EMSC-VESID Committee


James A. Kadamus


Charter School Application


August 31, 2005


Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Decision


Should the Regents approve the proposed charter for a charter school submitted to the Board of Regents?


Reason(s) for Consideration


          Required by Education Law, State statute §2852.

Proposed Handling


This question will come before the EMSC-VESID Committee on September 8, 2005 for action.  It will then come before the full Board for final action on September 9, 2005.


Procedural History


Under the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998, the Board of Regents is authorized to make recommendations on charter school applications submitted directly to the Board as the charter entity.    


Background Information


We have received one charter school application submitted to the Board of Regents as the charter entity that will be presented to you at your September meeting.  The application is for the following:



The application for the Rison Academy of Art Charter School was submitted in June 2005.  It purports to serve 200 students in Mount Vernon in grades 6 –12.  It has no management company or other institutional partner.


The following table summarizes the number of new charters that may still be issued by charter entities in New York:


Charter Entity

SUNY Trustees

All Other Charter Entities

Remaining against statutory ceiling





The New York City Chancellor has also approved eight conversion charter schools and the Buffalo City School District has approved one conversion school, all of which do not count against the statutory ceiling. 




VOTED:  That the Board of Regents deny the application to establish the following charter school because:  1) the charter school described in the application does not meet the requirements set out in Article 56 of the Education Law, and in all other applicable laws, rules, and regulations; (2) the applicants cannot demonstrate the ability to operate the school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner; and (3) granting the application is unlikely to improve student learning and achievement or materially further the purposes set out in subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty of Article 56 of the Education Law:


·       Rison Academy of Art Charter School, Mount Vernon


Timetable for Implementation


The Regents action will become effective pending the action of the full Board on September 9, 2005.  


New York State Education Department


Summary of Charter School Review


Summary of Applicant Information




Name of Proposed Charter School:  Rison Academy of Art Charter School


Address:  128 South 4th Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY 10550


Applicant(s): Martha Rison, Adrienne Rison-Isom, Dorothy Timmons, Sharri Timmons, Boston Chance, Lynette Brinson, D.L. Bearden, and Peter Lilly


Anticipated Opening Date:  September 2006


District of Location: Mount Vernon City School District        


Charter Entity:  Board of Regents


Institutional Partner(s):  None


Management Partner(s): None


Grades Served:     6-12                                 Projected Enrollment: 100 (200)




Application Highlights





Martha Rison is a retired teacher from New York who now lives in Austin, Texas.


Adrienne Rison-Isom is a teacher and the executive director of an arts organization.  She lives in Austin, Texas.


Dorothy Timmons is a retired school administrator who lives in Mount Vernon, New York.


Sharri Timmons is a teacher who lives in Mount Vernon, New York.


Boston Chance is a retired school administrator who lives in Jamaica, New York.


Lynette Brinson is currently a school principal who lives in Brooklyn.


D. L. Bearden is the director of a non-profit educational organization who lives in Pflugerville, Texas.


Peter Lilly is a school administrator who lives in New York City.


Institutional/Management Partner





·       The curriculum is incomplete, and what was presented is not aligned with the New York State Learning Standards.

·       The Rison Academy of Art Charter School (“the School”) would serve students in grades 6-12 in one of the four artistic disciplines: music, dance, theater, or graphic arts.

·       The curriculum addresses competence in the arts first before any other areas.

·       The core curriculum would be a web-based virtual program.

·       Languages Other Than English would be provided by a private language school and not by the charter school.

·       Career Development and Occupational Studies would be limited to arts engineering and the business of arts and the humanities.

·       Many books to be used are on-line only.

·       Regarding the virtual approach, the application itself states, “There is no guarantee that the process is going to work for all learners.”

·       The application provides for an impermissible enrollment criterion in that students must “have achieved a high level of technological skill and have stable access to the internet either at home or through a community resource.”

·       The application does not address how the proposed educational program will enable students to meet or exceed the State’s performance standards.



·       The applicants would also constitute the initial Board of Trustees.

·       There is no discussion on how the Trustees who live in Texas would be able to meaningfully and consistently participate in Board meetings or otherwise manage the oversight of the School.

·       The Board would have a regular meeting only every two months.



·       Only students who are technologically adept and who have regular access to the internet would be enrolled.

·       The strategies and methods by which services to students with disabilities would be provided are vague, and show no understanding of the federal requirements per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

·       The strategies and methods by which services to students with limited English proficiency would be provided do not comprise an adequate program.  The application references various resources on the Department’s website and confuses these with a “special language instructional program” that it intends to use.

·       The School would serve only 100 students in grades 6-12, but it would allow for incremental increase up to 200 students if the School needed more revenue to balance its budget.



·       The expected revenues were based upon a charter school in Texas.

·       The proposed budget expects total revenues in the first year of $1,066,500 and expenditures of $1,015,500, for a surplus of $51,000.

·       The proposed site will be shared with the current occupant, the Association of Community-Based Artists of Westchester.

·       Renovations need to be made to the building, but they are not referenced in the proposed budget.


Fiscal Impact

·       The application states that the School “could have a significant impact on the Mount Vernon City School District that would cause a reduction in force of several teaching positions.”

·       The application does not provide a financial impact statement of any kind, but rather seeks information from the District regarding its perception of any such impact.

·       See below for projected fiscal impact.



·       The School expects to hire four full-time certified academic teachers (including the Dean), eight part-time art instructors/coaches as liaisons with the virtual school, one certified principal, and one Dean.

·       On-line middle school courses would be purchased from the Houston (Texas) Independent School District Virtual School “or a similarly qualified vendor.”   Those qualifications were not described.


Community Support

·       The application provides no evidence of adequate community support such that the School could meet its intended enrollment.



·       Deny the application.


Reasons for Recommendation

·       The application seeks to establish a virtual school, which has been deemed to be impermissible under Article 56.

·       The application provides no evidence that the School would be educationally or fiscally sound.

·       There is no indication of adequate community support.





Projected Fiscal Impact of the

Rison Academy for the Arts Charter School




Projected Enrollment*


Expected Revenue

District Budget***

Percent Impact





































*Actual enrollment may vary.  Also, the application provides conflicting information on the number of students to be enrolled yearly.

**Assumes a 3% increase in adjusted expense per pupil (AEP); actual AEP may increase by more, or even decrease.

***Projected.  Assumes a 4% increase in budget; actual increase may be more.