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Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 11:20pm

                                              NYSED Seal                                                                 





Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Fahari Academy Charter School


December 5, 2008


Goals 1 and 2




Issue for Decision

Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendations concerning the proposed charter of the Fahari Academy 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:

  • Fahari Academy Charter School


The Fahari Academy Charter School (FACS or “the School”) would be located in Community School District 17, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.  The School will open in August 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 90 students in grade five and grow to serve 424 students in grades five through nine in its fifth year of operation. The School's mission is “to serve grades five through twelve in the Flatbush community by educating, supporting, challenging and training scholars for success in college.” 


            VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves and issues the charter of the Fahari Academy 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 applicant 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 Fahari Academy Charter School is effective immediately.


New York State Education Department

Summary of Proposed Charter

Name of Proposed Charter School: Fahari Academy Charter School (FACS or “the School”)

Address:  TBD

Applicant(s):  Catina Venning

Anticipated Opening Date: August 24, 2009

District of Location: New York City Community School District 17, Brooklyn

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

Institutional Partner(s):  N/A

Management Partner(s):  N/A

Grades Served:                   2009-2010: 5

2010-2011: 5-6

2011-2012: 5-7

2012-2013: 5-8

2013-2014: 5-9

Projected Enrollment:       2009-2010: 90

2010-2011: 180

2011-2012: 261

2012-2013: 334

2013-2014: 424

Proposed Charter Highlights


            Catina Venning is the founder and proposed executive director of the Fahari Academy Charter School.  Ms. Venning is a former New York City teaching fellow and fellow of the Building Excellent Schools program.  Ms. Venning completed a leadership residency at Achievement First Bushwick Charter School in Brooklyn, New York.  The applicant served as a collaborative team teaching counselor at Pace High School and as a special education teacher at the Brooklyn School for Career Development.  Ms. Venning earned a B.S. in Psychology and Political Science at James Madison University, an M.S. in Criminal Justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, an M.S. in Special Education at City University of New York, and a J.D. at Howard University School of Law.  

Institutional Partner


Management Partner




  • The School will provide an educational program balancing explicit skills instruction with critical thinking and problem solving.  The School will employ specific end-of-year benchmarks based on New York State (NYS) Learning Standards.
  • The School will emphasize the values of fahari (Swahili for pride) through the acronym P.R.I.D.E.  The core values will be perseverance, respect, independence, discipline and excellence. 
  • Distinguishing characteristics of the School include high expectations for student achievement, smaller school size, a purposefully structured environment, more time on task, rigorous academics with intensive focus on core subjects, frequent assessments and data-driven instruction, and a comprehensive and intensive support system. 
  • The English language arts (ELA) curriculum will use a variety of curricular resources including Fountas & Pinnell and the Wilson Reading System.
  • Math instruction will be anchored around Saxon Math.  During group and individual pull out sessions, the curriculum will be supplemented with Everyday Math. 
  • Science instruction will be based on the Full Option Science System (FOSS).
  • Social Studies instruction will be based on History Alive!  This curriculum will be supplemented with Junior Great Books. 
  • Beginning with grade nine, the School will offer two years of Latin instruction.
  • The School’s pedagogical approach aims at three principles: remediation, acceleration and college preparation. 
  • In grades five through seven, instructional remediation strategies will include direct instruction, use of graphic organizers, differentiated instruction based on interim assessments and teacher observations, and small group instruction.
  • Beginning in grade eight, instructional acceleration strategies will also include the Socratic Classroom, which is defined as seminar style classes organized to prepare students for Regents examinations. 
  • The School will implement six literacy instruction components: fluency –phonics and decoding; grammar, mechanics and usage; comprehension; vocabulary; writing; and speaking. 
  • The School will provide 90 minutes of mathematics instruction each day.  The specific instructional strategies will include a daily morning math routine, problem-solving, spiral review and fact fluency.
  • The School will administer all required state assessments.
  • FACS intends to administer norm-referenced assessments in reading and math such as the Stanford-10.
  • In core content areas of ELA, math, science and social studies, fACS will issue interim assessments at the mid-point of each trimester.   Reviews will be conducted every six weeks. 
  • The School will also use curriculum-based assessments from Saxon, Wordly Wise, FOSS and Wilson. 
  • The School will educate students with disabilities (SWD) in the least restrictive environment.
  • The School will employ a structured immersion strategy to help English Language Learners (ELL) students achieve proficiency in the English language.  The extended instructional day will offer additional opportunities for ELL students to acquire proficiency. 
  • The School will receive professional development on teaching students with limited English proficiency from the Caribbean Cultural Center and similar entities.    
  • Students will receive over 150 hours of dance, music, visual arts and theater training each year. 
  • The School proposes a 190-day school year from the end of August to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Classes will conclude at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays to conduct professional development activities.
  • Over the course of the school year, FACS students will have had 30 percent additional schooling as compared to students attending traditional New York City public schools.  This equates to nearly 25 additional school days.



