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Meeting of the Board of Regents | December 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







John B. King, Jr.


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for Lefferts Gardens Charter School


December 8, 2009


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision

Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter for Lefferts Gardens 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 Lefferts Gardens Charter School (LGCS or “the School”).   The School will open on September 8, 2010.  Initially, the School will serve 150 students in grades K-1 and grow to serve 450 students in grades K-5 in its fifth year of operation.  The School's mission is “to utilize an environmental science program to develop academically motivated and civic-minded students to succeed in competitive high school and college programs. The proximity of several community-based environmental institutions provides a unique opportunity for learning that extends beyond the classroom. Graduates of LGCS will leave with an understanding of the relationship among science, the environment, and the everyday world.”  

The School does not have a management partner.  The School will provide instruction from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. for 180 days per academic year.  The School will have an experiential learning approach with an environmental science focus using the process of scientific inquiry to inform learning.

The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) held a public hearing in Community School District 17 on July 21, 2009 regarding this proposed charter application.  NYC DOE submitted ten written comments in support of the charter school in the proposed district.

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 Lefferts Gardens 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 December 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 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 Lefferts Gardens Charter School is effective immediately.









New York State Education Department

Summary of Proposed Charter

Name of Proposed Charter School: Lefferts Gardens Charter School (LGCS or “the School”)

Address:  TBD

Applicant:  Renee Ciccone

Anticipated Opening Date: September 8, 2010

District of Location: New York City Community School District 17, Brooklyn


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

Institutional Partner(s): N/A

Management Partner(s): N/A

Grades Served:                      2010-2011: K-1

2011-2012: K-2

2012-2013: K-3

2013-2014: K-4

2014-2015: K-5


Projected Enrollment:         2010-2011: 150

2011-2012: 225

2012-2013: 300

2013-2014: 375

2014-2015: 450


Proposed Charter Highlights


Renee Ciccone is the Safe Environment Coordinator for The Oratory Church of St. Boniface.  She supervises and coordinates the predator awareness programs for adults and children within the parish.  Actively involved in the Prospect Heights/Lefferts Gardens communities, she has worked within two different settings to organize and manage committees for both her children’s pre-school program and the church Nursery School program. Ms. Ciccone holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Psychological Studies from SUNY Empire State.  She has completed the coursework for a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Capella University. 

Institutional Partner


Management Partner





  • The School will be community-centered with a focus on environmental science using the process of scientific inquiry to inform learning.
  • The School will have Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park Audubon Center, Prospect Park Zoo, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens (PLG) Arts as community partners.  Students will be participating in field studies throughout the academic year in all grades. 
  • Through experiential learning and the application of the scientific method, students will develop skills in goal-setting, hypothesizing, experimenting, observing, reviewing data, and reasoning.
  • 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.
  • The School will use Understanding by Design as the instructional curriculum design tool.
  • The School will administer assessments to identify student levels and needs.  It will use Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA) (required by New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) for school readiness) and the Otis-Lennin School Ability Test (required by NYC DOE for Gifted and Talented Programs) and informal Individual Reading Inventories from Burns and Roe, Durell Analysis of Reading Difficulty, Diagnostic Reading Scales from Spache and Everday Math.  For in-class, small group or individual tutoring, the School will use a combination of Wilson Reading Program and Phonetic Reading Chain.
  • The School will assess student progress towards achieving pre-determined goals through several School-developed interim assessments: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) for grades K-2 and Early Reading Screening Instrument for kindergarten.
  • In addition to mandated state exams, the School intends to administer norm-referenced assessments in reading and math such as Terra Nova. The science curriculum and assessments will be aligned with the American Association for the Advancement of Science standards as well as the New York State standards.
  • The School reports that in 2008 in Community School District (CSD) 17, forty-nine percent of third graders demonstrated proficiency on the NYS ELA exam; and 63 percent of third graders demonstrated proficiency on the NYS Math exam.
  • 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 School will coordinate the academic intervention services for all students with a focus on the at-risk, special education, English language learners (ELL) and students with interrupted formal education (SIFE).  Students will have case conferences, inclusion services, assessments and referrals. 
  • Where possible, the School will recruit parent volunteers or paid community members to provide individual tutoring for student needs.
  • The School proposes a 180-day school year Monday-Friday
  • The School will provide instruction from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. 




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than seven and shall not exceed 11.
  • Trustees will initially serve in staggered terms to ensure a smooth transition of responsibility.  In Year Four, trustees will be elected to serve for a term of three years, renewable for an unlimited period.  Parent Trustees are ex-officio members of the board, whose terms expire when a newly elected Parent Teacher Association president is appointed.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee, contractor or will be affiliated with any other single entity.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held 10 times throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be the executive, finance, education accountability, facilities and outreach.
  • The officers of the board of trustees are chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.




