Seeking approval

11 city charter hopefuls move to next round of application process

PHOTO: Geoff Decker

A single-sex school, a school that offers the International Baccalaureate diploma, and a Staten Island high school for students at risk of dropping out are among 11 prospective New York City charter schools that the State Education Department invited this month to submit full applications to open in 2015.

Thirty-four schools across the state submitted letters of intent, and 17 were chosen to continue to this next round of the application process. The Board of Regents will make a final decision on the schools in November. Schools given the green light will get support finding space from New York City, in keeping with recent legislation.

None of the city schools angling for approval from the State Education Department are part of national charter networks. Many are locally-based, such as the proposed New Ventures Charter School, which would target overage students in Staten Island who are not on track to graduate. The application notes that while there are thousands of such students in the borough, Staten Island has only one transfer school to serve them.

Some charter applicants represent small-scale expansions. Steve Perry, the principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., has applied to open a version of the school here. Perry, whose personal website calls him “America’s most trusted educator,” has assembled high-profile board members such as sports media personality Stephen A. Smith.

Other proposed school models include the single-sex school, the Sankofa School for Boys in Harlem, and the Sofara International Charter School, which would be one of the few charters in the city to offer an IB program.

In their letters of intent, schools outlined their missions, enrollment plans, and initial board members. In accordance with new state regulations that require charters to serve the same demographics as district schools, the letters also broadly described how the schools would recruit high-need students.

Hi-Tech Healthcare Charter School, for example, wrote that it would distribute recruitment materials in Spanish to target English language learners and would work with organizations that support students with disabilities.

The schools that the State Education Department is ushering toward operation are only some of the charter schools that hope to open in the city. SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute can also sign off on new schools, and this month, 17 of the 18 schools that submitted letters of intent filed full proposals.

While SUNY invited all 18 proposed charters to apply, one school opted out. This applicant was the Washington Heights Leadership Academy School, which aimed to “carry forward some of the legacy” of Mother Cabrini High School after it closed in June, according to Democracy Prep founder Seth Andrew, who grew up in the neighborhood and submitted the letter.

Andrew said he nixed plans to apply after losing Cabrini’s former facility, which was leased to Success Academy in a deal with the city after Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled one of the network’s schools from a public school site.

Fourteen Success Academies hoping to open over the next two years are among SUNY’s current batch of charter school proposals, along with three Achievement First schools.

These schools, and the 11 being considered by the State Education Department, would serve over 16,800 students at full capacity.

Last month, SUNY picked six charter schools to start up in 2015, and the Board of Regents approved one.

By the end of the five-year charter period, enrollment at these seven schools is expected to top 3,100.

This article has been clarified to reflect the status of SUNY’s charter school applicants.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.