CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION Hartford

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1 VI.C. CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION Hartford TO BE PROPOSED: April 2, 2014 RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education, pursuant to Section 10-66bb of the Connecticut General Statutes, has considered the four charter school applications before this Board, and accepts the Commissioner s recommendation and grants approval of new state charters to Booker T. Washington Academy and Great Oaks Charter School for the period July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2019, subject to the conditions noted in the Commissioner s April 2, 2014, memorandum to the State Board of Education, and directs the Commissioner to take the necessary action. Approved by a vote of this second day of April, Two Thousand Fourteen. Signed: Stefan Pryor, Secretary State Board of Education

2 CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION Hartford TO: FROM: State Board of Education Stefan Pryor, Commissioner of Education DATE: April 2, 2014 SUBJECT: Granting of New State Charters to Booker T. Washington Academy and Great Oaks Charter School Introduction On November 8, 2013, the State Board of Education (SBE) requested applications for state and local charter schools. The SBE received eight applications for state charter schools by the January 24, 2014 deadline. In accordance with subsection (f) of Section 10-66bb of the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.), the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has evaluated the complete applications based on the standards and review criteria detailed in the Application Package for the Development of State and Local Charter Schools. Today, the CSDE recommends approval of two of the eight applications. Background A team composed of CSDE staff with education expertise and knowledge of charter school operations reviewed the complete applications. The review team determined that five of the eight applications demonstrate a comprehensive model and financial viability for the operation of a high-quality public school. CSDE staff members interviewed the five applicants to further assess each applicant s commitment and capacity. Specifically, the CSDE interviewed: Booker T. Washington Academy (BTWA); Great Oaks Charter School (Great Oaks); Capital Prep Harbor School (Harbor School); Stamford Charter School for Excellence (SCSE); and Democracy Prep Connecticut Charter School (Democracy Prep). Following the interview, Democracy Prep voluntarily withdrew its application from further consideration. The other three applicants Schools for the Future, STEAM Academy for Girls, and South Norwalk Collegiate Academy were not invited for an interview and voluntarily withdrew their applications. For BTWA, Great Oaks, Harbor School, and SCSE, the SBE: (a) held a public hearing on each application in the school district in which the proposed state charter school would be located; and (b) solicited and reviewed comments on each application from the local board of education for the school district in which the proposed school would be located, and from the local boards of education for school districts that are contiguous to the district in which each school would be located. Public support for BTWA was overwhelmingly positive; more than 120 people attended the public hearing, and approximately 26 individuals spoke at the hearing. While significant expressions of support were shown for Great Oaks during its public hearing, there was also notable opposition to the proposed school. The response from the public was largely divided for Harbor School and SCSE. Pursuant to C.G.S bb(f)(1), the SBE shall vote on the complete applications for BTWA, Great Oaks, Harbor School, and SCSE. Charters are granted for a period of up to five years. The SBE may condition the 1

