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Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for the Equality Charter School



January 6, 2009



Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendations concerning the proposed charter for the Equality 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:


  •  Equality Charter School


The Equality Charter School (ECS or “the School”) would be located in Community School District (CSD) 12, in the Crotona Park area of the Bronx.  The School will open September 7, 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 132 students in grades six and seven and grow to serve 414 students in grades six through 11 in the fifth year of the initial charter. The School's mission is “to provide a high level of academic rigor in a nurturing learning community that will prepare students to be successful in college.  The School will have high expectations for staff and students, and focus on the integration of goal setting, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Equality men and women will be high school graduates prepared for educated, productive lives.”




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

New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School:  Equality Charter School (ECS or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):   Jo Ann Murphy, Margaret Hoey and Caitlin Franco


Anticipated Opening Date:  September 7, 2009


District of Location:  New York City Community School District 12, The Bronx


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:  6 – 7

2010-2011:  6 – 8

2011-2012:  6 – 9

2012-2013:  6 – 10

2013-2014:  6 – 11


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010:  132

2010-2011:  198

2011-2012:  273

2012-2013:  345

2013-2014:  414


Proposed Charter Highlights




              The lead applicant, Jo Ann Murphy, has 15 years of charter school administrative and fiscal management experience.  Ms. Murphy was the founding principal of Opportunity Charter School in Community School District (CSD 5).  Currently, she is the principal of a Westchester County residential school.  She also served as assistant principal of Southside High School in Elmira, New York, and special education coordinator for the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Public School District’s Extended Year Program, and school psychologist for Albuquerque Public Schools.  Ms. Murphy holds certifications in school psychology, K – 8 teaching, and school district administration.  She holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from Cortland State University; an Education Specialist certificate in School Psychology and a Master’s of Education degree in School Psychology, both from Georgia State University; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Elmira College.


              The co-applicant, Margaret Hoey, is currently the supervisor of special education at New Heights Academy Charter School (CSD 6).  Ms. Hoey was a founding applicant of the Opportunity Charter School (OCS), and served as its special education director.  She was also an eighth grade English language arts (ELA) and social studies teacher at the Graham School in Hastings, New York.  She has a Master of Education degree from Bank Street College and a Master of Science degree in social work from Columbia University.  She also holds certification in special education and school social work, and is working toward her Master of Science degree in School Administration at Bank Street College.  Her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English and another BA in anthropology are from the University of Washington.  Ms. Hoey is currently the Vice-Chair of the Manhattan Educational Service Organization (ESO), a cooperative of charter schools and several local Committees for Special Education, which provides professional development and shares services. 


              The third co-applicant, Caitlin Franco, is currently teaching ELA at Bronx Leadership Academy II (CSD 9), where she also serves as coordinator of the credit recovery program.  Ms. Franco has taught ELA at OCS and wrote the ELA curriculum for grades 9 – 12 for that school.  She has served as a coach for middle school volleyball, football, and basketball.  Ms. Franco holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary English Education from Stony Brook University, and a Masters in Educational Policy from Harvard University.


Institutional Partner




Management Partner






  • The School’s educational philosophy is constructivist and college preparatory. 
  • The educational program is based on Douglas Reeves’ research, 90/90/90 Schools, which studied programs in which 90 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, 90 percent are members of ethnic minority groups, and 90 percent are at or above grade level in reading or another area as measured by district or state assessments.
  • The five common characteristics of these 90/90/90 schools are:  focus on academic achievement, clear curriculum choices, frequent assessment of student progress with multiple opportunities for improvement, and emphasis on non-fiction writing, and collaborative scoring of student work.
  • The School’s educational program includes:  high expectations, positive school culture, data-driven decision-making, inclusive education, with an emphasis on writing, collaboration, parental involvement, development of life action plans, and advisories.
  • The School’s curriculum is aligned with all 28 New York State Learning Standards.
  • New students will be assessed using the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) and the Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) instruments.  Assessments will continue on a quarterly basis.
  • Students who enter two or more years below grade level will receive remedial instruction using the READ 180, which addresses adolescent literacy issues during two 45-minute blocks of time daily.
  • The middle school grades at ECS will offer a double-block math period and will employ Saxon Math and Plato Achieve PSP, along with the use of math manipulatives to remediate basic math skills.
  • Middle school science will use the Full Option Science System (FOSS).
  • All courses at the School will integrate the Basic Writing Skills strategies from the ELA program.
  • The languages other than English curriculum will use Specific Language Training, Advanced Level:  A Systematic Study of Latin and Greek Roots by Orton-Gillingham.
  • The School will conduct periodic internal assessments, in addition to the SRI and DRP, in the core subject areas to assist in differentiating instruction and providing additional support to students.
  • In addition to the mandated state exams, ECS intends to administer norm-referenced assessments such as the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the SAT subject area tests, the ACT, Inc., exam and various Advanced Placement exams.
  • The School will institute advisories with the outcome of supporting each student to develop individualized life action plans.
  • The School will use Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) which is an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the link between research-validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs. 
  • PBIS cards are part of the School’s reward system for students who have met at least one expectation from a list of five.  A card is drawn randomly each day from the School roster to recognize one student as “Student of the Day.”
  • In 2007, in CSD 12, 32.7 percent of eighth graders demonstrated mastery in the NYS ELA exam compared to 50.8 percent of New York City eighth grade students.  Public schools in CSD 12, as a whole, did not make AYP in middle school or high school in either ELA or math.
  • CSD 12 data show that for 2007-2008, the attendance rate was the lowest in the city, at 77 percent.
  • The School is currently negotiating with Phipps Community Development Corporation to provide after-school activities.
  • The School proposes a 180-day school year from September to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than seven (7) and shall not exceed eleven (11). 
  • Trustees will be elected to serve a three year term, and may serve no more than three consecutive terms.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee or contractor. 
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held at least nine times per year in addition to the annual meeting held in the School.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be executive, governance, audit, development, and academic accountability.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.