  • 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 in Year One. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of 25 students.  Each class will have two teachers per class.  The student to teacher ratio will be 13:1. 
  • The School will reach out to the community and nearby districts with information sessions held in the mornings and evenings at the School and at other 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, public libraries and children service organizations.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district, including families with students identified as ELL and students with disabilities (SWD).  Applications will be translated in English, French and Spanish (and other languages as needed).
  • The School anticipates the ages of students will range between five and 11 years old.
  • In Year One, the School will only enroll new students in kindergarten and first grades.  In each subsequent year, admissions will be limited to kindergarten. 
  • To address student attrition in grades 1-4, the School will admit students from the waiting list. 
  • The School expects the student body will reflect the population of the target community, which in 2007-2008 was: 86 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic, two percent Other, one percent White and one percent American-Indian or Alaska Native.  Seventy-five percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free lunch program and eight percent were reduced lunch, with eight percent identified as limited English proficient.




  • The School is pursuing alternatives to conventional lease/purchase arrangements through securing underutilized NYC DOE space in the first five years. 
  • The School will pursue alternative plans if NYC DOE space is unavailable.
  • As an alternative to NYC DOE space, the School has identified several options, including leasing and acquisition of property aligned to the instructional plan and projected enrollment of the proposed charter school. 
  • During its first five years the School will embark on a building plan to house the School in a permanent facility for its renewal period. 
  • The School’s Year One revenue is $2,571,510 and will grow to $7,027,496 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates fundraising revenues in the amount of $150,000 in Year One, $250,000 in Year Two, $350,000 in Year Three, $450,000 in Year Four and $550,000 in Year Five.
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $5,333 from the start-up budget.
  • The budget anticipates total expenses of $1,879,541 in Year One and $4,617,962 in Year Five.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $583,646 at the end of Year One and $2,129,566 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to create a dissolution fund of $75,000, to be funded within the first three years.
  • The School estimates receiving a City of New York Start-Up Grant in the amount of $109,650 based on its projected enrollment.
  • 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

Lefferts Gardens Charter School

(New York City – CSD 17 – Brooklyn)

2010-11 through 2014-15

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Payment*

Projected Impact



$           1,922,400




$           2,970,108




$           4,078,948




$           5,251,646




$           6,491,034


* Assumes a 3 percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $18.035 billion in 2010-2011; and a 3 percent annual increase in the average expense per pupil per year from the 2010-2011 rate of $12,819.



  • The School will be led by a principal (proposed to be Marc Magnus-Sharpe – current Dean of Students at United Nations International School). 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by a Director of Operations, Director of Finance and an Office Manager.
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction: 12 classroom teachers (30 in Year Five); one special education teacher; one physical education teacher; one Spanish teacher; one academic intervention specialist; and by Year Five three paraprofessionals
  • The special education teacher will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • In addition, the School will employ a social worker/counselor and a registered nurse (part-time in Year One and full-time thereafter).
  • Staff will receive three weeks of professional development (PD) in the summer prior to school opening.  In addition, teachers will receive weekly afternoon (after 3:00 p.m.) PD throughout the school year.
  • As an incentive to teach at the School, teachers are provided with a professional development grant of up to $2,500 to pursue opportunities related to the goal: “maximize student learning by strengthening our professional team.”
  • Teachers will volunteer to be observed for a period of one week, where peer teachers conduct classroom “learning walks” throughout the school year.  Informal peer observations will provide feedback and best practices.   


Community Support


  • The School provided 180 signatures of parents with children eligible for enrollment to satisfy its target enrollment.
  • The School has received support from the following community leaders, foundations, and community organizations: Eric L. Adams – 20th Senate District, Pearl R. Miles – Community Board 9, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park Audubon Center at the Boathouse, Prospect Park Zoo, Prospect Lefferts Voices for Peace & Justice, PLG Arts,  PLG Food Co-op, Maple Street School, Lefferts Manor Association, The Allen-Stevenson School, and 36 personal letters from community residents and business owners (majority are also parents).  


Public Opinion


  • The NYC DOE sent a letter and posted the notice on its website, notifying the public and independent schools in CSD 17 of the proposed application for Lefferts Gardens Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The NYC DOE held a public hearing in CSD 17 on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, concerning the application.  NYC DOE submitted 10 written comments in support of the charter school in the proposed district.