 8:05 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
  • GUGCS students will have two and one-half additional school hours per day more than students attending regular New York City public schools.  This equates to more than two additional school days per week over the course of the academic year.



  • The number of trustees shall not be fewer than five (5) and shall not exceed nine (9).
  • Positions on the Board of Trustees will be allocated for one parent representative and one representative from Solar One.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee or contractor. 
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held once per month for ten meetings throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be the Executive, Finance, Educational Accountability, Fundraising and Public Relations, Board Development, Academic and Legal Committees.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.



  • GUGCS will serve 120 students in kindergarten and grade one in Year One, and will grow to serve 360 students in kindergarten through grade five in Year Five.
  • GUGCS will enroll 60 students per grade.
  • The School anticipates a class size of 20 students, but in no event larger than 25 students.  
  • In Year Five GUGCS will employ three teachers per grade, with one teacher from each grade designated as a “learning specialist.”  
  • GUGCS will reach out to the community and nearby districts to make enrollment information available through information sessions that will be held at night and on weekends within the community.
  • The School will advertise in community newspapers; additionally GUGCS will distribute flyers, brochures and applications to elementary schools, community and social service organizations, children service organizations and communities of faith.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district, including English Language Learners (ELL), and Students with Disabilities (SWD).  GUGCS plans to recruit up to 40 percent of its students from these two groups.
  • The School anticipates that students enrolled at GUGCS in kindergarten through grade five will range between the ages of five and 11.
  • In Year One, the School will enroll new students in kindergarten and first grade. In subsequent years, GUGCS will enroll new students for kindergarten through second grade to maintain a total of 60 students per grade.  New students will not be enrolled in the School after grade two.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community:  50 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Black, 14 percent Asian or Other, and 11 percent White.  SWD comprise 10 to 12 percent of the target community, with 20 percent ELL.  Of the public school children living within Community School District (CSD) 30, in the Long Island City area, nearly 100 percent participate in the federal free/reduced price lunch program.



  • GUGCS wishes to find space for the first two years of its charter in a NYCDOE facility.  The amount of one dollar per year will be paid to the NYCDOE for rent in Year One and Year Two.
  • The School is currently seeking to obtain a facility in Long Island City to house the proposed charter school.  GUGCS has contingency plans to renovate any facility it ultimately acquires so that it incorporates a functioning “green” school.  
  • GUGCS plans to reserve from 21 to 23 percent of its budget for facility rental in Years Three through Five.
  • The renovated facility could include, but is not limited to: a greenhouse, renewable energy technologies (solar panels, wind turbine), “eco-friendly” paints, reclaimed and recycled materials.
  • The School anticipates $200,000 from the Federal Charter Schools Program, a $50,000 grant from the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence, and a $30,000 planning grant from the Solidago Foundation in Year One.
  • The School’s Year One anticipated revenue (2009-2010) is $1,551,480 and will grow to $5,445,000 in Year Five.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $73,049 from the start-up and planning budget.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $1,842,581 and by Year Five to equal $4,359,250.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $92,129 at the end of Year One and $217,963 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to set aside $10,000 in Year One for its dissolution fund, with $30,000 by Year Two, and $75,000 by Year Three.
  • GUGCS 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

Growing Up Green Charter School

(New York City – CSD 30 – Queens)

2009-10 through 2013-14

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 lead applicant is the proposed school principal.
  • The work of the principal will be supported by an operations manager, chief financial officer, and an office manager.
  • The School will employ the following staff in Year One: three general classroom teachers per grade and a learning specialist (18 classroom teachers in Year Five, with six as “learning specialists” – or one designated for each grade); a science coordinator (in addition to a math coordinator and community coordinator by Year Five); a director of special education; a director of curriculum; and a part-time director of assessment (part-time in Year One and Year Two, fulltime thereafter).  
  • In Year One, the School will employ two special subject area teachers for music/movement and health.  The School will also employ a full-time social worker in Year One. 
  • By Year Five, GUGCS will have added a math coordinator, foreign language, art, and technology teachers.
  • GUGCS will have a student to teacher ratio of 10:1 in Year One.  In Year Five, the student to teacher ratio will be 12:1.  GUGCS will not allow class sizes to exceed 25 students.
  • The director of special education and an additional “learning specialist” will co-teach with the kindergarten and first grade teachers in Year One.
  • The special education teacher will be NYS certified in Special Education.
  • By Year Five, GUGCS will employ five special subject area teachers, in technology, health/exercise, music/movement, art, and foreign language.



Community Support

  • The School provided 277 signatures of parents with children of appropriate ages to show support and to satisfy the target enrollment. 
  •  GUGCS has received support from the following community leaders, foundations, and community organizations: Helen M. Marshall, Borough of Queens President; Eric N. Gioia, Council member of the City of New York; Christopher J. Collins, Solar One Executive Director; Bishop Mitchell Taylor, East River Development Alliance President and Founder; and Sheila Lewandowski, Chocolate Factory Founder and Managing Director.


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 Community School District 30 of the application for Growing Up Green Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • A public hearing on of the application and proposed Growing Up Green Charter School was held on Tuesday, May 13, 2008; no comments were made or received.