Wednesday, July 07, 2010

important and time sensitive information for CECs and other parent leaders

Fyi. All parents, no matter what their position, should feel free to reach out to the Regents, SED and the SUNY charter school center, to make their views known. Thanks, Leonie

Dear CEC member and/or parent leader:

The charter cap was recently lifted by the State Legislature, and now an additional 260 charter schools can be authorized by the Regents and SUNY throughout the state, 114 of which can be established in New York City. As part of the new law, a new RFP process is required, with the authorizers issuing their request for proposals by Aug. 1; and final decisions being announced by December.

According to the new process, the Regents and the SUNY are supposed to “consider 
the demand for charter schools by the community” in which they will be located, 
and the applicant school is supposed to have “conducted public outreach
to “solicit community input” according to “thorough and meaningful public review.”

This is a critical opening that all CECs, Presidents Councils, and other parent leaders should be aware of, and be as proactive as possible, in making your district’s priorities and wishes explicit, before and during the RFP process.

The charter school law has a bunch of other new requirements, including requiring that all charter schools have enrollment and retention targets for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and those eligible for free/reduced price lunch. For the full text of the law see here:

Here are two different summaries of the new law, one from the NY Charter Schools Association at

and another from the NYC charter center, which assumes the DOE point of view:

Though DOE was not identified in the new law as having the right to authorize new charters, it appears to be their position that they can do so anyway, and may do so unless stopped by a lawsuit.

I am attached an excel file with a list of new charter applicants for next year, which identifies likely districts for most of the applicants, and includes other important information, including what evidence they have cited in terms of community support so far.

This draws from the only lists that DOE and/or SUNY have made public so far; posted at

So far I know of no similar list from the Regents. The DOE published a summary of their applications above; SUNY has said they will put their full charter applications online by July 16.

Though no charter schools under the new cap can be operated by profit-making companies, many applicants are associated with for-profit companies. There are still 12 charter schools under the old cap that can be approved by SUNY, and that do not have to adhere to this restriction.

The attached excel file also has info on whether the charters intend to be co-located in DOE school buildings. I urge you to take a look, and reach out directly to SUNY, the Regents, and SED, with a copy to the Chancellor as soon as possible, before August 1 if you can, letting them know your district’s priorities and needs.

Here are some options for what you might say, depending on your views:

1- You might make clear if you do not want a specific charter school that is applying in your district, and if so, why;

2- Or if you do not want any new charter schools at all;

2- You might say that new charters are fine, but that they should have their own facilities, and not be co-located in your district school buildings;

3- You might express a preference against charter schools with for-profit operators; or those based on online learning (about which there is little research support.)

In any case, whatever your views, you should try to provide as much supporting data as possible to strengthen your arguments, whether that relates to already high levels of achievement in your district’s public schools, or rapidly levels of improving achievement; a high level of overcrowding, and/or rapidly increased enrollment in recent years; or a high concentration of charter schools already in your district.

You should also feel free to reach out directly to the charter school leaders who are applying in your districts, asking them for more information to determine your level of support; we have included contact information where we could find it.

If you need help finding the sources of information on achievement and/or overcrowding, and/or help drafting a resolution, please let me know; we can try to help. Once you have decided what your position is, you should also ask your state and/or city elected officials for letters of support.

Important contact information for the SUNY charter school institute is; its Director, Jonas Chartock, is at; its website at

Email for SED Commissioner David Steiner is; Senior Deputy Commissioner John King (for preK-12 schools); the Regents’ secretary, Tony LoFrumento; and the SED charter school website is at

Finally, we have heard of specific cases in which co-located charter schools were told by DOE as late as this spring that they could significantly expand their footprint and enrollment within their district school buildings for this fall, beyond the previously agreed upon boundaries. Any significant change of school utilization requires an Educational Impact Statement at least six months ahead of the start of the new school year, a building space plan, a building council including parents and teachers, joint hearings of DOE with the affected CEC and SLT, and a vote of the PEP; according to the new governance and new charter school laws. If you know of instances in which these expansions were only recently announced and did not already go through the mandated process, including a full vote of the PEP, please let us know.

I hope this information is helpful; and please feel free to follow up if you have any questions,

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

No comments: