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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 Initial Charter for the Brooklyn Scholars Charter School




January 30, 2009



Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the staff’s recommendation concerning the proposed initial charter for the Brooklyn Scholars 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, the Board 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 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:


  •  Brooklyn Scholars Charter School


The Brooklyn Scholars Charter School (BSCS or “the School”), with National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) as its management partner, will be located in Community School District (CSD) 19, in the East New York section of Brooklyn.  The School will open September 10, 2009.  Initially, the School will serve 196 students in grades K-4 and grow to serve 574 students in grades K-8 in the fifth year of the initial charter.  The School's mission is “BSCS will be a force for positive change in East New York.  We will build an organization that sets high standards and promotes fundamental values such as integrity, achievement, excellence, and accountability. We will offer K-8 students a rigorous educational program that prepares them for success in high school, college, and throughout life. We will make college the rule, not the exception for students and families. We will involve the community in our school – and our school in the community – for the improvement of both.”  NHA currently manages three charter schools in New York State (see Attachment 1 for performance data).   




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



































New York State Education Department


Summary of Proposed Charter


Name of Proposed Charter School: Brooklyn Scholars Charter School (BSCS or “the School”)


Address:  2635 Linden Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY


Applicant(s):  Brittiny Sessions and Kevin Clark


Anticipated Opening Date: September 10, 2009


District of Location: New York City Community School District 19, Brooklyn


Charter Entity: Chancellor of the city school district of the City of New York (“the Chancellor”)


Institutional Partner(s):  N/A


Management Partner(s): National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA)


Grades Served:                      2009-2010: K-4

2010-2011: K-5

2011-2012: K-6

2012-2013: K-7

2013-2014: K-8


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010: 196

2010-2011: 248

2011-2012: 392

2012-2013: 496

2013-2014: 574


Proposed Charter Highlights




Ms. Brittiny Sessions is an attorney.  Her primary area of practice involves obtaining economic development incentives from municipalities in connection with the acquisition, development and financing of property and/or facilities for use by commercial, small industrial and not-for-profit entities. Ms. Sessions regularly represents underwriters, placement agents, trustees, banks and borrowers in connection with a wide variety of tax-exempt and taxable revenue bond financings, including civic facility revenue bond transactions. She also represents private real estate developers and financial institutions in the acquisition and development process of city-owned property.  She served as counsel to New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA).  Ms. Sessions earned a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law.


Kevin Clark has worked for Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation for 10 years.  At the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, he is currently the Director and Community Liaison of the Spring Creek Gardens Senior Center.  Part of his role is to provide services for the youth of the community.  He has held several positions with the organization: Property Manager, Office Manager and an Americorp Vista Community Organizer.  Mr. Clark graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, NY, attended Kansas State University and completed courses in Community Organizing in the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development at New York University. 


Institutional Partner




Management Partner


National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) is a national management company that provides educational programs to 57 charter schools in six different states.  In the partnership with BSCS, NHA will provide support services in the form of application development, start-up and contingency funding, grant proposals, land and facility acquisition, and community development.  In addition, NHA will manage, operate, and maintain all services related to labor, materials, equipment, and facilities.  This will include aiding in the process of selecting, hiring, and training qualified personnel.  NHA will implement and monitor the educational goals, instructional programs, curriculum, methods of pupil assessment, admission policy and criteria, and ensure compliance with performance targeted educational outcomes.  NHA will also be responsible for notifying the board of trustees of any material health, safety, labor or employee issues or funding problems, and any other problems that could adversely affect the School.  NHA will retain all funds allocated to the School and make expenditures approved by the School’s board of trustees.  Currently, NHA manages three charter schools in New York State, approved by the Board of Regents (for performance data, see Attachment I), which are the following (name – date of charter – authorizer – location):


  • Southside Academy Charter School – December 2001– Board of Regents – Syracuse, NY
  • Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School – March 2002 – Trustees of the State University of New York – Brooklyn, NY
  • Buffalo United Charter School – September 2002 – Trustees of the State University of New York – Buffalo, NY

NHA was also the management partner for the Rochester Leadership School in Rochester, New York, whose charter the Trustees of the State University of New York did not renew in 2005 because the school “failed to meet, over the term of the charter, the educational achievement benchmarks.”




  • The School intends to use a variety of methods to build its educational program around the core concept of “continuous learning” – from ongoing mentoring for teachers, to individualized tutoring and extended hours for students performing below grade level.
  • The School intends to create an environment where all students can acquire the knowledge and skills to succeed at the highest level of individual capacity. 
  • Key program elements for the School will include expectations of excellence, valuing integrity and accountability, developing a character focus program that emphasizes the importance of building strong character, and ensuring academic excellence by offering a rigorous and challenging learning environment in order to prepare students for college success.
  • 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’s curriculum is organized around categories of learning.  The School will supplement its curriculum with educational programs, which currently include Science Research Association’s (SRA) Open Court Reading and Imagine It!, Lucy Calkins’ The Units of Study for Primary Writing, Info-Pairs and the Full Option Science System (FOSS) Science Kits.
  • In addition to the mandated state exams, the School intends to administer norm-referenced assessments using the CTB assessments and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in reading and math.
  • The School will conduct periodic internal assessments in the core subject areas to assist in differentiating instruction and providing additional support to students three times per year using the Measure of Academic Progress (in grades 3-8) and the Primary Grades Assessment (in grades K-2). 
  • The School asserts it will use assessment data to inform teaching and learning.  The plan includes using teachers’ formative assessments to track the mastery of individual students’ progress.
  • The School reports that in 2007, 46 percent of third graders and 29 percent of eighth graders in Community School District (CSD) 19 demonstrated proficiency on the NYS English language arts exam; and 77 percent of third graders and 37 percent of eighth graders demonstrated proficiency on the NYS Math exam.
  • The School will educate students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment.
  • The School will employ a structured immersion strategy to help English language learners achieve proficiency in the English language. 
  • The School will offer a six-week voluntary summer program through Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) for students who have failed or are at-risk of academic failure. 
  • Students in need of extra help will receive 180 minutes of daily instructional time in a voluntary after-school program managed by BELL. 
  • The School proposes a 181-day school year from September to the end of June.
  • The School will provide instruction from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday. 




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five (5) and shall not exceed nine (9).
  • Trustees will be elected to serve for a maximum of three years per term in any position held.  Parent trustees are appointed for one-year terms.
  • Trustees, officers or employees of any single organization shall hold no more than 40 percent of total seats comprising the board.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held seven times throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be executive, educational accountability and finance.




  • The School will serve 40 students in kindergarten, 52 students in grades one and two, and 26 students in grades three and four, in Year One; and will grow to 80 students in kindergarten, 78 students in grades one through five, 52 students in grade six, and 26 students in grades seven and eight, in Year Five.    
  • The School will enroll 196 students in Year One, and 574 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of no more than 20 students in kindergarten and 26 students in grades 1-8.  Each class will have one lead teacher.  The student to teacher ratio for kindergarten will be 20:1 and for grades 1-8 will be 26:1. 
  • Students will be recruited through outreach in CSD 19, advertising in community newspapers and make enrollment information available on local cable television channels and in neighboring communities.  The outreach will extend to students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades K-8 will range between five and thirteen.
  • Initially, the School will enroll new students in kindergarten through fourth grade only.  It will add a grade each year.  To address attrition, the School will immediately fill the spaces with students from its waitlist.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of CSD 19, which in 2005-2006 was: 53 percent Black; 40 percent Hispanic; six percent Asian or Other; and one percent White; 91 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School is planning to occupy a 43,400 square foot facility in CSD 19 located at 2635 Linden Boulevard. 
  • NHA will be investing over $7M in the renovation of the facility for the specific purposes of housing a charter school.
  • NHA will advance to the School $2.4M in Year One, $1.9M in Year Two, $901,013 in Year Three, $258,928 in Year Four, and $312,577 in Year Five.
  • The facility will be owned by the management company.  The School will rent the space from the management company, at a rate of $1.97M in Year One, $1,995,500 in Year Two, $2,021,765 in Year Three, $2,048,818 in Year Four, and $2,076,682 in Year Five.
  • NHA seeks to retain all revenues due to the School.  The fee to the company will be the balance of revenues less expenses. 
  • The School projects a balanced budget in Year One through Year Four.  It projects a slight surplus in Year Five. 
  • The School’s Year One revenue is anticipated at $5,449,237 and will grow to $8,274,251 in Year Five. 
  • The School anticipates no philanthropic contributions over the term of the charter.
  • The School expects to have a $0 cash balance at the end of the start-up period.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $5,449,237, and by Year Five expenses of $8,274,251.
  • The School has a reserve fund of $105,000 in Year One.  Additionally, the School intends to set aside $35,000 per year towards its dissolution fund, starting in Year Two through Year Four.
  • 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 $166,636.
  • 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

Brooklyn Scholars Charter School

(New York City – CSD 19 – 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 School will be led by a principal. 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by a dean and an office secretary, both of whom will be hired in Year One.
  • The School will employ the following staff in Year One: 11.5 classroom teachers (31 in Year Five); one special education coordinator/teacher (one full time and one part-time in Year Five) and one special education aide.
  • The special education coordinator/teacher will be New York State certified in special education.
  • The School will offer teachers one hour of daily focused professional development after student dismissal.
  • Every year, all Staff will receive three weeks of professional development in the summer prior to the School’s opening.
  • The decision to rehire a teacher in subsequent years is dependent upon a rating of core areas: quality of work; quantity of work; dependability; communication and cooperation; and teamwork.   


Community Support


  • The School provided 575 signatures of parents with children eligible for enrollment to satisfy its target enrollment. 
  • The School has received support from the following community organizations: Spring Creek Gardens Senior Association; North East Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation; and the East New York Community Development Corporation.


Public Opinion


  • The New York City Department of Education sent a letter and posted a notice on its website, notifying the public and independent schools in CSD 19 of the proposed application for Brooklyn Scholars Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on Tuesday, July 8, 2008.  No comments were made or received.














Attachment 1

Performance of NYS Charter Schools managed by National Heritage Academy, Inc. on the ELA and Math State Assessments compared to the school district of location 

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

Charter School






Gr. 4


Gr. 4














Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School









NYC Community School District 16


















Buffalo United Charter School









Buffalo City School District


















Southside Charter School









Syracuse City School District