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Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 10:00am

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem


December 3, 2008


Goals 1 and 2







Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendation concerning the proposed charter for the Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem (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 Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) for the establishment of the following charter school:


  • Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem


Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem (GPCSEH or “the School”) will be located in Community School District (CSD) 4, in Manhattan.  The School will open on August 24, 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 144 students in grades K-1 and grow to serve 390 students in grades K-5 in its fifth year of operation. The School's mission is “to prepare New York City’s girls to graduate from college and succeed in life.  GPCSEH will embody the core values of scholarship, merit, responsibility and sisterhood and use these values to guide their choices.  GPCSEH will graduate scholars who meet or exceed New York State Performance Standards and are active citizens who learn and serve in their communities.”  In order to fulfill that mission, the School intends to develop strong basic educational skills of its students. 


This application is a proposed replication of the Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York, a same-sex school currently located on the Lower East Side and authorized by SUNY. (See Attachment 1) 


There is no comparable same-sex school for boys in the proposed community school district where GPCSEH will be located.  The proposed charter school has not demonstrated that a substantially equal opportunity exists for children of the excluded sex in CSD 4.




              VOTED: That the Board of Regents returns the proposed charter of the Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem to the Trustees of the State University of New York for reconsideration, with the following comments and recommendations:  The proposed charter school has failed to provide evidence that a substantially equal opportunity exists for children of the excluded sex.  This opportunity must exist at another charter school in the same community school district as the School being considered.


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem is effective immediately.




New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School:  Girls Preparatory Charter School of

East Harlem (GPCSEH or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Miriam Raccah


Anticipated Opening Date:  August 24, 2009


District of Location:  New York City Community School District 4, East Harlem


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


Institutional Partner(s):  N/A


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:  144

2010-2011:  210

2011-2012:  273

2012-2013:  333

2013-2014:  390


Proposed Charter Highlights




              The lead applicant, Miriam Raccah is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York.  She is the former Director of Business Affairs and Development for the Harlem Day Charter School (authorized by the SUNY Board of Trustees). She has held various professional positions in development/leadership roles in non-profit/education related agencies. Ms. Raccah holds an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business in Finance and International Business. She has also completed the Middle Management Program at the Institute for Non-Profit Management at Columbia University.


Institutional Partner




Management Partner






  • The School’s educational philosophy is to provide a rigorous back-to-basics education that will prepare students to achieve academic excellence.
  • The School will use a research-based curriculum with a strong focus on a balanced-literacy approach.  It is the same curriculum currently in place at GPCSNY. 
  • The School will use a differentiated-instructional approach in order to teach students with various learning styles.
  • The School states that its teaching framework will assist students to become better readers. It will include interactive read-alouds, shared reading, independent reading, literacy center activities, word and language concept study, and guided reading.
  • Reading instruction will take place throughout the day in all subject areas. 
  • In mathematics, the School’s instruction will include a morning meeting and daily mathematics lessons, as well as one additional mathematics period each week for review and/or extension.  The framework of the curriculum will be Saxon Math which will be supplemented by Exemplars, a problem-solving program which will be implemented twice monthly.
  • The English language arts (ELA) curriculum will center around theme units and will be genre-based and will use a variety of curricular resources such as Breathing Life into Essays; Writing Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions; Launching The Writing Workshop; The Nuts and Bolts of Teaching Writing.
  • The School will utilize the Scott Foresman curriculum for science and social studies.
  • The School will work to prepare students to exceed New York State Learning Standards. 
  • The School intends to administer the New York State exams and other nationally norm-referenced assessments including the Terra Nova Achievement tests in literacy and math for K-5 and the New York State elementary level English, math and science tests to its grade 3-5 students.
  • GPCSEH will assess student progress towards achieving pre-determined goals through several interim assessments such as Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and Rigby PM Ultra Benchmark Kit to evaluate students’ reading progression. These evaluative instruments will be administered four times yearly.
  • The School asserts it will use assessment data to inform teaching and learning such as: 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 educate students with disabilities (SWDs) 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 proposes a 186-day school year from August to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
  • Weekly instruction for K-1 students will be approximately 29 hours while grade 3-5 students will receive approximately 33 instructional hours.  The weekly instructional time difference is attributed to an earlier dismissal for K-2 students who will leave at 3:00 p.m., while students in grades 3-5 will depart at 3:45 p.m.
  • Two teachers will be present in every classroom from kindergarten to second grade.
  • Students mandated to attend after-school or Saturday academic programs will be selected based on teacher observations and assessment results.  Appropriate religious exemptions will be provided for Saturday instruction and any missed instruction will be made up at a later date.
  • To offer focused academic enrichment to students who have been identified as “struggling” in school or to students whose parents desire extra academic preparation, the School will offer a Reading Camp on Saturday mornings in the fall and a Math Camp on Saturdays in the winter.
  • After-school tutoring will be offered for underperforming students. 
  • GPCSEH intends to offer extensive professional development to all teachers throughout the school year with extra time devoted during the summer months. 
  • GPCSEH plans to hold all teaching staff accountable for measurable student achievement outcomes.  Teachers will be required to prepare quarterly progress reports on each student’s performance and to discuss issues with parents/guardians.
  • The School intends to replicate the success of GPCSNY which, in 2007-2008, had 83 percent of its first and second graders meet or exceed grade level standards in math and 79 percent of its students meet or exceed grade level standards in reading on the Terra Nova exams.  Also, in 2007-2008, 80 percent of third graders scored at the proficiency and advanced levels on the New York State English Language Arts exam. In CSD 1 where GPCSNY is located, 87.1 percent of the third graders had performed at the proficiency and advanced levels on the New York State math exam and 61.3 of third graders were proficient or advanced on the ELA exam. (See Attachment 1)