  • The number of trustees shall not be fewer than five (5) and shall not exceed fifteen (15).  The initial board will have eight trustees.
  • Trustees will be elected to serve three term(s) for a maximum of three years.  Parent trustees are appointed for one-year terms.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with any other entity as a compensated employee or contractor, nor will more than 40 percent of persons affiliated with another organization serve on the School board of trustees. 
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held at least six times a year during the academic year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be Executive, Academic, Finance, Governance, and Development.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are chairperson, vice chairperson, executive director, clerk, and treasurer.



  • FACS will serve 90 students in grade five in Year One and will grow to 424 students in grades five through nine in Year Five.   
  • The School anticipates a class size of 30 students.  Each skill based class will have two teachers per class (reading and math).  The student to teacher ratio in these classes will be 15:1. 
  • FACS will advertise in community newspapers and make enrollment information available via the School’s website. In addition, the School 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 those with English language learners and students with disabilities.
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades five through nine will range between 10 and 15.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community. The School anticipates that 12 percent of children will require special education services; and that less than five percent will require ELL services. 



  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements that include securing underutilized New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) space, and partnerships with other school-facilities organizations. 
  • Viable private facilities have been identified and realistic, conservative budgets have been developed to support entering into private lease agreements.
  • The School’s Year One revenue is anticipated at $1,648,395 and will grow to $6,590,385 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates $160,000 in philanthropic contributions in Year One, and $200,000 in each subsequent year of the charter.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $132,275 from the start-up budget.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $1,361,495, and by Year Five expenses of $4,042,759.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $208,096 at the end of Year One and approximately $2,700,000 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to reserve $25,000 per year towards its dissolution fund, starting in Year One through Year Three.
  • The School will seek State Stimulus Grant (SSG) and the Charter Schools Program (CSP) Planning and Implementation grant.  The School anticipates receiving a New York City Start-up Grant in the amount of $129,870.
  • 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

Fahari Academy Charter School

(New York City – CSD 17 – Brooklyn)

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 School will be led by an executive director. 
  • The work of the executive director will be supported by a director of curriculum and instruction, a business manager, a social worker, a nurse (.3 FTE), and an administrative assistant, each of whom will be hired in Year One.
  • A director of development will be hired in Year Two.
  • A second director of curriculum and instruction will be hired in Year Five.
  • A college counselor will be hired in Year Five.
  • The School will employ the following staff in Year One: five classroom teachers (adding five to six teachers each year); .5 FTE position for a reading specialist (four in Year Five); one learning support education director (six in Year Five).
  • The special education teacher will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • Staff will receive three weeks of professional development in the summer prior to school opening.


Community Support

  • The School provided 195 signatures from parents with children eligible for enrollment. 
  • The School has received support from the following community leaders, foundations, and community organizations: Yvette D. Clark – 11th Congressional District; Eric Adams – 20th State Senatorial District; Kevin Parker – 21st State Senatorial District; N. Nick Perry – 58th Assembly District; Karim Camara – 43rd Assembly District; Leticia James – 35th City Council District; the Caribbean Literary and Cultural Center; Rising Stars Outreach Center & Theatre; Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day); the Flatbush Development Corporation; and, New Creation Ministries, Inc.


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 17 of the proposed application for Fahari Academy Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on July 15, 2008; no comments were received.