Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 9:00am

 sed seal                                                                                                 






EMSC Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools in New York State – Issues for Future Policy Discussions


December 9, 2008


Goals 1 and 2






Issues for Discussion


Are there policy issues related to Charter Schools that the Board of Regents wants to examine and discuss in more detail?  Given limited Department staff and fiscal resources, should the Department pursue outside research on charter school issues to help inform the Regents policy discussions?  


Reason(s) for Consideration


Review of Policy


Proposed Handling


This will come before the Regents EMSC Committee for discussion at the December 2008 meeting. 


Procedural History


Each month the Board of Regents takes action on applications and proposed charters for new charter schools as well as revisions and renewals of existing charters.   This month there are 22 charter applications before the Board for action.


Background Information


              The New York Charter Schools Act, (Education Law, Article 56), was enacted in 1998.  This Act allowed for the creation of 100 charter schools in New York State (the number of authorized charter schools was increased to 200 in Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007). The stated purpose of the Article “is to authorize a system of charter schools to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools and school districts.” 


               Since the enactment of the Charter Schools Act, the Board of Regents has considered applications and proposed charters for initial charters, revisions and renewals at almost every meeting of the Board of Regents.  Over time, some recurring policy issues have been raised by members of the Board as well as by Department staff when reviewing charter applications.      The increase in the number of charter schools as authorized by the statute as well as the corresponding workload issues related to the review and approval of applications for charters for those schools, as well as applications for revisions and renewals to those charters, has also prompted some policy-related questions that the Board of Regents may wish to discuss.. 


              In addition, the fact that the law authorizes not only the Board of Regents but also the SUNY Board of Trustees and local school districts as chartering entities has resulted in some differences in approaches to approval and oversight of charter schools as well as interpretation of the requirements of the Charter Schools Act. 


Policy Considerations


              Department staff developed the following suggestions of policy issues that the Board of Regents may wish to examine in more detail in future months.  Discussion of these issues would help to inform and guide the development of SED staff recommendations to the Board of Regents on future charter school initial applications as well as applications for revision and renewal of charters.  Members of the Board of Regents may have other policy issues to suggest in addition to or in place of these:


  • How can we streamline the review process for charter applications while maintaining standards for academic and fiscal soundness?


  • Should we continue to ensure that curricula are aligned with all of the New York State Learning Standards?


  • Does the Board want to handle “material” vs. “non-material” revisions of charters differently and if so, how should the Board define those terms?


  • What is the essential information that must be required in conjunction with an application for a renewal of a charter?


  • Other policy questions suggested by the Board of Regents.


              In some cases, thorough analysis of these and other policy questions that the Regents may want to consider may require research and analysis that, because of resource limitations, Department staff cannot conduct.  The Regents may want to consider pursuing independent research in a few, limited areas.  The Education Finance Research Consortium (EFRC) might be enlisted to conduct this kind of research on behalf of the Regents and the Department. The Board of Regents may want to identify some research topics for staff to discuss with the Consortium in order to determine if the necessary data is available for the specific research and analysis being requested. 




The Regents should identify policy issues for future discussion and also identify issues that could be considered for possible outside research. 


Timetable for Implementation