Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2009
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Charter Schools: Initial Application to Establish the Evergreen Charter School and Issuance of the Initial Charter for the Evergreen Charter School
January 9, 2009
Goals 1 and 2
Issues for Decision
Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendation concerning the application to establish the Evergreen Charter School (Hempstead)?
Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendation concerning the issuance of the initial charter for the Evergreen Charter School (Hempstead)?
Reason(s) for Consideration
Required by State statute, Education Law §2852.
These questions will come before the EMSC Committee in January 2009 for action. They will then come before the full Board for final action in January 2009.
The New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 requires the Board of Regents (“Board”) to review applications for both new charter schools and the renewal of existing charter schools that are submitted to it in accordance with the standards set forth in subdivision two of New York State Education Law §2852. After review, the Board may either (a) approve an application and issue a charter or a renewal charter for a term of up to five years, or (b) deny the application.
In addition, New York Education Law §2852(7) provides that revisions of charter school charters shall be made only upon approval of the charter entity and the Board of Regents in accordance with the provisions of the law applicable to the issuance of charters themselves. With respect to charter schools directly chartered by the Board, it may either approve a proposed revision or deny it. If the BOR denies the initial application, no provisional charter will be granted. The applicant may submit a new application at a later date.
We received an application to establish a new charter school. That application is for the:
- Evergreen Charter School
The Evergreen Charter School (“the School”) would be located within the Hempstead Union Free School District. The School will open in September 2009. Initially, the School will serve 100 students in kindergarten through first grade and grow to serve 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grade by its fifth year of operation.
The Hempstead UFSD is in its 5th year of accountability status as a District in Need of Improvement for ELA. This identification is based on the combined performance of all district students rather than the performance of students at any one school. Additionally, Fulton Elementary School is a newly identified School in Need of Improvement.
The mission of the Evergreen Charter School is to nurture the intellectual, physical, and social development of all students, many of whom are expected to be from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The School will ensure that students of varied cultural and social backgrounds and different ability levels achieve their academic potential while developing a positive sense of self-worth. The School will foster individual growth and development through the implementation of a challenging and comprehensive educational program that emphasizes mastery of a quality K-5 core curriculum that is aligned to the New York State Learning Standards and based on New York curricula guidelines. Additionally, instruction in a second language, i.e. Spanish, and integration of content regarding Hispanic history and culture will be important parts of the School’s curriculum. The School will feature enriched arts and physical education programs, and it will foster healthy life choices within a child-centered school environment that places a premium on environmental education and conservation of resources. The School will use a balanced instructional approach and employ a workshop delivery model to provide its students with a stronger foundation in ELA which will prepare them for success as they move through the grades. Given the District’s performance in ELA, these students will be better prepared to meet the academic and life challenges at the middle school level and beyond.
VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves the application for the Evergreen Charter School.
VOTED: That the Board of Regents issues a charter and provisional charter to the Evergreen Charter School for a term of five years, up through and including January 12, 2014.
Reasons for Recommendations
(1) The charter school described in the application meets the requirements set out in Article 56 of the Education Law, and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations; (2) the applicant has demonstrated the ability to operate the school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner; (3) granting the application 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) granting the application will have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the proposed charter school.
Timetable for Implementation
The Regents action for the Evergreen Charter School is effective immediately.
New York State Education Department
Summary of Proposed Charter
Summary of Applicant Information
Name of Proposed Charter School: Evergreen Charter School
Address: 605 Peninsula Boulevard, Hempstead, New York, 11550
Applicant(s): Sarah Brewster, Ariel Sotelo, Gil Bernardino
Anticipated Opening Date: September 8, 2009
District of Location: Hempstead Union Free School District
Charter Entity: Board of Regents
Institutional Partner(s): N/A
Management Partner(s): N/A
Grades Served: 2009-10: K-1
Projected Enrollment: 2009-10: 100
Dr. Sarah Brewster is one of three applicants. She is the supervisor of Circulo de la Hispanidad’s (“CDLH”) domestic violence services, a position she has held for over eight years. She oversees such services as clinical interventions and educational outreach.
