D.C. Public Charter School Board
Board Meeting Minutes
Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
1100 Harvard St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
April 23, 2012
Board Members in attendance: Mr. Brian Jones (Chair); Mr. John “Skip” McKoy; Mr. Don Soifer; Ms. Emily Bloomfield; Dr. Darren Woodruff; Mr. Scott Pearson (ex-officio)
Mr. Brian Jones called the public hearing to order at 6:38pm
School Oversight Committee- Request for Charter Amendment- Excel Academy Public Charter School
Representatives- Kay Savage, Founder and CEO; Lela Johnson, Principal; Nikki Ayanna Stewart, Academic Dean
Ms. Rashida Kennedy from Staff introduced Excel Academy’s request to amend their charter to adopt the Core Knowledge curriculum before the Board.
Ms. Nikki Stewart said that they are requesting changing to Core Knowledge because they were at the table during the writing of the Common Core Standards, and feel that this curriculum is much better aligned with those standards, which they are adopting.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if this curriculum is used in other places.
Ms. Nikki Stewart said that it is used nationwide.
Mr. Brian Jones thanked the representatives and said the Board will vote on this at a subsequent time.
Hearing on Proposed Board Policies- Charter Amendment Policy, Data Submission Policy, Revision to Performance Management Framework Guidelines
Mr. Brian Jones asked that anyone who wants to comment on the proposed policies to come up and make a public statement.
Seeing no one, Mr. Brian Jones closed to public comment.
Public hearing adjourned at 6:46pm
Mr. Brian Jones called the public meeting to order at 6:48pm
Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.
Approval of the Agenda
Mr. Brian Jones asked to add an item to the agenda. He asked that the Board vote on Excel Academy’s charter amendment and asked for any objections. Hearing no objections Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the agenda for the evening. Dr. Darren Woodruff moved the motion and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of the Minutes from March 12, 19, and 20
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the minutes from March 12, 19, and 20. Mr. Don Soifer moved the motion and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Brian Jones read the contracts for January 2012 for more than $25,000 that were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.
Approval of Proposed Board Policies- Charter Amendment Policy, Data Submission Policy, Revision to Performance Management Framework (PMF) Guidelines
Mr. Brian Jones asked for discussion among Board Members.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked for a brief summary of each proposal.
Mr. Brian Jones introduced Ms. Naomi DeVeaux from Staff who summarized the proposed revision to the PMF guidelines.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to approve the policy and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux summarized the charter amendment policy.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if Ms. Naomi DeVeaux could give a sense of how many comments we have received on these proposed policies.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux answered that for the PMF guidelines we received one comment, for the proposed charter amendment we received three, and for data submission we received fifteen.
Mr. Skip McKoy moved to accept the policy and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux next introduced the data submission policy.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to approve the motion, and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Schools Oversight Committee- Request for Replication- KIPP DC Public Charter School
Representatives- Laura Bowen, Chief Academic Officer; Irene Holtzman, Director of Student Data and Accountability; Alex Shawe, Director of Real Estate and General Counsel
Ms. Monique Miller from Staff introduced KIPP DC’s request to replicate its early childhood, elementary, and middle school programs starting in the 2013-2014 school year before the Board.
Mr. Brian Jones asked the representatives from KIPP DC if they wanted to add anything
Ms. Irene Holtzman said that KIPP DC has had to turn away 2,600 kids and that they want to expand to meet the needs of the children of the District of Columbia.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if they know where they prefer to locate.
Mr. Alex Shawe said that they have been tracking the results of the IFF study and want to focus on Cluster 23 in Ward 5 if possible
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved the motion to approve the request for replication and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Mr. Skip McKoy abstained.
Schools Oversight Committee- Request to Approve Charter Amendment- Excel Academy Public Charter School
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to approve the charter amendment and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Adoption of Statement on Maya Angelou and Options Public Charter Schools
Mr. Brian Jones said that the reason for the statement concerning these schools is because they are two of the schools in the PCSB’s portfolio that serve uniquely challenged populations, and that while their PMF scores do not reflect strong performance, it could be because of the population they serve. The PCSB has been working on a PMF evaluation that better reflects the population these schools serve. This statement makes clear our intentions on this regard and that this will help those schools with their financing.
