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EMSC Committee



John B. King, Jr.


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for Bushwick Ascend Charter School


January 28, 2010


Goals 1 and 2




Issue for Decision

Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter for Bushwick Ascend 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 Bushwick Ascend Charter School (“the School”).  The School will open in September 2010.  Initially, the School will serve 205 students in grades K-2 and grow to serve 760 students in grades K-6 in its fifth year of operation.  The School's mission is to “equip every student with the knowledge, confidence, and character to succeed in college and beyond.  Our students will, from the earliest grades, steadily build a strong foundation of learning habits, critical thinking skills, and knowledge; excel academically in the middle and high school, mastering high-level math and science; and graduate as confident young adults, prepared to succeed as college students, citizens, and leaders in their chosen fields.”  

The School has contracted with Ascend Learning, Inc. as its management partner.  The School will provide instruction from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. for 180 days per academic year.  The School will be a replication of the Brooklyn Ascend and Brownsville Ascend Charter Schools, both located in Community School District (CSD) 23, in Brooklyn, NY.  No student achievement data on New York State assessments are available for either of the schools currently managed by Ascend Learning, Inc. This year (2009-10) will be the first year that Brooklyn Ascend Charter School will have a required testing grade (3-8) and Brownsville Ascend Charter School does not have required testing grades yet.  The School will implement the international SABIS educational model which focuses on academic achievement from kindergarten through high school. 

The New York City Department of Education held a public hearing in CSD 32 on October 29, 2009 regarding this proposed charter application.  Two verbal comments and two written comments were made in support of the proposed school.

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 Bushwick Ascend 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 8, 2015.

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 Bushwick Ascend Charter School is effective immediately.










New York State Education Department

Summary of Proposed Charter

Name of Proposed Charter School:  Bushwick Ascend Charter School (BuACS or “the School”)

Address:  TBD

Applicant:  Steven Wilson

Anticipated Opening Date:  September 7, 2010

District of Location: New York City Community School District 32, Brooklyn


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

Institutional Partner:   N/A

Management Partner:   Ascend Learning, Inc.

Grades Served:                      2010-2011:  K-2

2011-2012:  K-3

2012-2013:  K-4

2013-2014:  K-5

2014-2015:  K-6


Projected Enrollment:         2010-2011:  205

2011-2012:  235

2012-2013:  355

2013-2014:  565

2014-2015:  760


Proposed Charter Highlights


              Steven Wilson is the founder and president of Ascend Learning, Inc.  Mr. Wilson is the former executive vice president of product development for Edison Schools, Inc., and a former senior fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.  Mr. Wilson is the founder of Brooklyn Ascend and Brownsville Ascend Charter Schools, both located in Brooklyn, NY.  He is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Advantage Schools, an education management organization.  Prior to founding Advantage, he was the special assistant for strategic planning for former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.  He advised the Governor on education policies during the passage and implementation of Massachusetts’ 1993 Comprehensive Education Reform Act.  His recent book, Learning on the Job, examines the first decade of private management of public schools.  His earlier book, Reinventing the Schools: A Radical Plan for Boston, led to the establishment of Massachusetts charter school law, which Mr. Wilson wrote.  He is a graduate of Harvard College.

Institutional Partner


Management Partner


Ascend Learning, Inc. (ALI) is a charter management organization based in Brooklyn, NY, which will supply the educational program and manage the School on a daily basis under the oversight of the Board of Trustees.  Under a five-year contract, ALI will have responsibility for providing and implementing the School’s academic program, recruiting, recommending, and training the School’s director, and the day-to-day operations including management of human resources, leadership development, information technology, financial, and other services.  ALI was formed in 2007 and manages the Brooklyn Ascend and Brownsville Ascend Charter Schools.  Student performance history associated with the operation of the following schools is not available: 


  • Brooklyn Ascend Charter School – January 2008 – Brooklyn, NY
  • Brownsville Ascend Charter School – January 2009 – Brooklyn, NY