Mr. Gil Bernardino founded CDLH in 1980, which is a community-based organization dedicated to serving the needs of Hispanic immigrants. Mr. Bernardino was born in Spain, and worked as a teacher there for many years, immigrating to the United States in 1974. He has since obtained his master’s degree in bilingual education.
Mr. Ariel Sotelo was born in Argentina and worked there as an attorney. He is currently the coordinator of CDLH’s housing program. He is a resident of the Hempstead Union Free School District.
- The proposed School’s curriculum is aligned with all New York State Learning Standards and the applicant has provided an assurance that the School’s curriculum shall, at all times, be aligned with all of the New York State Learning Standards in effect at any time.
- The primary focus of the School will be to teach children the necessary skills and content knowledge that will benefit them throughout their lives.
- The School will also develop students’ proficiency with a language other than English, by starting Spanish language instruction in kindergarten.
- The School will incorporate a focus on environmental awareness and conservation in its science, social studies, arts, health, physical education, and technology education.
- As the Hempstead UFSD is in its 5th year of accountability status as a District in Need of Improvement for ELA, the School will focus its attention on ELA by using a balanced approach to teach literacy.
- Teaching will include direct focused instruction in decoding and phonemic awareness. There will be a two-hour ELA block that incorporates an hour each of Reader’s Workshop and Writer’s Workshop.
- The School’s ELA program will include Soprist West Read Well and Write Well in grades K-2, and in grades 3-5 America’s Choice Framework; leveled books, and core literature. Breakthrough to Literacy will be used for academic intervention.
- The Benchmark Assessment System will be used every six weeks to obtain student diagnostic information. Teachers will develop a plan of action for each student following each such six-week assessment.
- The School will use the Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley enVisionMATH (2009) text for grades K-5. It supports the workshop model used by the School as well as differentiated instruction in a heterogeneous classroom setting.
- The School will also use the Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley series for its science and social studies programs.
- The School will have a designated Visual Arts teacher.
- The School will not have more than 25 students in any academic class.
- Each kindergarten will have a full-time teacher and a full-time teaching assistant.
- The School will annually administer all applicable New York State assessments, as well as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and Fox in a Box (the latter of which is published and supported by CTB McGraw-Hill).
- The Hempstead UFSD is in its 5th year of accountability status as a District in Need of Improvement for ELA. This identification is based on the combined performance of all district students rather than the performance of students at any one school. Additionally, Fulton Elementary School is a newly identified School in Need of Improvement.
- The School’s initial Board of Trustees (“BOT”) will be comprised of ten persons, including two of the three applicants, Sarah Brewster and Gil Bernardino. One person will be a non-voting member.
- Trustees will serve a three-year term, except for the initial board whose terms will be staggered.
- New BOT members will be elected by a majority vote of the Trustees then in office.
- The BOT will promote parent involvement in their children’s education, school activities, and school governance. This includes the establishment of a parent organization as the primary means by which parents may play a role in the governance of the School.
- Some concerns were raised regarding the finding required by §2852(2)(d) of the Education Law, as amended by Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007, which requires a charter entity, prior to approving an application for a charter school, to find that “in a school district where the total enrollment of resident students attending charter schools in the base year is greater than five percent of the total public school enrollment of the school district in the base year (i) granting the application would have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the proposed charter school or (ii) the school district in which the charter school will be located consents to such application”.
- Based on data from the Hempstead UFSD (“District”), the total enrollment of resident students attending charter schools in the base year is less than 5 percent of the total public school enrollment of the District in the base year.
- A total of 207 District resident students attended an existing charter school in the base year (2007-2008), which represents 3.3 percent of the total district public school enrollment in the base year of 6,188
- It must be noted that the projected enrollment for 2008-09 of students in charter schools may be no more than or even less than the 207 resident students currently enrolled in a charter school since it is likely that students will age out, move, or withdraw for other reasons. It cannot be presumed that all 207 resident students currently enrolled will still be enrolled in subsequent years.
- The School will open for instruction serving a maximum of 100 students in grades K-1. By the fifth year of its initial charter, it expects to serve 300 students in grades K-5.