Mr. Brian Jones read the statement into the record. He said that it is dated April 17 but that the date can be changed.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for comment.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that she was recently at Options and that it is difficult for schools to attract and retain high quality staff if the school is constantly under the shadow of revocation, and they needed a sense of a timeframe in which they could operate without this shadow hanging over them. She added that with that said, while we are looking at alternative frameworks, we should be looking at best in class quality frameworks.
Mr. Brian Jones said that it is an important clarification. He added that this makes clear that the Board, pending the development of a more appropriate measure, will not move to close the school on PMF scores, but that the Board will still reserve the right under the School Reform Act to close the schools under other criteria such as financial or legal infractions.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked why we are calling this a statement rather than a policy or interim policy.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that he thinks that it could be called a policy as well, but since that it is a onetime thing for certain schools that it doesn’t rise to that level.
Mr. Skip McKoy wanted to clarify that it has no less enforcement on our part than a policy.
Dr. Darren Woodruff wanted to underscore the spirit of whether this is a statement or policy our support as a Board to have schools that have a variety of missions and curricula to working with students. He added that we do not want to have an accountability rubric that is one size fits all. We want to encourage schools in D.C and outside who want to move in who want to work with these populations.
Mr. Brian Jones said that Mr. Skip McKoy asks a good question but that it is his sense that categorizing it as a statement is appropriate due to its limited scope and duration.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield concurred with Mr. Brian Jones and moved to approve the statement. Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval to Open Public Comment Period on the PCSB Budget Proposal
Mr. Scott Pearson introduced the budget proposal to raise the administration fee on schools to affect all public revenues to the Board in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
Mr. Scott Pearson explained that the reasons for the raise in the administration fee stems from the decline in PCSB’s revenues from having to spend on school closures, which has not previously been a budgeted item. He added that the PCSB is also uncertain of the amount of federal and OSSE funds that it would receive, that there has been a decline of appropriations from the DC Council, and that certain foundation dollars are scheduled to end. It is for these reasons that the PCSB is proposing to expand their current administrative fee on schools to cover all public revenues instead of just local public revenue. Even with this increase in the administrative fee, PCSB’s budget would still be at its lowest since 2008.
Mr. Brian Jones thanked Mr. Scott Pearson and the staff for their work on the proposal. He said that it took a great deal of effort and that these are challenging times for this Board and other public institutions. He then asked for any questions.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if this presentation could be shared with the different groups that appropriate funds to us. From this overview there is a strong argument to be made for either increased funding or for more consistency.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that the federal funds come late in the year and that the funds from OSSE are three-sector funds. Our relationship with OSSE is a good one and we do not expect that OSSE would withhold funds this year.
Mr. Brian Jones said that this is the beginning of the process and that any vote we have here today is a vote for public comment. He suggested that as we post these proposals we also post this PowerPoint presentation as well.
Mr. Brian Jones asked Mr. Scott Pearson to speak on the impact on our work and for his sense on finding savings and cost reductions and if that has impacted the work of the staff.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that while it was his impression that the initial proposals had the Staff concerned, it has been positive for the Staff. In previous years we used outside consultants to review the charter applications and staff managed them. By having Staff review applications we had a better process that was less subjective. It allowed us to tap into the expertise of our staff for a better process at a lower cost.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that she thinks that the presentation is helpful, but that it would be more helpful to juxtapose this against the growth in number in LEAs and pupils. While we have had a decline in revenue we have had a growth in the sector. She also asked that we include information on the Board’s focus over time and the diversity of schools in our portfolio and how we’ll need different performance management frameworks to measure those schools.
Dr. Darren Woodruff wondered what the connection between oversight fees and academic outcomes is. One might infer that we are undercharging for what we are producing.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that we charge less than other authorizers from around the country but that we also have appropriations from the Council and OSSE.