  • 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 implement the SABIS international system, which has been refined over 30 years.  The system is sequential, systematic and mastery-based, and spans phonics in kindergarten through advanced placement classes in high school.
  • Weekly laptop-administered SABIS tests, keyed to the curriculum, will provide teachers immediate feedback on curriculum mastery and identify gaps in student understanding.
  • The SABIS program will be combined with a school culture modeled on KIPP, Achievement First, and other urban charter schools considered by BuACS to be high performing.
  • The SABIS “intensives” program will offer an accelerated path for incoming students performing below grade level to rejoin their peers.
  • The educational program will include a comprehensive special education program for students with special needs and a structured immersion program for English language learners.
  • In addition to all New York State (NYS) assessments, the School will use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or a similar norm-referenced test for kindergarten through grade three, as a gauge of academic progress prior to the New York State assessments.
  • BuACS will have a school year of no less than 180 days.
  • The school will provide instruction from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
  • 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 number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five and shall not exceed 11.
  • Trustees will be elected to serve one-year terms. 
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee or contractor or will be affiliated with Ascend Learning, Inc. 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 six times throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be executive, finance, education/policy and nominating committees.
  • The officers of the board of trustees are chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.




  • The School will serve 205 students in grade K-2 in Year One and will grow to 760 students in grades K-6 in Year Five.   
  • The School will enroll 25 students in kindergarten, 60 students in grade one and 120 students in grade two, in Year One. 
  • The School anticipates a class size of 25 – 30 students.  Each class will have one teacher.  The student to teacher ratio will be 25-30: 1. 
  • Students will be recruited through grassroots and community-based marketing strategies, such as participation in community fairs, picnics, and cultural events to build awareness of the School among the families in the community and surrounding communities, where the School will be located.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2007-08 was: 26 percent Black; 71 percent Hispanic; Two percent Asian or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders; One percent Caucasian; 19 percent English language learners; 13 percent students with disabilities; and 91 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School plans to lease a newly constructed facility, designed specifically to meet the needs of the School’s program.  The property owners will assume sole responsibility for financing the construction project and will lease only the space which the School needs as it develops.
  • The School’s Year one revenue will be $3,496,409 and will grow to $10,823,569 in Year Five. 
  • The School expects to carry forward a cash balance of $260,000 from the start-up budget.
  • The School’s budget anticipates total expenses of $3,000,755 in Year One, growing to $9,741,688 in Year Five.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $495,655 at the end of Year One and $1,081,881at the end of Year Five.
  • The School will create a dissolution fund of $70,000 over the first three years of operation.
  • 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

Bushwick Ascend Charter School

(New York City – CSD 32 – Brooklyn)

2010-11 through 2014-15

School Year

Number of Students

Projected Payment*

Projected Impact





















* Assumes a three percent annual increase in the District’s budget from the base of $18.035 billion in 2010-2011; and a three percent annual increase in the average expense-per-pupil per year from the 2010-2011 rate of $12,816.







  • The School will be led by a school director. 
  • The work of the school director will be supported by a dean of students and a dean of instruction.
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction: 11 classroom teachers (29 in Year Five); 1 special education coordinator/teacher (3 in Year Five); 1 physical education teacher (2 in Year Five), and 1 intensives teacher (4 in Year Five).
  • The special education teacher will be New York State certified in Special Education.
  • In addition, the School will employ one full-time social worker, for the entire five year proposed initial charter.


Community Support


  • The School provided 212 signatures of parents with children eligible for enrollment to satisfy its target enrollment.
  • The School has submitted four letters of support for the proposed school from the following community residents and business owners: Henry Powell – Powell’s Computer Service; Johnny Roberson; Pastor Jefferson W. Bannister; and Viviane Jeudy – Day Care Services.  


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 community school district 32 of the proposed application for Bushwick Ascend Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The public hearing was held on Thursday, October 29, 2009.  Two verbal comments and two written comments were made in support of the proposed school.  


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