- Students who turn five years of age by December 1 of the year in which they will enter kindergarten are eligible to apply to kindergarten at the School.
- The School does not have an enrollment preference for at-risk students.
- Interested families will submit applications beginning January 15 until April 1, at which point students will be accepted. If the number of applications exceeds capacity, a lottery or a random selection process will be conducted annually on or about April 15th.
- The School will implement good faith efforts to attract and retain a comparable or greater percent of students with disabilities and English language learners as may be enrolled in the district of location.
- Initially, the School’s budget projected a deficit of $88,943 in its first year of operation, and no deficits in its second through fifth year of operation. With the commitment of a $200,000 loan, operating deficits are no longer projected during the five years of operation.
- The CDLH will lease space to the School for $20 per net square foot. CDLH is constructing this space and assures it will comply with all requirements per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- 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 or proposed 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 the district of location 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
Evergreen Charter School (Hempstead UFSD)
2009-10 through 2013-14
Number of Students
Projected Fiscal Impact of
The Academy Charter School (Hempstead UFSD)
2009-10 through 2013-14
Number of Students
*Assumes a 3 percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $150,616,862 in 2008-2009 and a 4.5 percent annual increase in the average expense per pupil per year.
Additional Fiscal Information Requested by the Board of Regents
- The Department’s Office of Audit Services annually reviews all school district financial statements and federal Single Audit reports to assess a district’s fiscal condition. Based on the 2007-08 financial statements, the Hempstead UFSD (“District”) is identified as a district in fiscal stress for the following reasons:
- The District’s assets exceed its liabilities by a small amount, leaving a small fund balance of $632,000 or.47 percent of the adopted budget
- The District has an unreserved, undesignated fund balance deficit of more than $2.6 million to serve future needs, which is used primarily to provide for accrued employee benefits and to cover a school lunch program deficit. The deficit exists because the district has reserved more fund balance for these future obligations than they have.
- The general rule is that for every two dollars of general fund assets the district have one dollar of liability. The current ratio has been below the 2 to 1 standard in the last four years and is currently approximately 1 to 1.
- Despite a surplus last year, the District projects operating deficits for the 2008-09 and 2009-2010 years which will worsen the fund balance deficits.
- The Hempstead UFSD was identified in fiscal stress or concern in each of the past four years.
- It should be noted that resident students attended a charter school located in a neighboring school district from 2000-01 through 2003-04 during a time in which the District was fiscally stable (not on the Department’s list as a district in fiscal stress or concern).
- Resident students have been attending a charter school since 2000. While the District’s fiscal status was one of “concern” in 1999-2000, there were no concerns during the period of 2000-2004. Thus, there is no evidence to suggest that the resident students attending a charter school contributed in any significant way to the District’s current level of fiscal distress.
- The School will hire a Principal and a Director of Operations and Finance, an administrative assistant, a certified social worker, one special education teacher each for grades K-2 and 3-5, an ESL teacher, two classroom teachers per grade, two teachers’ assistants, a school nurse, a custodian, and other support staff as needed.
- The application provides petitions signed by the parents of 164 students who will be eligible to attend either kindergarten or grade 1 in 2009, all of whom assert their interest in sending students to this proposed charter school.
- The State Education Department sent notification letters, and posted a notice on its website to inform, public and private schools in the county (including the Hempstead Union Free School District) of the proposed application to establish Evergreen Charter School and to invite public comment.
- The Hempstead UFSD held two public hearings: one on August 21, 2008 and another on September 18, 2008. Both hearings were well attended by no less than 60 individuals combined as shown in the DVD recording submitted by the district.
- Comments were evenly divided between those who support charter schools and those who do not support charter schools. Some believe the district has made great strides in academic performance and some believe the district has not made great strides at all.
- The Department received letters in support of the Evergreen Charter School from the State Senator Kemp Hannon (6th District of New York), State Senator Dean Skelos (9th District of New York), and the Hispanic Federation, a network of Hispanic community service agencies in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
- Letters written in opposition of charter schools were received from the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, the Hempstead School Administrator Association, the Hempstead Classroom Teacher Association, and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).