Mr. Brian Jones said that on his part that he would only be comfortable making this proposal if we have a value proposal that we could make. The Board and the Staff are committed to bringing the strong talents of our Staff more directly to bear. We have made a move to become a more vocal and assertive and advocate for our school partners. That is an important part of the value proposition here. I would argue that what we are seeing out of our Staff and leadership today is an ever improving focus on a value proposition to the schools.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield added that to that point the cost of closure is a factor as well. If we want to be doing closure of underperforming schools, we want to do it that is least disruptive to families and that we need funding to be able to do that. There is a possibility of having new schools provide a security deposit against closure like some authorizers currently do. It is an option that we should look at.
Mr. Brian Jones agreed and said that the Board and the Staff are committed to improving the overall quality of the schools that we authorize in our portfolio.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that it is necessary to have our own general counsel to enable us to have better decisions and to save us money in the long run. Another part of what would over time help improve the portfolio is more time and dedication of the Staff and Board to look out in the field the work of outstanding CMOs and providers so that we can work to attract excellent schools.
Mr. Brian Jones agreed and then asked for a motion.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to submit the proposal for public comment, and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Request to Approve Public Comment Period on Model Charter Amendment
Mr. Scott Pearson introduced before the Board the proposal for the creation of a model charter amendment that would allow for the closure of a single campus of a school without having to revoke the entire charter. He added that this is a messy and unpredictable process that can damage the schools other campuses. It is in the PCSB’s interest to be able to close low performing campuses. We are proposing an amendment to close an individual campus.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for comment.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he very much supports this policy. It is similar to approving an alternative PMF for certain schools. It offers the Board more flexibility in its options with dealing with schools. He is all for it.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to submit the proposed policy for public comment, and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval/Denial of 2012 Charter Applicants
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux from Staff introduced the recommendations on the 2012 charter applicants before the Board.
Community College Preparatory Academy
PCSB staff recommends that the application for Community College Preparatory Academy Public Charter School be accepted with conditions.
The applicant group presented compelling statistical data that underscore the need for a school that addresses the enormous problem of aging adult dropouts and high numbers of disconnected youth in Washington, D.C. The program goals and offerings reflect the mission: “To provide the education and skills development that will empower and prepare under-credited adults for postsecondary education success, viable employment and lifelong learning.” The program focus is designed to include cross-curricular thematic strands across vocational and academic learning tracks with purposeful articulation between the Community College and the University of the District of Columbia’s Work Force. However, there are aspects of the application that need to be strengthened for the staff to recommend granting full approval. These conditions include a significantly more developed curriculum, more clarity on instructional strategies, greater clarity on the vocational program, and a formal agreement with UDCCC. Moreover greater care needs to be taken in developing the school’s business plan: payroll and occupancy for years one and two make up a combined total of 88% and 81% of revenues, respectively, leaving less than 20% for all other implementation costs. Members on the Founding Board clearly possess the expertise and the capacity to satisfy all conditions and oversee the development and successful implementation of the program.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for comments.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked about the school’s proposal to work with young people to achieve a two year increase in scores in three months. He asked if Ms. Naomi DeVeaux recalls any statistics to bring them up that quick.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that it was one year and that they answered how they would do that in their interview.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that it was one of the more exciting applications. It becomes more and more difficult to meet the areas of unmet need, but this application if approved will serve a population that did not have the best experience in their academic careers. These are adults looking for a bridge to get them from school to college.
Mr. Brian Jones agreed with Dr. Darren Woodruff. He said that it creates a seamless ecosystem from pre-k to post-secondary. It is important and exciting.
Mr. Don Soifer agreed with virtually everything that has been said. What has stood out most to him was that the statement of need was compelling. The school has very specific and ambitious goals, and how will these be translated into an evaluation mechanism for the PMF.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that we are currently developing an adult education PMF and we are researching the best way to do this.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved to approve the application with conditions outlined by Staff. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the DC Flex Public Charter School be denied.