3 opening of a charter school on certain conditions determined to be necessary by the Commissioner, and may authorize the Commissioner to release a charter when the Commissioner determines such conditions are met. As prescribed in C.G.S bb(f)(2), between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2017, the SBE shall not approve more than four applications for the establishment of new state charter schools unless two of the four applications are for the establishment of two new state charter schools whose mission, purpose, and specialized focus are to provide dual-language programs or other models focusing on language acquisition for English language learners (ELLs). On June 5, 2013, the SBE approved two new state charter applications: Brass City Charter School and Path Academy. The mission, purpose, and specialized focus of Path Academy are to provide an educational model focusing on language acquisition for ELLs. Recommendation with Conditions Applications for BTWA, Great Oaks, SCSE, and Harbor School demonstrate a strong capacity to establish and operate high-quality public schools in Connecticut. For the reasons that follow, the CSDE recommends approval of BTWA and Great Oaks for state charters spanning a five-year period, July 1, 2014 through June 30, The CSDE recommends Great Oaks for approval due, in part, to its mission, purpose, and specialized focus to provide a model focusing on language acquisition for students identified as ELLs. In addition, the recommendation is based on aggregate evaluation data generated during the application process, considering the following key elements: (1) the quality of the proposed program as measured against the criteria contained in the charter school application; (2) the substantive issues surrounding the overall feasibility and reasonableness of the application in terms of the likelihood of the opening and operation of a successful, highquality public school; and (3) the CSDE s recommendation that the SBE give preference to the applicant due to its commitment to: (a) serving ELL students; (b) reducing racial, ethnic, and/or economic isolation, (c) partnering with the Great Oaks Foundation, an organization with a record of success; (d) operating in Bridgeport, a Priority School District; and (e) serving students from an underserved geographic location there is currently no charter school in Bridgeport with a specialized focus on serving ELL students. For additional information on Great Oaks, please see attachment A. The CSDE recommends BTWA for approval because it is the highest-scoring applicant of the applicants proposing to open in , and has earned the broadest and strongest local public support for its proposed school. The recommendation is based on aggregate evaluation data generated during the application process, considering the following key elements: (1) the quality of the proposed program as measured against the criteria contained in the charter school application; (2) the substantive issues surrounding the overall feasibility and reasonableness of the application in terms of the likelihood of the opening and operation of a successful, high-quality public school; (3) the degree of public support for the proposed school; and (4) the CSDE s recommendation that the SBE give preference to the applicant due to its commitment to: (a) serving students who receive free or reduced price lunch; (b) partnering with Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc., an organization with a record of operating high-quality public schools in Connecticut; (c) serving students from the Dixwell/Newhallville community, an underserved, high-need area of New Haven; and (d) operating in New Haven, a Priority School District. For additional information on BTWA, please see attachment B. The CSDE further recommends that the SBE grant these approvals subject to the following conditions: (1) receipt of sufficient funding from the General Assembly; (2) receipt of documentation relating to facility requirements, including safety, liability and insurance certifications; (3) receipt of documentation relating to incorporation status and identification of governing board members; and (4) a signed contract between the governing council of each proposed charter school and the identified non-profit organization responsible for 2

4 whole school management services, including a fee structure; the contract must be submitted and approved by the Commissioner prior to the school opening. Pending SBE approval, Great Oaks proposes to serve students in Grades 6-12, beginning in the school year with 100 students in Grade 6. BTWA proposes to serve students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8, beginning in the school year with up to 300 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3. As such, Great Oaks and BTWA would fill the two slots for new state charters funded in If approved, the specific number of students to be served during the inaugural year of each school will be determined at a later date based on available funding and other factors. In summary, the CSDE recommends approval of Great Oaks because the applicant has demonstrated the commitment and capacity to open and operate a high-quality public school with a specialized focus on serving ELL students, beginning in The CSDE also recommends approval of BTWA because it is the highest-scoring applicant of those proposing to open in , and has earned the broadest and strongest local public support for its proposed school. For these reasons, the CSDE recommends approval of Great Oaks and BTWA. Prepared by: Robert E. Kelly, Charter School Program Manager Bureau of Choice Programs Reviewed by: Mark O. Linabury, Chief Bureau of Choice Programs Approved by: Morgan Barth, Division Director Turnaround Office 3

