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Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 8:00am

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Flatbush Collegiate Charter School



December 5, 2008



Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendations concerning the proposed charter for the Flatbush Collegiate 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 Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) for the establishment of the following charter school:


  •  Flatbush Collegiate Charter School


Flatbush Collegiate Charter School (FCCS or “the School”) with the Uncommon Schools, Inc. (USI) as its management partner will 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 78 students in grade five and grow to serve 313 students in grades five through nine in the fifth year of the initial charter. The School's mission is “to prepare each student for college.” It is the intent of the School to replicate and model itself on the experience of other urban charter schools, particularly, Boston Collegiate Charter School in Massachusetts and North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey.  USI currently manages nine charter schools in the borough of Brooklyn (see Attachment 1 for performance data).  This application is for one of three proposed USI managed charter schools submitted by SUNY for action by the Board of Regents in December 2008. 




VOTED:  That the Board of Regents returns the proposed charter of the Flatbush Collegiate Charter School to the Trustees of the State University of New York for reconsideration, and with the following comments and recommendations that the School must: (1) provide an assurance that  its curriculum will address and be aligned with all 28  New York State Learning Standards prior to opening for instruction and (2) with respect to the mandatory Saturday instruction, provide a religious exemption for students.


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the Flatbush Collegiate Charter School is effective immediately.







New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School:Flatbush Collegiate Charter School (FCCS or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Brett Peiser


Anticipated Opening Date: August 24, 2009


District of Location: New York City Community School District 17, 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:                      2009-2010: 5

2010-2011: 5-6

2011-2012: 5-7

2012-2013: 5-8

2013-2014: 5-9


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010: 78

2010-2011: 148

2011-2012: 208

2012-2013: 263

2013-2014: 313


Proposed Charter Highlights




              Brett Peiser is the Founder and Managing Director of Collegiate Charter Schools, an Uncommon Schools, Inc. network of middle and high schools in Brooklyn, NY.  In addition, Mr. Peiser founded and was the former Principal and Executive Director of Boston Collegiate Charter School.  He spent several years teaching history at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, NY, where he also founded an after-school community basketball program.  He co-authored Competition in Education, a study of the impact of inter-district school choice in Massachusetts and has directed a public-private partnership helping community colleges with their remedial students.  He has a BA in Political Science and French from Brown University and a Public Policy Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University, where he received a 2001 Rising Star Award. 


Institutional Partner




Management Partner


Uncommon Schools, Inc. (USI) is a not-for-profit organization that is working to close the achievement gap in the Northeast, which manages urban charter schools.  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 the School 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; marketing and advocacy.  Currently, USI manages nine charter schools in Brooklyn (for performance data, see Attachment 1), which are the following (name – date of charter – 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
  • Excellence Charter School for Girls – October 2008 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Leadership Preparatory East New York Charter School – October 2008 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Leadership Preparatory Brownsville Charter School – October 2008 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Leadership Preparatory Flatbush Charter School – October 2008 – Brooklyn, NY


Approved by the Board of Regents:

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


              In addition to this application, the following are the proposed charter schools to partner with USI that have applications for December 2008 (name – location – proposed opening date):

  • Crown Heights Collegiate Charter School – Brooklyn, NY (Proposed opening date: August 23, 2010)
  • East New York Collegiate Charter School – Brooklyn, NY (Proposed opening date: August 23, 2010)




  • The School and USI share “the goal to equip its students with the academic skills and personal characteristics that will prepare them for success in college and beyond.”
  • It is the intent of the School to replicate and model itself on the experience of other urban charter schools, particularly Boston Collegiate (which the School reports has sent 100 percent  of the graduates to college) in Massachusetts, and North Star Academy Charter School in New Jersey. 
  • Key program elements for the School will include the following: 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 proposed curriculum is not aligned to New York State (NYS) standards in the following areas: English, Social Studies, Math, Health, Physical Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Technology, the Arts, Career Development and Occupational Studies, and Languages Other Than English.
  • The School will employ the Blackboard Configuration (BBC): Do Now, Focus, Agenda and Homework.
  • The School will supplement its curriculum with educational programs that replicate the USI model which currently include Reading Mastery, Saxon Math, and Scott Foresman for science.  Social Studies instruction will be based on History Alive!
  • The School will use independent reading, 20-minute daily Read Aloud model based on the Text Talk Program, and 30-minute nightly reading followed by a Reader Response Journal. 
  • In addition to the mandated state exams, the School intends to administer norm-referenced assessments in reading and math such as Terra Nova.
  • The School will also administer assessments to identify student levels and needs.  In addition, there will be internally produced bi-weekly evaluations and reports concerning student progress toward the School’s academic and behavioral standards. 
  • The School asserts it will use assessment data to inform teaching and learning.  The plan includes the following: 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 reports that in 2007 in CSD 17, forty-nine percent of third graders and 34 percent eighth graders demonstrated mastery in the NYS English language arts (ELA) exam, and 78 percent third graders and 31 percent eighth graders demonstrated mastery in the NYS math exam.
  • 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 initiate summer and Saturday instruction for students.  Sessions will be mandatory for any student at-risk of academic failure (any student that is failing any class at any point during the year or in danger of failing a required state exam).  The School has not established religious exemptions for the Saturday program.
  • Several intervention and support strategies are employed including double periods in English and Math, as well as an hour of Science and History for all students.
  • The School proposes a 190-day school year from mid-August to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Classes will conclude at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday to conduct professional development activities.
  • Over the course of the school year, the School’s students will have had 192 additional school hours as compared to students attending New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) public schools. 
  • Students in need of extra help will receive additional instructional time for 60 minutes, two times per week, in an after-school program.  In the third year of operation, the School will increase the time to an additional 90 minutes on Saturdays.




