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EMSC Committee



John B. King, Jr.


Charter Schools: Proposed Charter for Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School


February 2, 2010


Goals 1 and 2




Issue for Decision

Should the Regents approve and issue the proposed charter for Democracy Prep Harlem 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 Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School (“the School”).  The School will open in August 2010.  Initially, the School will serve 108 students in grades 6 and grow to serve 324 students in grades 6-8 in its fifth year of operation.  The School's mission is to “educate responsible citizen-scholars in grades 6-8 for a life of active citizenship and success in the college of their choice.”

The School has contracted with Democracy Prep Public Schools as its management partner.  The School will provide instruction from 7:45 a.m. – 5:15 p.m., Monday – Thursday,  and 7:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Friday for 190 days per academic year.  The School is a replication of the Democracy Prep Charter School located in Manhattan in Community School District (CSD) 5.

The New York City Department of Education held a public hearing in CSD 5 on December 10, 2009 regarding this proposed charter application.  More than 250 community members attended the hearing.  Three verbal comments were made and three written comments were submitted all in support of the 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 Democracy Prep Harlem 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 Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School is effective immediately.












New York State Education Department

Summary of Proposed Charter

Name of Proposed Charter School:  Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School (DPHCS or “the School”)

Address:  TBD

Applicant(s):  Seth Andrew

Anticipated Opening Date:  August 30, 2010

District of Location: New York City Community School District 5, New York


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

Institutional Partner:  N/A

Management Partner:  Democracy Prep Public Schools

Grades Served:                      2009-2010:  6

2010-2011:  6-7

2011-2012:  6-8

2012-2013:  6-8

2013-2014:  6-8


Projected Enrollment:         2009-2010:  108

2010-2011:  216

2011-2012:  324

2012-2013:  324

2013-2014:  324


Proposed Charter Highlights


              The lead applicant is Seth Andrew.  Mr. Andrew is the school leader of Democracy Prep Charter School (DPCS), which he founded in 2005 in Harlem, and is the chief executive officer of Democracy Prep Public Schools (DPPS), a not-for-profit charter management organization (CMO).  His background is in teaching, special education and school administration.  He also taught English as a second language in Chonan, South Korea.  Prior to opening DPCS, he was a fellow at Building Excellent Schools in Boston, MA.  Mr. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and public policy from Brown University in Rhode Island.  He has completed coursework at the Harvard Business School and has earned a Master of Education degree in school leadership and school development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Institutional Partner


Management Partner


Democracy Prep Public Schools (DPPS) is a not-for-profit CMO that will provide materials, management, legal and support services to Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School to ensure student outcomes similar to those of Democracy Prep Charter School (DPCS).  Services include curriculum materials, program design and development, teacher and principal recruitment and best practices training, accounting and business management, back office and human resources, fund development, technology, charter applications, renewal and accountability, inspections, reporting, special education management and marketing and advocacy.  The CMO also serves Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley in Valley Falls, RI.  The Rhode Island school opened in 2009 and currently serves kindergarten students.



  • In 2008-2009, DPCS located in Harlem, the school after which the School is modeled, out-performed its district of location, CSD 5.  DPCS reported 70.5 percent of students were proficient in English language arts (ELA), with a Performance Indicator (PI) of 170, compared to CSD 5, which reported 58.9 percent of students were proficient with a PI of 155.  DPCS reported 90.4 percent of students were proficient in math with a PI of 189, while CSD 5 demonstrated 72 percent of students were proficient with a PI of 167 (See Attachment 1).
  • The School has been developed with the intention of delivering a well-rounded education experience that allows both academic growth and character development to develop “citizen-scholars.”
  • The School supports the notion that “demographics do not determine destiny” and that urban students do succeed if provided with rigorous academics, discipline, enrichment and support.
  • The School believes that “no excuses” character education should permeate every aspect of the School and that children must have daily opportunities to develop intellectual curiosity and academic excellence while engaged in a robust civic education with democratic responsibility and civic leadership, and ultimately, to take full responsibility for their learning. 
  • The School plans to create an environment committed to the core values of rigorous scholarship, respectful character, robust citizenship and responsible leadership.
  • The School will provide opportunities to explore and make a personal connection to the DREAM (discipline, respect, enthusiasm, accountability and maturity) Principles.
  • The School plans to develop a careful and coherent college prep platform for learning that allows students to build on the knowledge and skills gained in each succeeding year - an experience that will eventually stretch from grades 6 – 12. 
  • The School plans to provide students opportunities for personal challenge and growth through frequent evaluation and assessment, exemplary teaching, more time to learn with an engaging curriculum and a respectful school culture with a disciplined environment.  
  • 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 the same curricular materials in use at DPCS.   This includes:
    • Guided reading, English literature and readers workshop;
    • Guided writing, grammar and writers workshop;
    • Saxon Math and Connected Mathematics Program to build mathematical skills and support problem-solving which leads to the study of algebra for all eighth graders;
    • Geography and US history studies by incorporating History of Us, We the People, and Hisory Alive!
    • Science and technology through the use of Full Option Science System (FOSS) and Delta Science which leads to Regents level environmental science by the eighth grade;
    • Enrichment courses such as public speaking, African drumming, banking, investment and entrepreneurship, chess team, debate team, jazz band, vocal music, theater production, step/dance workshop, along with regular health and physical education.
    • Daily advisory, limited to groups of 12 – 15 students, and weekly Town Hall meetings for the entire student body and faculty to receive recognition, exhibit exemplary work and to discuss and debate current events and issues of importance to the School and community.
  • The School will administer NYS exams for English language arts (ELA) and math, as well as at least one Regents exam in eighth grade.
  • The School will use Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), allowing teachers to diagnose and monitor students’ progress consistently and frequently in order to inform instruction.
  • The School envisions giving students opportunities to visit at least four colleges annually, and numerous civic or historical sites by the time they graduate from high school.  Travel is planned to Washington, D.C., Boston as well as other cities.
  • By the time students graduate from eighth grade, each will have developed and refined a College Preparation Portfolio that includes a completed application to the college of their choice (essays, recommendations, transcripts, resume, etc.).  The portfolio and presentation are prepared and judged with rubrics that have been validated and refined by DPCS.
  • Students will complete an oral exhibition of their course work by the end of each grade.  An oral exhibition includes a videotaped mock college interview and an exhibit of their best academic work from all subjects.  This work is judged according to rubrics and is presented to a panel of guest judges from outside the School who are also college graduates.
  • The School will employ a structured immersion strategy to help English language learners (ELL) achieve proficiency in the English language.  At least one teacher or administrator on staff will be fluent in Spanish.   
  • DPHCS will provide instruction from 7:45a.m. – 5:15 p.m., Monday – Thursday,  and 7:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., on Friday. 
  • The School proposes a 190 days per academic year from September to the end of June.