5 Attachment A: Great Oaks Charter School Background The application for Great Oaks, a proposed state charter school to be located in the City of Bridgeport, was received on January 24, Great Oaks amended its application on March 27, 2014, to change the year in which the proposed school would open from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2014 (see attached). The mission of Great Oaks is to prepare students to succeed in college. Accordingly, the purpose of the school is to give its students the knowledge and values required to graduate from a competitive four-year college by delivering individualized instruction, emphasizing high academic and behavioral expectations, and building relationships with families. Great Oaks will provide a rigorous educational program aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, and the Connecticut State Frameworks for all other areas of study. To empower its students to master the skills and concepts included in the rigorous curriculum, Great Oaks will employ an extended learning time model: nine hours and 15 minutes per day and 200 days per year. Students will receive at least two hours of individualized tutoring every day delivered by full-time Tutor Corps members. Tutor Corps is a highly competitive one-year fellowship program that attracts top students from respected colleges and universities around the county. Great Oaks will recruit tutors who are fluent in Spanish and other languages predominantly spoken in Bridgeport, enabling tutors to communicate with students and their families in their native language. Given its specialized focus on language acquisition for ELL students, Great Oaks will have additional supports in place for ELLs. Great Oaks will use an immersion model for educating ELLs, allowing them to rapidly gain language skills through peer interaction and English language immersion. Great Oaks will hire several certified ELL teachers and at least one full-time TESOL certified instructor; this will ensure that ELL students receive the same academic content as non-ells. Teachers will also receive extensive professional development around strategies to support ELLs in the classroom. In addition, as described above, Great Oaks will recruit bilingual tutors to assist ELLs both in class and in individualized tutoring. The Governing Council of Great Oaks will have a standing ELL Committee to ensure that the school is meeting its mission, purpose, and specialized focus in providing a high-quality school for ELLs. The Great Oaks Foundation (Foundation) has served as the primary support team during the planning and design process for Great Oaks. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that has opened highly successful charter schools in Newark and New York City; the charter school in New York specializes in language acquisition for ELL students. The Governing Council of Great Oaks plans to contract with the Foundation as the charter management organization for Great Oaks to provide support services in the areas of recruitment, human resources, operations, finance, curriculum, and professional development. Great Oaks intends to attract, enroll, and retain a diverse student population reflective of the Bridgeport region. ELL students comprise about 13 percent of Bridgeport s student population. Great Oaks will heavily recruit ELLs, setting aside 25 percent of every incoming lottery cohort for ELL students. Pending SBE approval and legislative appropriations, Great Oaks proposes to open in July 2014, with the following enrollment and subsequent growth plan: Year Total

6 As required by state law, Great Oaks must have a demonstrated record of achievement and SBE approval prior to exceeding the statutory limit of 250 students. Great Oaks Application Review Process Application Review: A team composed of CSDE staff with education expertise and knowledge of charter school operations reviewed the application. The application was evaluated based on the standards and review criteria detailed in the Application Package for the Development of State and Local Charter Schools. The review team has determined that the application demonstrates a comprehensive model and financial viability for the operation of a successful charter school. Interview of School Representatives: CSDE staff members met with representatives of Great Oaks on February 18, The purpose of the meeting was to determine the applicant s commitment and capacity to establish and operate a high-quality public school. The meeting required the applicant to respond to a series of questions about aspects of the proposed school. The applicant s answers demonstrated that the Great Oaks team has a strong capacity to establish and operate a high-quality public school. Public Hearing: Joseph Vrabely, Jr., member of the SBE, and CSDE staff presided over a public hearing on Great Oaks application on March 12, 2014, in the City of Bridgeport. Approximately 300 people attended the public hearing; more than 50 individuals spoke at the hearing, including board members and representatives of the Bridgeport Public Schools, representatives of the Great Oaks team, teachers, parents and community stakeholders. While significant expressions of support were shown for Great Oaks, there was also notable opposition to the proposed school. The people who spoke against the application generally opined on the state underfunding Bridgeport s Education Cost Sharing grant, and commented on concerns about the possible impact on local school district funding resulting from a new state charter school. Members of the Bridgeport Board of Education referred to a recently passed non-binding resolution calling for a moratorium on any charter schools in Bridgeport. The people who spoke in favor of the application generally spoke of the need for additional high-quality public school options in Bridgeport, and the opportunity and likelihood of the Great Oaks team opening and operating a great public school. Invitation for Written Comments: The CSDE solicited comments from the Bridgeport Board of Education and from the local and regional boards of education in towns contiguous to Bridgeport. These districts include Fairfield, Stratford and Trumbull. No letters of support were received from the Bridgeport Board of Education or those contiguous to Bridgeport. Requested Preferences: The SBE shall give preference to applicants for charter schools that meet any of the criteria described in C.G.S bb(c)(3). Great Oaks seeks to be considered for the following preferences: (1) serving high-need populations, specifically ELL students; (2) reducing racial, ethnic, and/or economic isolation; (3) partnering with an organization with a past record of success; (4) serving an underserved geographic location; and (5) operating in a Priority School District. 7