  • The number of trustees shall not be fewer than seven (7) and shall not exceed thirteen (13).
  • Trustees will be elected to serve up to three term(s) for a maximum of three years each term.   Parent Trustees are appointed for one-year terms.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee or contractor. 
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with Uncommon Schools, Inc. or any other single entity except another charter school; and such persons will not serve as chair or treasurer of the Board.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held bi-monthly throughout the year and one month in the summer.
  • The School will have four initial standing committees: Executive, Accountability, Development and Finance.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.




  • The School will serve 78 students in grade five in Year One and will grow to 313 students in grades 5-9 in Year Five.   
  • The School anticipates a class size of 26 students.  There will be three classes per grade and each class will have a lead teacher.  The principal, director of operations and special education coordinator will all teach a class during the school day.  The student to teacher ratio will be 26:1.
  • The School will reach out to the community and nearby districts with information sessions held at night and on weekends.
  • The School 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 communities of faith.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district, including ELL and SWD populations.
  • The School anticipates the students enrolled in grades five through nine will range between the ages of 10 and 17.
  • Initially, the School will enroll new students in grade five only.  In subsequent years, if the attrition rate is greater than five percent, the School will fill vacancies in grades 5-9 in accordance with its admissions policy.
  • The School will be located in a community where over 30 percent of the population lives below poverty level.  Eighty-three percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2005-06 school year was 87 percent Black; 10 percent Hispanic; two percent Asian or Other; and one percent White.  




  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements that include securing unused parochial school space, underutilized NYC DOE space, and partnerships with other school-facilities organizations.  The management partner has established a track record of securing space within NYC DOE facilities.
  • The School has developed comprehensive contingency plans for a facility 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’s Year One revenue is $1,481,672 and will grow to $4,034,894 in Year Five.
  • The School anticipates $120,000 in philanthropic contributions in Year One.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $4,050 from the start-up budget.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $1,451,637 and by Year Five to equal $3,889,909.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $34,084 at the end of Year One and $403,487 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to allocate $25,000 per year towards its dissolution fund, starting in Year One through Year Three, for a total of $75,000.
  • The School will seek the Charter Schools Program (CSP) Planning and Implementation grant in Year One for a $525,000 grant to be disbursed over three years. 
  • The School assures 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

Flatbush Collegiate Charter School

(New York City – CSD 17 – Brooklyn)

2009-10 through 2013-14

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Payment*

Projected Impact



$                  938,917




$               1,861,703




$               2,734,188




$               3,612,743




$               4,493,057


* 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 a principal. 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by a director of operations. 
  • The School will employ the following teaching staff in Year One: seven classroom teachers (20 in Year Five); one part-time special education coordinator (and full-time in Year Five); one part-time special education teacher (and two full-time in Year Five). 
  • The special education coordinator will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • The School will employ a part-time social worker/counselor (and full-time in Year Five).
  • An early student dismissal day (Wednesday) is planned each week to allow over two hours a week of focused professional development.
  • Staff will receive three weeks of professional development in the summer prior to school opening.


Community Support


  • The School provided approximately 172 signatures of parents who support the proposed school. 
  • The School did not provide evidence of support from any CSD 17 community leaders.  
  • The School provided information regarding the waiting lists from other elementary schools managed by USI. Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School, Kings Collegiate Charter School and Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School lists have 104, 67 and 83 names respectively, which are in other community schools districts. 
  • The School has received support from the following foundations and community organizations: the Robin Hood Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Charter School Growth Fund, the Robertson Foundation, and New Schools Venture Fund.


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 Flatbush Collegiate Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on Tuesday, July 15, 2008.  No comments were received.




Attachment 1

Performance on ELA and Math State Assessments by all Charter Schools

in New York State Managed by Uncommon Schools, Inc.*


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











Gr. 4


Gr. 4















Excellence of Bedford Stuyvesant












Williamsburg Collegiate



















*Only includes USI managed schools that have administered the ELA and math state assessments. 


Other charter schools managed by Uncommon Schools, Inc. but have no test data are:

  • Leadership Preparatory CS
  • Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate CS
  • Kings Collegiate CS


USI Schools opening for instruction after September 2009 include:

  • Excellence for Girls CS
  • Leadership Preparatory East New York CS
  • Leadership Preparatory Brownsville CS
  • Leadership Preparatory Flatbush CS