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Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 8:20am

sed seal                                                                                                 










Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School



September 1, 2009



Goals 1 and 2




Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter for Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School (New York City)?


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 Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School (“the School”).  The School will open in August 2010.  Initially, the School will serve 138 students in grades K – 2 and grow to serve 322 students in grades K – 6 in its fifth year of operation.  The School's mission is “to prepare our students for college through a rigorous arts-infused program.”  


The School has contracted with Lighthouse Academies, Inc. (LHA) as its institutional partner.  LHA serves as institutional partner to 11 other charter schools in New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C.  LHA provides its partner schools with assistance in areas of charter school design, curriculum development and assists with school operations.  Based on the application, the School will provide instruction from 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for 190 days per academic year.  The School proposes to use a rigorous standards-based, arts-infused curriculum developed by Lighthouse Academies, Inc. to increase student engagement and thereby increase student achievement.


The New York City Department of Education held a public hearing in Community School District (CSD) 8 on August 6, 2009 regarding this proposed charter application.  Of 13 attendees, 10 were supporters of the proposed charter school.  Three attendees made no comment.  Additionally, three written comments in support of the proposed charter school were received.


Additional information concerning this initial application may also be found on the Board of Regents website at




              VOTED: That the Board of Regents approves and issues the charter of the Metropolitan Lighthouse 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 September 14, 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.


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action for the Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School is effective immediately.

















New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School:  Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School (MLCS or “the School”)


Address:  TBD


Applicant(s):  Anne LaTarte


Anticipated Opening Date:  August 30, 2010


District of Location:  New York City Community School District (CSD) 8, The Bronx


Charter Entity:  Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York


Institutional Partner(s):  Lighthouse Academies, Inc.


Management Partner(s):  N/A


Grades Served:                      2009-2010:  Planning Year

2010-2011:  K – 2

2011-2012:  K – 3

2012-2013:  K – 4

2013-2014:  K – 5


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010:  0

2010-2011:  138

2011-2012:  184

                                                        2012-2013:  230

                                                        2013-2014:  276


Proposed Charter Highlights




              The lead applicant, Anne LaTarte, is a director of special projects for the New York City Department of Education in the division of Accountability and Achievement Resources.  She is a graduate of the Teach for America Corps with experience as a special education teacher at P.S. 128 (CSD 6).  Ms. LaTarte was both a program director and managing director with Teach for America.  Her duties included managing, supporting and training other program directors and Teach for America special education and English as a second language teachers.  Ms. LaTarte holds a Master of Science for Teachers degree from Pace University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in human development and social relations with a minor in theater arts from Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan. 


Institutional Partner


Lighthouse Academies, Inc. (LHA) is a non-profit charter school services organization funded by the Pisces Foundation and the New Schools Venture Fund.  LHA provides its partner schools with assistance in areas of charter school design, curriculum development and school operations.  The Bronx Lighthouse Charter School (BLCS), now located in CSD 8, was the first school with which LHA began working in 2004.  LHA now provides services to 10 other charter schools outside of New York: 


LHA will provide the following services to the School:  development of the accountability plan; development of the School’s annual budget to reflect its mission; setting up the financial, payroll, teacher recruitment and human resources systems and providing oversight for these functions; support in the areas of special education, 504 compliance, and English language learners.  The organization will provide comprehensive curriculum and staff development and implementation guidance.


Management Partner






  • The School will implement the LHA curriculum, a standards-based, arts-infused curriculum that is currently employed by BLCS with good results.  
  • The School will subscribe to the LHA theory of action that arts infusion will engage students on an individual level.  Arts infusion will take many forms, from a single lesson to give students creative freedom in applying new skills and knowledge, to long-term projects based on one or more themes from the core content.
  • The School will provide instruction in each subject in the seven general curriculum areas and the proposed curriculum is aligned to all 28 New York State (NYS) learning standards.
  • MLCS will use a character education program that develops social skills and character traits that include the qualities of self-discipline, humility, intelligence, nobility and excellence (SHINE).
  • The School will practice looping, where teachers change grades with students for two academic years.
  • In addition to the mandated state exams, the School will administer the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments to identify student levels and needs three times per year.
  • The School asserts it will use the NWEA MAP assessment data to inform teaching and learning.  The plan includes tracking the mastery of individual students; tracking the progress of classes; assessing teacher effectiveness by instructional topic and conducting overall evaluations of the curriculum.
  • MLCS, with support from LHA, will develop teacher-created assessments for measuring mastery of curricular learning objectives.
  • The School will implement Response to Intervention (RTI), a tiered system of interventions, as a method to identify and support under-performing students.  A student may receive interventions that include, but are not limited to, programs such as Recipe for Reading, Great Leaps, Open Court’s Reading Intervention Guide, Corrective Reading, Reading A-Z and Investigations (math). 
  • The School asserts that the choice of RTI programs mentioned above may vary from year to year based on the needs of the students and the expertise of the general and special education teachers providing the interventions.
  • In 2008-2009, CSD 8 reported that 76 percent of third through eighth graders demonstrated proficiency on the NYS math exam, while 62.9 percent of third through eighth graders demonstrated proficiency on the NYS ELA exam for students residing in CSD 8.  (See Attachment 1)
  • According to the 2006 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Community Health Profiles, the majority of youth in CSD 8 do not go on to college or seek other forms of higher education, and 14 percent of adults from the area have graduated from college. 
  • 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 proposes an extended 190-day school year from end of August to the end of June.
  • The School will provide an extended day with instruction from 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
  • Over the course of the school year, MLCS students will have had 570 additional school hours as compared to students attending New York City public schools (with a five-hour day at the elementary level).  This equates to nearly 114 additional school days.