7 Attachment B: Booker T. Washington Academy Background The application for BTWA, a proposed state charter school to be located in the City of New Haven, was received on January 23, The mission of BTWA is to educate its scholars for leadership and responsible citizenship in society by developing the cognitive, moral, and social skills of children so they can compete academically and thrive in a diverse global community. Central to BTWA's mission is establishing a safe and nurturing environment, while maintaining high expectations for all students. Students will be exposed to a rigorous and developmentally appropriate curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, and the Connecticut State Frameworks for all other areas of study. In addition, BTWA will deliver a strong character education program to reinforce a culture of high expectations and student achievement. To ensure students master the skills and concepts included in the rigorous curriculum, BTWA will offer a fullday early childhood education program designed to prepare young students to enter and excel in Kindergarten. BTWA will also provide an extended school day of eight hours, including a full day of instruction, tutoring and homework help, and after-school enrichment activities. Additionally, the school will provide a four-week summer enrichment program and Saturday Academy program consisting of three-hour sessions held six times in the fall and six times in the winter. Class sizes will be small, with a maximum of 20 students in Pre-Kindergarten, 21 students in Kindergarten, and 22 students in Grades 1-8. Each classroom will have a certified teacher and an academic assistant, with the exception of Pre-Kindergarten, which will have additional staffing support. The low student-to-adult ratio will facilitate targeted academic interventions and differentiation during classroom instruction to maximize student academic and social achievement. The BTWA Board of Directors will oversee the mission and culture of BTWA. The Board of Directors plans to contract with FUSE to oversee daily school operations and provide whole school management services, including educational design and administrative functions. FUSE is a non-profit school management organization that oversees Jumoke Academy, a highly successful state charter school in Hartford, Connecticut. BTWA has selected a facility located at 495 Blake Street in New Haven, Connecticut, as its temporary location. According to BTWA, the facility requires only minimal improvements prior to the school s proposed opening in July Pending SBE approval and legislative appropriations, BTWA proposes to open with the following enrollment and subsequent growth plan: Year PK K Total BTWA intends to recruit many of its students from the Dixwell/Newhallville community, a New Haven neighborhood where the vast majority of students come from low-income households. However, the school s public lottery will be open to all grade level eligible students in the City of New Haven. As required by state law, BTWA must have a demonstrated record of achievement and SBE approval prior to exceeding the statutory limit of 300 students for schools authorized to serve Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8. Although BTWA proposes to open with 300 students in July 2014, if approved, the specific number of students to be served during the school s inaugural year will be determined at a later date based on available funding and other factors. 8

8 BTWA Application Review Process Application Review: A team composed of CSDE staff with education expertise and knowledge of charter school operations reviewed the application. The application was evaluated based on the standards and review criteria detailed in the Application Package for the Development of State and Local Charter Schools. The review team has determined that the application demonstrates a comprehensive model and financial viability for the operation of a successful charter school. Interview of School Representatives: CSDE staff members met with representatives of BTWA on February 18, The purpose of the meeting was to determine the applicant s commitment and capacity to establish and operate a high-quality public school. The meeting required the applicant to respond to a series of questions about aspects of the proposed school. The applicant s answers demonstrated that the BTWA team has a strong capacity to establish and operate a high-quality public school. Public Hearing: Patricia Keavney-Maruca, member of the SBE, and CSDE staff presided over a public hearing on BTWA s application on March 13, 2014, in the City of New Haven. More than 120 people attended the public hearing, and approximately 26 individuals spoke at the hearing, including City Hall representatives, teachers, parents, and community stakeholders. The response from the public was overwhelmingly positive. Invitation for Written Comments: The CSDE solicited comments from the New Haven Board of Education and from the local and regional boards of education in towns contiguous to New Haven. These districts include East Haven, Hamden, North Haven, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge. No letters of support were received from the New Haven Board of Education or those contiguous to New Haven; the Superintendent of Woodbridge submitted neither a letter expressing support for nor opposition to the proposed charter school. Requested Preferences: The SBE shall give preference to applicants for charter schools that meet any of the criteria described in C.G.S bb(c)(3). BTWA seeks to be considered for the following preferences: (1) serving high-need populations, specifically students who receive free or reduced price lunch; (2) partnering with an organization with a past record of success; (3) serving an underserved geographic location; and (4) operating in a Priority School District. 9

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