  • The number of Trustees shall not be fewer than five and shall not exceed 15.  The initial board of trustees (BOT) will have seven members
  • Trustees will be elected to serve two-year terms for a maximum of three terms, unless the BOT designates otherwise.
  • No more than 40 percent of trustees will be affiliated with the School as a compensated employee or contractor or will be affiliated with DPPS or any other single entity; and such persons will not serve as chair or treasurer of the Board.
  • Regular meetings of the BOT shall be held 10 times throughout the year.
  • The initial committees of the Board of Trustees shall be executive, governance, finance, development and academic accountability.
  • The officers of the board of trustees are chair, vice chair, clerk and treasurer.
  • Twenty-nine percent of the BOT for the proposed charter school also serves on the DPCS board.




  • The School will serve 108 students in grade six in Year One and will grow to serve 324 students in grades 6-8 in Year Five.   
  • The School anticipates a class size of approximately 20 students.  Each class will have one teacher per class.  The student to teacher ratio will be about 20:1. 
  • 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 communities of faith.
  • The School’s recruitment plan includes strategies to advertise widely to families from the community school district, including ELL and students with disabilities (SWD).
  • The School anticipates the ages of students enrolled in grades 6 – 8 will range between 12 and 15 years old.
  • Initially, the School will enroll new students in sixth grade only.  In subsequent years, it will enroll new students for grades seven and eight only if the seats are available through attrition.
  • The School expects the student body to reflect the population of the target community, which in 2008-2009 was 60 percent Black, 37 percent  Hispanic, two percent  Asian/Other, one percent  White, 23 percent SWD, 11 percent  ELL, and 89 percent of the area public school children participated in the federal free/reduced lunch program.




  • The School is currently seeking space in an under-used New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) facility to house the proposed charter school. 
  • The School’s Year One revenue is $2,066,002 and will grow to $4,706,604 in Year Five.
  • The Year One budget anticipates total expenses of $1,547,380 and will grow to $4,383,866 in Year Five.
  • The School anticipates an ending fund balance of $518,622 at the end of Year One and $322,738 at the end of Year Five.
  • The School intends to use $75,000 per year towards its dissolution fund, starting in Year One. 
  • 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

Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School

(New York City – CSD 5 – Manhattan)

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 principal. 
  • The work of the principal will be supported by an office manager (with an operations manager and a business manager hired in Year Five).
  • The School will employ the following staff in its first year of instruction: seven classroom teachers (21 in Year Five), one of which is designated an academic collaboration team teacher/leader.
  • The special education teacher (four in Year Five) will be New York State certified in Special Education.  The director of special education will be recruited through DPPS.
  • In addition, the School will employ a full-time social worker.
  • An early student dismissal day (Friday) each week is planned to allow over three hours a week of focused professional development.
  • Staff will receive four weeks of professional development in the summer prior to school opening.


Community Support


  • The School provided information regarding the waiting list from DPCS, also located in CSD 5, which showed over 1,500 requests for applications for 80 open seats for the 2009-2010 academic year.


Public Opinion


  • The NYC DOE sent a letter and posted the notice on its website, notifying the public and independent schools in CSD 5 of the proposed application for Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School and inviting comments for the public hearing. 
  • The NYC DOE held a public hearing in CSD 5 on December 10, 2009 regarding this proposed charter application.  More than 250 community members attended the hearing.  Three verbal comments were made and three written comments were submitted all in support of the School.





Attachment 1


Performance of NYS Charter Schools managed by Democracy Prep Public Schools 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






















Democracy Prep CS



















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