While the petition established a strong case for the need for a blended-learning program in the District, the founding group did not demonstrate the capacity to design and implement a program serving elementary, middle, and high school students in a blended-learning environment. The founding group identified the management company K12 to provide the curriculum and virtual instruction. K12 has mixed results for its existing blended-learning and virtual public schools, which typically do not serve high percentages of at-risk students, such as English language learners, students with disabilities, homeless students, and students receiving free or reduced price meals. The founding group failed to address how they would offer additional support to these at-risk populations so they could be successful at their school. Furthermore, the interview revealed an inequity between the role of the Board and the K12management company; this concern extends to both budgetary constraints and uncertainty in the ability of the founding group to independently oversee and monitor the performance of K12 as a management organization. The founding group did not present a contingency plan for management services and curricula if they were dissatisfied with the K12 management company. Finally, the founding group did not show a full understanding of the Flex school model that K12 runs in other states and that was mentioned in the application.
Mr. Skip McKoy was excited by the potential of this proposal and said that we really want to encourage that mode of instruction to come to the District, but he was disappointed that this application was not yet at the quality for approval.
Dr. Darren Woodruff agreed and said that what was concerning for him was the grade scope from K-12. To serve those grades you would need a stronger curriculum than what was offered in their application.
Mr. Brian Jones added the situation between the schools board and the management company. It’s an issue that this Board has faced before. We grant a charter to a non-profit entity that is responsible. It’s important for us to know that at the end of the day that it is that Board that knows how to evaluate the work of the third party entity. At the end of the day he has to know that it is the board that is in the driver’s seat and not the management company.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved to deny request for charter, and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux added that the conditions she read for Community College previously are not all of the conditions that PCSB has set.
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the FLOW Public Charter School be denied.
The target population for this adult school includes students who have been unsuccessful in school and who are searching for careers. However, the application does not clearly outline methods to meet the academic needs of these students, especially those with disabilities or who are English language learners. The educational plan does not contain the basic components of an academic program including goals and objectives, curricula, and assessments aligned to academic learning standards. The proposed school also does not have a non-profit status and, in the interview, the panel stated that they did not see the urgency in obtaining one. The budget raises concerns as they have included the facilities allowance but plan to operate at least part of their program as a virtual school and 92% of the entire budget is allocated for staff salaries, which is higher than PCSB recommends.
Mr. Don Soifer said that he thinks that the school’s recommendation was on target and that the group’s assessment of need was not clear. He did not get a sense that during the reading of the application and subsequent discussions that this group had what it took to succeed.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that she thinks that the target population is one that we want providers to think about, but we are looking for academic framework, rigor, and metrics for success, and that was not clearly expressed.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that if the group comes back to Staff to see what their application lacked, that they spend some time looking at their budget.
Mr. Brian Jones added that every applicant group will receive a decision letter that details the reason for the Board’s decision.
Mr. Don Soifer moved a motion to deny and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Staff recommends that the Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School be approved with conditions.
Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School has shown the capacity to implement a comprehensive educational model that has both strong academic and non- academic components including 21st Century learning skills, early literacy, and blended-learning. Additional aspects of their educational plan that have had proven success in other schools are well thought-out academic interventions and enrichment, before and after school services, extended school day and year, and data-driven instruction. The founding group has most of the necessary expertise to lead the academic components of an elementary school and they have the support of peers, community members, and respected educational entities; however, there are aspects of the application that need to be strengthened for the staff to recommend granting full approval. Some of the conditions Ingenuity Prep PCS must meet include, establishing a governing board and a school leadership team with early childhood and operational experience; acquiring a facility; developing the early childhood curriculum; and establishing a timeline for the development of curricula for subsequent grades, including the 21st Century Content and Civic Leadership which were described in the application as mission specific programs.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that one thing she wanted to say that she thinks that it is a good thing that we are putting conditions on the schools that we are approving. She was also impressed by the experience of this group and the amount of time they took to go into other schools for guidance, feedback and mentorship.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that in the case of this group they spent an appropriate amount of time looking at blended learning.