  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five (5) and shall not exceed eleven (11).
  • Trustees, including a parent trustee, will be elected to serve two-year terms for a maximum of four terms, or eight years.
  • 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 LHA or any other single entity; and such persons will not serve as chair or treasurer of the Board.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held once per month.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be the Executive Committee, the Finance and Audit Committee and the Education and Accountability Committee.
  • The officers of the Board of Trustees are president, secretary and treasurer.




  • The School will use Year 1 as a planning year.
  • The School will serve 138 students in grades K – 2 in its first year of instruction and will grow to 276 students in grades K – 5 in Year 5.   
  • The School will enroll 46 students per grade in its first year of instruction. 
  • The School anticipates a maximum class size of 23 students.  Each class will have one general education teacher per class.  With special subject teachers, along with assistance of “push-in” special education, ELL and Title I intervention specialists, the student to teacher ratio will be 11:1. 
  • The School will reach out to the community and nearby districts with information sessions held at locations within the community.
  • 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 churches.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the CSD, including ELL and students with disabilities (SWD).
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades K – 5 will range between 5 and 11.
  • Seventy-five percent of students in the targeted area are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunches.  The local population consists of 73 percent Hispanic and 24 percent Black, with 10 percent eligible for special education services.  Approximately 10 percent of the students are likely to be English language learners.
  • Based on a CSD 8 report, the School expects to serve a diverse group where 10 percent of students are recent immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries.   BLCS is located in the same CSD and currently serves 8 percent ELL and 11 percent SWD.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2008 were 24 percent Black; 73 percent Hispanic; 1 percent Other; 75 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease and purchase arrangements that include securing unused parochial school space, underutilized NYC DOE space, in addition to partnerships with other school-facilities organizations. 
  • The School is currently seeking a facility to house the proposed charter school.  The proposed board of trustees plans to retain Gran Kriegel Associates, the design firm used by BLCS, to develop plans and specifications for a site.
  • In the School’s first year of instruction (Year Two), the revenue is anticipated to be $2,794,573 and will grow to $4,919,887 in Year Five. 
  • The School projects expenses of $2,793,093 in Year Two and $3,528,010 in Year Five.
  • The School anticipates no philanthropic contributions over the term of the charter.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $641,567 from the start-up budget.
  • The School anticipates a Year Five fund balance of $1,115,102.  
  • The School intends to reserve $25,000 in Year Two and $45,000 in Year Three for a total of $70,000 per year beginning in Year Four toward its dissolution fund.
  • The School will seek a Charter Schools Program Planning and Implementation grant.  The School does not anticipate receiving a New York City Start-up Grant.
  • 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

Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School

(New York City – CSD 8 – Bronx)

2009-2010 through 2013-2014

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Payment*

Projected Impact





















*Assumes a 3 percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $17 billion in 2008-2009; and a 4.5 percent annual increase in the average expense per pupil per year from the 2009-2010 rate of $12,443.




  • The School will be led by a principal. 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by an administrative assistant and an office manager/business manager who will be hired during the planning year.
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction:  Six classroom teachers (12 in Year Five); two special education coordinator/teachers (four in Year Five); two specialist teachers for art/music/Spanish/physical education (four in Year Five), and one and one-half Title I intervention specialists (four in Year Five), one director of instruction (two in Year Five), one ELL teacher and one counselor.
  • The special education teachers will be New York State certified in special education.


Community Support


  • The School provided 330 signatures of parents with children eligible for enrollment to satisfy its target enrollment.
  • The School has received letters of support from the following community leaders, foundations and community organizations: Maria del Carmen Arroyo, 17th City Council District; Roberto S. Garcia, Community Board 2 Chair; the Point Community Development Corporation; the Bronx River Alliance; and Eva’s Kids Day Care Center. 


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 8 of the proposed application for Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • A public hearing was held on August 6, 2009.  Of 13 attendees, 10 were supporters of the proposed charter school and three made no comment.  Three written comments of support were also received.

Attachment 1

Performance of NYS Charter Schools Managed by Lighthouse Academies, Inc. on the ELA and Math State Assessments Compared to the Community School District of Location


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

Charter School


























Bronx Lighthouse