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Meeting of the Board of Regents | February 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for Academic Leadership Charter School



February 2, 2009



Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendations concerning the proposed charter for Academic Leadership 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 February 2009 for action.  It will then come before the full Board for final action in February 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 or school district, as the chartering entity, with comments and recommendations, the Chancellor or the school district must reconsider the proposed charter, taking into consideration the comments and recommendations of the Board.  The Chancellor 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 or the school district resubmits a proposed charter to the Board of Regents, the Board of Regents may, within 90 days of resubmission, either approve or again return the proposed charter to the Chancellor or to the school district for modification.  There is no limit to the number of times the Board of Regents can return a resubmitted proposed charter to the Chancellor 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:


  •  Academic Leadership Charter School


The Academic Leadership Charter School (ALCS or “the School”), will be located in Community School District (CSD) 4, in the East Harlem section of New York City (NYC).  The School will open in August 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 150 students in grades K – 1 and grow to serve 350 students in grades K – 5 in its fifth year of operation. The School's mission is “to develop in students the ability to exceed New York State (NYS) Performance Standards (80 percent mastery at Levels 3 and 4), in all major academic areas, in a safe and nurturing environment.  In partnership with parents and the community, students will be empowered to become leaders and to take an active role in their learning while exhibiting good character.”




VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves and issues the charter of the Academic Leadership 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 February 9, 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 applicant 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.


Timetable for Implementation


           The Regents action for the Academic Leadership Charter School is effective         immediately.     






























New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School:  Academic Leadership Charter School (ALCS or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicants:   Norma Figueroa-Hurwitz and Hazel Cruz


Anticipated Opening Date:  August 24, 2009


District of Location:  New York City Community School District (CSD) 4, Manhattan


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:  200

2011-2012:  250

                                                        2012-2013:  300

2013-2014:  350


Proposed Charter Highlights




              The lead applicant, Dr. Norma Figueroa-Hurwitz, has 30 years experience as a principal with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE); first at the Bilingual Bi-Cultural Mini-School (PS 182) from 1973-1980; then at  PS 83M  from 1980-2003.  She subsequently served as the principal of the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, formerly Sisulu Children’s Academy – Harlem Charter Public School, from 2003-2005.  Dr. Hurwitz earned an Ed.D. degree in Educational Administration from St. John’s University and an MS degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from City College of New York (CCNY).  


              The co-applicant, Hazel Cruz, has over 10 years of experience as an educator in New York City.  For the past three years, she has been an assistant principal at PS 83 in CSD 4.  She earned an MS degree from Lehman College and an MS degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Hunter College.


Institutional Partner




Management Partner






  • The School will promote the development of critical thinking, perseverance, ethics, character and leadership.
  • ALCS will use differentiated instruction and will adjust teaching strategies to meet individual student needs.  Teachers will gather, analyze and use information about student progress to differentiate instruction.
  • The School will use data-driven instruction to ensure that every student reaches high levels of academic achievement.
  • Character education will be taught to help students to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers who will solve conflicts peacefully.
  • The School’s instructional focus will be on content area knowledge and developing conceptual understanding in the four subject areas (literacy, mathematics, social studies and science).
  • The School’s proposed curriculum is aligned with all 28 NYS learning standards.
  • ALCS daily class schedule will include 180 minutes of literacy employing a balanced-literacy program.  Students identified as requiring additional remediation will receive instruction in a work group setting for fifteen minutes in each of the four periods.    
  • The School will use the Open Court textbook series, which includes direct instruction, reading and writing workshops, phonics, guided-reading, vocabulary instruction, read-aloud and cooperative learning opportunities.
  • The Social Studies curriculum will develop students’ knowledge base in history, geography, economics, social and cultural perspectives.  The McGraw-Hill Social Studies Program will be supplemented with authentic literature and trade books.
  • ALCS will employ the McGraw Hill Mathematics Program, which will be supplemented with the Technical Research Centers (TERC) Investigations of Number, Data and Space.
  • Mathematics will be taught twice daily in 45-minute blocks.
  • ALCS will offer a comprehensive science program that includes the Scott Foresman Science program supplemented with the Full Options Science System (FOSS).
  • The School will offer Spanish beginning in kindergarten.
  • In addition to the mandated NYS exams, ALCS will administer norm-referenced assessments in reading and math, such as the Terra Nova Achievement Test.  These assessments will be administered in September and June of each year.
  • The School will use various assessment instruments such as the Early Childhood Literacy Assessment System-2 (ECLAS), the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) and teacher-designed assessments.
  • ALCS will administer evaluations and reports every six weeks concerning student progress toward the School’s academic and behavioral standards.
  • The School will educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and 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 an extended 196-day school year, which amounts to 14 additional school days, as compared to students attending New York City public schools.
  • The School will provide an extended day, with instruction from 7:45 AM – 4:00 PM on Monday through Friday. 