Dr. Darren Woodruff added that it was an enjoyable application to read and that he is also excited about the potential and promise of blended learning. He is interested in the civics component and the school’s proposed location. It is encouraging to see applications that are seeking to operate in some of the city’s most high-need areas.
Mr. Don Soifer agreed that this was one of the strongest applications that he has read. He agrees with Ms. Emily Bloomfield that it is the right thing to do to approve with conditions. It is this Board’s best tool to moving forward on an application that we have great faith in.
Mr. Brian Jones concurred with everything that has been said. This group struck him as one that did a great deal of homework. What we are authorizing here are start-up enterprises. When we entrust the taxpayers capital what is important to him is the quality of the team that is going to implement this on the ground.
Mr. Skip McKoy moved for approval and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the Lee Montessori Public Charter School be denied.
The Lee Montessori petition, based on the written application and interviews, does not meet the standards for approval. While the applicant group was able to both demonstrate the need for a public Montessori school in D.C. and articulate an understanding of Montessori principles and curricula, they lacked experience running non-profits and managing staff, essential components of successful public charter schools. This lack of operational knowledge was clear in their incomplete business and operations plans and their budget, which was incorrectly put together. If the applicant group wishes to re-apply in the future, it should expand the founding group to include members with business and managerial experience and substantially revise the application.
Mr. Don Soifer concurred with the Staff analysis. This is not the rejection of another Montessori school in the District. It was just that this application had significant problems.
Mr. Don Soifer moved the motion to deny and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Overall, the MaiAngel charter application does not meet the standards for approval.
The applicants have proposed an alternative competency-based education program designed to address the learning needs of at-risk, disconnected youth ages 16 to 21. However, neither the program’s goals nor their exit outcomes are clearly explained; i.e. it is unclear whether they ultimately wish to operate an adult education, alternative education, or a high school. To support the high school diploma objective, the school plans to engage Diploma Plus to develop and implement a highly individualized blended-learning, performance-based curriculum. However, the performance of schools that use the Diploma Plus curriculum varies greatly from school to school with the key factor being its academic leader, which this DC group has yet to identify. The performance outcomes and expectations for the African American population observed in the Baltimore Liberation model were low and the effective achievement of a highly individualized blended-learning approach was not readily apparent during the site visit by the PCSB. PCSB recommends the founding group visit the Liberation Plus model in New York City run by Ms. April Leong and revise and resubmit this very promising proposal.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that he thinks that the quality of this team is inspirational. The proposal addresses a need and that the presenters had an enthusiasm that was obvious. The problem was the lack of educational leadership experience. With some more work they can come back with something that they could look favorably on.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he wants to reiterate his enthusiasm for the population that they are seeking to serve, and that he would encourage this group to look at the successful applications, particularly in curriculum and business to strengthen their application and reapply.
Mr. Don Soifer agreed with Staff and his colleagues. He asked that the group take the feedback the Staff provides and consider it.
Mr. Brian Jones said not to be discouraged. Work with our Staff and that I hope to see you next February.
Mr. Skip McKoy moved a motion to deny, and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
PCSB staff recommends that the application for Sela Public Charter School be accepted with conditions.
The D.C.-based founding group demonstrated that it has not only the necessary experience in language immersion education and non-profit management but also the financial and academic support, through its relationship with the Hebrew Charter Schools Center, to implement its well thought-out charter petition. They clearly show that there is a need for another language immersion public charter school in the District, based on the current oversubscription at language schools, and that a Hebrew language immersion public school will bring a novel and valuable program to all District residents. Their education plan thoroughly describes how they will provide developmentally appropriate academic offerings in dual language immersion to all types of learners—including at-risk students, students with disabilities, and English language learners—underscoring their strong commitment to serve a diverse population from across the city. Additionally, the applicant group has designed a fiscally conservative budget and has positioned themselves to have yearly reserves. However, there are aspects of the application that need to be strengthened for the staff to recommend granting full approval. PCSB staff recommends that the founding group be granted a charter for Sela PCS to operate grades Pre-Kindergarten through five, only, and suggest they apply for a charter amendment in a few years to serve middle school grades. Additional conditions include: establishing a DC-based governing board; acquiring a facility; developing curricula and assessments for all grade levels to be served in year one and a timeline for the completion of curricula and assessment for all subsequent grade levels to be served; recruiting a staff able to deliver the dual-language model; and developing a robust recruitment plan, including outreach to the socio-economically, racially, and ethnically diverse target population outlined in their application.
