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Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                                             







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School



January 6, 2009



Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendation concerning the proposed charter of the Hebrew Language 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 January 2009 for action.  It will then come before the full Board for final action in January 2009.


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. 

The Board must act on a proposed charter submitted by the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or other school district within 90 days of its submission or the proposed charter will be deemed to have been approved and issued by operation of law at the expiration of that period.


If the Board chooses to return the proposed charter to the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or the school district, as the chartering entity, with comments and recommendations, the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or the school district must reconsider the proposed charter, taking into consideration the comments and recommendations of the Board.  The Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or the school district may resubmit the proposed charter to the Board without modification; resubmit the proposed charter with modifications agreed to by the applicant in writing, or abandon the proposed charter.


If the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or the school district resubmits a proposed charter to the Board, the Board may, within 90 days of resubmission, either approve or again return the proposed charter to the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or to the school district for modification.  There is no limit to the number of times the Board can return a resubmitted proposed charter to the Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York or to the school district.


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:


  •  Hebrew Language Academy Charter School


The Hebrew Language Academy Charter School (HLACS or “the School”), would be located in Community School District (CSD) 22, in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn.  The School will open August 24, 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 150 students in grades K-1 and grow to serve 450 students in grades K-5 in the fifth year of the initial charter. The School's mission is to “be a nurturing yet rigorous K-5 dual language school committed to academic excellence as well as to fostering a high degree of Hebrew language proficiency. At HLACS, students will achieve a sophisticated knowledge of English language arts, mathematics, the sciences, and social studies.  This rich and innovative curriculum will be enhanced by art, music, technology and physical education, all of which will incorporate Hebrew language instruction, using a partial immersion proficiency model.   Students at HLACS will develop a strong sense of social and civic responsibility through the integration of community service and service learning into their classroom studies. Our students will graduate with a solid foundation for further academic learning and continuous personal development as ethical citizens in an increasingly global community.” 





              VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves and issues the charter of the Hebrew Language 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 January 12, 2014.


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; and (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 Hebrew Language Academy Charter School is effective immediately.















New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School: Hebrew Language Academy Charter School (HLACS or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Sara Berman and Norman Green


Anticipated Opening Date: August 24, 2009


District of Location: New York City Community School District 22, 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: K-1

2010-2011: K-2

2011-2012: K-3

2012-2013: K-4

2013-2014: K-5


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010: 150

2010-2011: 225

2011-2012: 300

2012-2013: 375

2013-2014: 450


Proposed Charter Highlights




The lead applicant, Sara Berman is a journalist and philanthropist.  For four years, she wrote a weekly column for the New York Sun focusing on raising children in New York City.  Ms. Berman has been a regular guest on CBS Morning News and FOX News, as well as a frequent guest lecturer at local schools and community centers throughout the city.  She was the Features Editor, and the News Editor at the Forward, America’s national Jewish newspaper.  She chaired the board of one of the eight centers of the 92nd Street Y, the Makor/Steinahrdt Center.  Ms. Berman received a BA in history from Columbia University, where she graduated magna cum laude.


The co-applicant, Norman Green is a retired New York City Department of Education principal.  He spent 31 years at Erasmus Hall High School were he was a teacher, assistant principal and principal.  Since retirement, Mr. Green has been involved in educational community service.  He is currently a member and former president for the Madison Jewish Center, Kings Bay YM/YWHA and Jewish Community Council.  Mr. Green received a MA in Education from the New York University (NYU) School of Education, and has advanced credentials from NYU and Nova University. 


Institutional Partner




Management Partner






  • The School will use an instructional model in literacy that provides whole class mini-lessons, shared reading and writing, read-alouds, interactive writing, small group guided reading and writing, and focused independent reading and writing.
  • The school will provide instruction in each subject in the seven general curriculum areas and the proposed curriculum is aligned with all 28 New York State (NYS) learning standards.
  • The School will employ the workshop model to deliver its balanced instruction across all core subject areas to enable students to acquire proficiency in the Hebrew language. 
  • The School will provide instruction in modern Hebrew through a partial immersion model. 
  • Although instruction will be offered in both English and Hebrew throughout the day, one hour of daily instruction will be presented solely in Hebrew language. 
  • The School will supplement its curriculum with educational programs, which includes Soprist West’s Reading Well and Write Well (for grades K-2), Americas Choice (for grades 3-5), Breakthrough to Literacy, and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley enVisionMath, Social Studies and Science. 
  • The School will assess student progress towards achieving pre-determined goals through the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, every six weeks. Additionally, teachers will use curricular unit assessments in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • In addition to the mandated state exams, the School intends to administer norm-referenced assessments in reading and math, using the Early Childhood Literacy Assessment System (ECLAS) for grades K-2, and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) for grades 1-5.
  • The School will administer assessments for language proficiency such as the Early Language Learning Oral Proficiency Assessment (in grades K-1) and the Oral Proficiency Interview (in grades 2-5).  Summative assessments including letter recognition, reading and writing will be administered to students in all grades.
  • The School will use assessment data to inform teaching and learning, which include tracking the mastery of individual students; tracking the progress of classes; assessing teacher effectiveness by instructional topic; and conducting overall evaluations of the proposed curriculum.
  • The School reports that in 2007, sixty-five percent of students in grades 3-5 in Community School District (CSD) 22 met proficiency in the NYS English language arts exam, and 82 percent met proficiency 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 conduct periodic internal assessments in the core subject areas to assist in differentiating instruction and providing additional support to students as needed.
  • The application planning team visited several schools that offer a dual language model to assist in the School’s design.  These schools included: Hellenic Classical Charter School, Family Life Academy Charter School and Renaissance Charter School in New York City; Shuang Wen School (PS 184M) in New York City’s Lower East Side; and the Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School in Florida.
  • The School proposes a 190-day school year from mid-August to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday. 
  • Over the course of the school year, the School’s students will have had 10 additional school days as compared to students attending traditional New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) public schools. 
  • Students in need of extra help will receive an additional 60 minutes of instructional time in an extended day program.