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five in Year One and shall not exceed 25 in Year Five.  The number will be fixed at 12 in Year One.
  • Trustees will be elected to serve three terms for a maximum of five years.  Parent Trustees will be appointed for one-year terms.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be the Executive, Finance, and Fundraising.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees will be of a Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and a Treasurer.




  • GPCSEH will serve 144 students in grades K-1 in the first year of operation and will grow to 390 students in grades K-5 in its fifth year of operation.   
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades K-5 will range between five and 10.
  • The School anticipates a class size ratio of approximately 24:1 students per teacher.
  • The School expects that its student demographics will closely mirror those in CSD 4.  Approximately 62 percent are Hispanic; 31 percent are Black; five percent are Asians; one percent is White and one percent is Other.
  • The School reported that 82 percent of the public school children in CSD 4 participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.
  • GPCSEH will conduct informational sessions regarding enrollment in the community and nearby districts. These sessions will be held at nights and on weekends at locations within the community.
  • GPCSEH will advertise in community newspapers and make enrollment information available via the School’s website.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district, including English Language Learners (ELLs) and Students with Disabilities (SWDs).
  • Additionally, 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 is seeking incubation space in a New York City Department of Education facility which has provided assurances that space will be provided. 
  • The School indicated that it has developed fund-raising plans to raise $430,000, $150,000 and $100,100 in private contributions in years one, two and three respectively.
  • Additionally, the School submitted an application to the Walton Family Foundation for pre-authorization funding and received an initial planning grant for $30,000.  Once the charter is granted, the School will apply for the second half of the grant.
  • The School’s Year One projected start-up revenue will be $425,000 and will grow to $5,282,021 in Year Five. 
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $418,919 and by Year Five of $4,987,116.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $6,082 at the end of Year One and $294,905 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School indicated that it will establish a dissolution fund of $75,000 by its third year.  The School will set aside $25,000 each year for three years to meet this requirement.
  • 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.



Fiscal Impact of

Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem

(New York City CSD 4 – NYC)

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 who will oversee the principal, the director of student and academic affairs, and the director of finance and operations.
  • The work of the principal will be supported by the director of student and family affairs and an office manager, both of whom will be hired in Year One.
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction: six classroom teachers (18 in Year Five); one and a half special education coordinator/teachers (four in Year Five).
  • The special education teacher will be New York State certified in Special Education. 
  • The lead classroom teachers will be supported by three teaching fellows in Year One and will increase to nine by Year Five.
  • Staff will receive one week of professional development in the summer prior to school opening.
  • The decision to rehire a teacher in subsequent years will be contingent upon his/her students’ academic performance outcomes.


Community Support


  • The School provided signatures of parent support to satisfy its target enrollment.   The School collected 525 signatures from parents.
  • The School has received support from the following community leaders, foundations, and community organizations: the East Harlem Tutorial Program; Harlem Parents United; Northside Center for Child Development, Inc.; The Sister Power Organization, Inc.; The Young Women’s Leadership Foundation and the Young Women’s Leadership Network; Youth Action Programs and Homes.


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 4 of the proposed application for the Girls Preparatory Charter School of East Harlem and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • A public hearing was held on July 7, 2008; no comments were made or received.








Attachment 1


2006-2007 and 2007-2008

Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York (GPCSNY)

2007-2008 Academic Performance Data

Grade 3 State ELA and Math Assessments

Percent of GPCSNY Students at Levels 1 – 4




























2006-2007 and 2007-2008

Grade 3 State ELA and Math Assessments

Percent of GPCSNY and District 1 Students at Proficiency Level

















District 1




District 1