  • ECS will serve 132 students in grades 6 – 7 in Year One and will grow to 414 students in grades 6 – 11 in its fifth year of instruction.   
  • ECS will enroll 66 students per grade in Year One. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of 22 students in grades 6 – 8.  The student to teacher ratio will be 10:1.
  • ECS will increase enrollment to 75 students in the ninth grade beginning in Year Three.   By Year Five, the average student to teacher ratio will be 13:1.
  • The School will reach out to the community and nearby districts with information sessions held at night and on weekends.
  • ECS 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 CSD, including English language learners (ELL) and students with disabilities (SWD).  The School anticipates 18 percent of the students will be SWD and 17 percent will be ELL.
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades 6 – 11 will range between 11 and 17.
  • Initially, the School will enroll new students in sixth and seventh grades only. In subsequent years, it will also enroll new students for ninth grade to increase the enrollment from 66 to 75 students per year.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of CSD 12, which in 2007-2008 was: 67 percent Hispanic; 30 percent Black; two percent Asian or Other; and one percent White.  Eighty-six percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School wishes to find space for the entire length of its charter in a New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) facility for the amount of one dollar per year.
  • The School is currently seeking space in an under-utilized NYC DOE facility in the Crotona Park area to house the proposed charter school. 
  • The School is considering alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements that include 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 $2,167,296 and will grow to $6,962,512 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates $150,000 in philanthropic contributions each year, beginning in Year Two.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $99,400 from the start-up budget.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $2,067,593, and by Year Five expenses of $6,419,687.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $299,703 at the end of Year One and approximately $542,825 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to set aside $10,000 in Year One for its dissolution fund, with total deposits of $30,000 by Year Two, and total deposits of $70,000 by Year Three.
  • 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 $148,476.
  • 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.






Projected Fiscal Impact of

Equality Charter School

(New York City – CSD 12 – 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 lead applicant is the proposed school principal.
  • In Year One, the work of the principal will be supported by a director of student and community affairs, a charter school business manager, operations manager, a front desk secretary and a pupil personnel secretary.  A director of finance will be hired beginning in Year Three.
  • In addition, the School will employ a both a clinical social worker and guidance counselor full-time, along with a half-time speech and language pathologist beginning in Year One.
  • By Year Five, the School will employ two clinical social workers at the middle school grades and two clinical social workers at the high school level, two guidance counselors, and a full-time speech pathologist.
  • The School will employ the following staff in Year One: 12 classroom teachers (32 by Year Five), and one coordinator of data and instruction who will collaboratively team teach across all grades and subject areas with a teaching assistant.
  • Of the 12 classroom teachers for grades 6 – 7, there will be four full-time ELA teachers, three math teachers, three special subject area teachers, one social studies teacher and one science teacher.
  • The School plans to incorporate one hour per day of professional development at the beginning of each school day. 
  • A significant amount of the daily professional development time will be devoted to grade team meetings with discussions and planning for SWD and ELL students, including cross-curricular differentiation, modifications and accommodations.  These discussions will also address general education students who may need interventions.
  • The special education teachers will be New York State certified in special education.
  • All ECS teachers, both special and general education, will have access to professional development opportunities at the New York Charter Center, Integrated Therapy Associates, the Bronx ESO, and other workshops and conferences.


Community Support


  • The School provided 143 signatures of parent support to satisfy its target enrollment. 
  • The School has received support from the following community leaders: Ruben Diaz, Jr., New York State Assemblyman, 85th New York State Assembly District; Raymond Domanico, Senior Education Advisor, South Bronx Churches; Jane Quinn, Assistant Executive Director, Children’s Aid Society; and Stephen Tosh, Executive Director, Phipps Houses Community Development Corporation.


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 12 of the proposed application for Equality Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • A public hearing on the proposed application for Equality Charter School was held on Wednesday, October 8, 2008; no comments were made or received.