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five (5) and shall not exceed fifteen (15).
  • Trustees will be elected to serve a one-year term for a maximum of three years. 
  • Parents and staff will be invited to join the board committees and to participate in the School’s Parent Organization.   
  • Trustees, officers or employees of any single organization shall hold no more than 40% of total seats comprising the board. 
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held six times throughout the year.
  • The School will have five initial standing committees: Finance, Education, Accountability, Personnel and Executive.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.
  • Charles Capetanakis, Hellenic Classical Charter School board chair, will be a member of the proposed board.  Hellenic Classical Charter School is a Greek dual language school in CSD 15, Brooklyn.  In 2007 – 2008, it served 245 students in grades K-6, where the student population was:  51.2 percent Black; 29.38 percent White; 16.32 percent Hispanic; 1.63 percent Asian or Other; and .81 percent Multi-Racial.




  • The School will serve 150 students in grades K – 1 in Year One and will grow to 450 students in grades K – 5 in Year Five.   
  • The School will enroll 75 students per grade, each year. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of 25 students.  Each class will have a general studies teacher and a Hebrew language teacher.  The student to teacher ratio will be 12.5:1. 
  • 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 CSD 22, in which nine percent of the school age population are English language learners, and 12.5 percent of the population are students with disabilities.
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades K – 5 to range between five and 11.
  • The School expects to serve a diverse group of students with various home languages based on the CSD 22 report that 77 percent of immigrant students come from Russia, Haiti, Jamaica, Pakistan, Mexico, China, Ukraine and Trinidad and Tobago. 
  • Initially, the School will enroll new students in kindergarten and first grade only.  In subsequent years, it will enroll new students for kindergarten only; and for attrition purposes, it will immediately fill spaces with students from its waitlist.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2005 – 2006 was:  47 percent Black; 27 percent White; 13 percent Asian or Other; 12 percent Hispanic; 61 percent participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements that include securing underutilized NYC DOE space or partnerships with other school-facilities organizations. 
  • Viable private facilities have been identified and conservative budgets have been developed to support entering into private lease agreements.
  • The School’s Year One revenue is anticipated at $2,874,335 and will grow to $6,388,051 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates philanthropic contributions and has received letters of commitment from Michael Steinhardt (for $500,000 annually) and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (for $250,000 annually). 
  • The School expects a zero cash balance from the start-up budget.  It budgets $249,758 in expenses and revenues during the start-up phase.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $2,874,335, and by Year Five expenses of $6,388,051.
  • The School anticipates a balanced budget at the end of each year with no surplus or deficit.
  • The School intends to use $75,000 in Year One towards its dissolution fund.
  • The School will seek a 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 $148,650.
  • 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

Hebrew Language Academy Charter School

(New York City – CSD 22 – 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 a principal. 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by a director of operations, director of finance, director of curriculum and instruction, and an administrative assistant during Year One.
  • The School will employ the following staff in Year One: six classroom teachers (nine in Year Five); six Hebrew language teachers (nine in Year Five); one special education coordinator/teacher (two in Year Five); one physical education teacher (two in Year Five); and one music teacher (two in Year Five).
  • The Hebrew language teachers will be appropriately New York State certified and meet all NCLB highly qualified requirements.
  • The Special Education teachers will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • In addition, the School will employ a full-time social worker/counselor.
  • Staff will receive one week of professional development in the summer prior to the School opening.  On-going sessions will be conducted during the school day at various intervals throughout the school year. 
  • Recruitment for the Hebrew language teachers will be through publications such as: Yediot, the American version of the Hebrew language newspaper Yediot Achronot; the Jewish Week; and the Forward.
  • Additionally, the School will send announcements to and network with the 1,200 alumni of KIVUNIM a professional teacher development program.  Announcements will also be sent to the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and to several offices at United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.  
  • The decision to rehire a teacher in subsequent years is dependent upon his/her students’ academic outcomes.


Community Support


  • The School provided 201 signatures of parents with children eligible for enrollment to satisfy its target enrollment. 
  • The School has received support from the following foundations and community organizations: Shorefront – YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Inc.; Kings Bay YM-YWHA; Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations; and UJA Federation of New York.


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 22 of the proposed application for Hebrew Language Academy Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on Monday, June 23, 2008.  Subsequently, seven written comments were received: one supporting the proposed application and six opposing it.  The primary reason cited for opposing the application was that CSD 22 is a high performing community school district that did not need a charter school.  In addition, several comments expressed concern that the charter school would offer religious instruction; appeal to and benefit a narrow population; and occupy needed public school facilities.  A representative of the New York Civil Rights Coalition has also raised questions related to the separation of church and state and the public comment process.