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than nine (9) and shall not exceed thirteen (13).
  • Trustees will be elected to serve two-year terms for a maximum of six years.
  • The Board will seek to add a parent representative within the first two months of the School’s opening. 
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held six times throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be in finance, education, and development and facilities.




  • ALCS will serve 150 students in grades K – 1 in the first year of instruction and will grow to serve 350 students in grades K – 5 in its fifth year of instruction.   
  • ALCS will enroll 75 students per grade in its first year of instruction.  Each grade will have three classes of 25 students each.
  • Each class will have a teacher and an associate teacher. 
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades K-5 will range from five to eleven.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2007-2008 was: 63 percent Hispanic; 32 percent Black; three percent Asian or Other; two percent White; and 90 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.
  • The School expects to enroll approximately 17 percent ELLs.
  • The School expects to serve approximately ten percent special education students.
  • The School will implement good faith efforts to attract and retain a comparable or greater enrollment of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students when compared to the enrollment figures for such students in the school district in which the charter school is located.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district.
  • ALCS will conduct enrollment outreach in the community and nearby districts with admissions informational sessions held at night and on weekends.  It will also advertise in community newspapers and post enrollment information on its website. Additionally, the School will distribute flyers, brochures and applications to elementary schools, community and social service organizations, children service organizations and churches.




  • The School is seeking incubation space in a NYC DOE facility. 
  • ALCS is pursuing alternative facilities in the event NYCDOE space is unavailable. Two community organizations have provided letters assuring the availability of sufficient space to meet the needs of the proposed School.
  • The School’s Year One revenue will be $2,566,728 and will grow to $6,077,718 by Year Five. 
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $2,341,992, and $4,597,278 by Year Five.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $224,736 at the end of Year One and $1,480,440 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School will reserve in an escrow account $70,000 by Year Three, making contributions of $10,000, $30,000 and $30,000 respectively for each year towards its dissolution fund.
  • ALCS will seek State Stimulus Grant and the Charter Schools’ Program Planning and Implementation grant.  The School conservatively assumes $35,000 and $175,000 respectively, from these sources.
  • 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

Academic Leadership Charter School  

(New York City – CSD 4 – Manhattan)

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.




  • Dr. Norma Figueroa-Hurwitz will apply to be the School’s principal.
  • The work of the principal will be supported by a director of operations, an administrative associate and a parent educator.
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction: six classroom teachers, one special education coordinator/teacher, one reading intervention teacher, one ESL/Spanish teacher, one Title I teacher, one physical education/health teacher, one arts teacher, one student/parent coordinator, six teacher-associates, and in Year Five: 14 classroom teachers, two special education coordinators/teachers, two reading intervention teachers, two ESL/Spanish teachers, two Title I teachers, two physical education/health teachers, two arts teachers, one student/parent coordinator, and 14 teacher-associates.
  • The Special Education teachers will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • The School will employ a social worker/counselor (part-time in Year Two and full-time thereafter).
  • As an incentive to teach at ALCS, teachers will be provided with an annual professional development grant of up to $500 to pursue opportunities that will enhance their practice. 
  • The School will implement professional development for its instructional staff for one and one-half hours weekly throughout the academic year. The objective will be to assist classroom teachers, associate teachers and support staff to become familiar with the NYS Learning Standards, the School’s curriculum and the use of assessments as a feedback mechanism to drive instruction.



Community Support


  • The School provided 245 signatures of parents of K-1 eligible children who have expressed interest in ALCS. 
  • The School received support from the following community organizations: East Harlem Council for Community Improvement Inc.; La Clinica del Barrio; Promesa; SCAN Beacon Center; YEP Program; MRDD Services; Metropolitan Hospital Center; Social Security Administration, East Harlem; and the Boys Club of New York.
  • The School has also received letters of support from President Ricardo Fernandez, Lehman College of the City University of New York and from George Eaton, Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Congressman Charles B. Rangel, House of Representatives, Congress of the United States.


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 CSD 4 of the proposed application for Academic Leadership Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on July 7, 2008.  No comments were made or received.