Mr. Brian Jones added that there can always be more conditions than what was read in the Staff recommendation.
Mr. Brian Jones went on to say that this was an inspired and inspiring application. It struck him as a group with a unique vision and exciting to bring to DC an innovative and different model that is at the same time focused on academic rigor and achievement. He was very impressed with the founding team.
Mr. Skip McKoy was impressed by the team and they really thought about the DC population that they will be serving. Yes, their mission is unique but they recognize the type of children that will be coming to this school.
Mr. Don Soifer agreed with his colleagues comments said that it was one of the better applications that he saw.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to approve with conditions and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Somerset Preparatory Academy
PCSB staff recommends that the application for Somerset Preparatory Academy Public Charter School be accepted with conditions.
The proposed school will be supported by Academica and Somerset Inc.; together, these organizations run successful schools in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California and have the resources to support a school in Washington D.C. The academic results of Somerset schools in Florida are consistently strong and include schools with high concentrations of low income, Latino and African American students. According to Florida’s school rating system, of the 23 Somerset campuses, 18 received an A; one received a B; three received a C; and one received a D; the school that received a D rating was in its first year as a Somerset school. However, there are aspects of the application that need to be strengthened for the staff to recommend granting full approval, especially in the design of their high school component. Therefore, PCSB staff recommends that conditional approval be granted for the school to open with grades 6 through 8 in its first year of operation and, after they have demonstrated that they have a fully-developed high school curriculum, they may grow one grade per year thereafter until serving grades 6-12. Some of the other conditions that Somerset PCS must meet before being granted full approval include establishing an independent D.C. governing board that will create impartial contracts with Academica and Somerset that clearly outline their supports; securing a facility; and replicating the entire 6-12 curriculum used in Florida schools, including the summative assessments—such as the PERT and end-of-course exams, data dashboards, interventions, and the other programmatic systems.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked why we are only adding high school grades one year at a time when we’re asking for a full 4 year high school curriculum.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that the group wanted to grow one year at a time.
Mr. Scott Pearson added that there is increasing evidence that schools open one year at a time tend to do better.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that he voted to deny his application last year, but that this was a much stronger application.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that visiting the schools helped to inform the decision making process. She is also excited about bringing the type of exam systems are in place in Florida. For example they use an assessment that assesses college readiness which is different than graduation.
Dr. Darren Woodruff added that we have heard a lot about the need for effective middle and high schools. We’ve been looking at effective charter operators who have a track record of success on this to come operate in the District.
Mr. Don Soifer agreed with the Staff analysis and his colleagues points.
Mr. Brian Jones said that he voted in favor of this application last year, but that this year’s application was a much stronger one. It is a good thing for the families and kids in DC that successful charter operators from around the country find the District an inviting place to be.
Mr. Skip McKoy moved to approve with conditions and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Student Parent Achievement Center of Excellency (SPACE)
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the SPACE Public Charter School be denied.
The petition, based on the written application, interview, and due diligence does not meet the standards for approval for several reasons, but most importantly, the founding group could not clearly explain how its proposed Arab language immersion program met the principles of total language immersion, which requires that academic content be delivered in the second language. The program, as described, made no distinction between Arab language instruction, used when teaching a second language, and content area instruction delivered in Arabic, which is the crux of a language immersion program. The basis for their language immersion program for students in grades 2 and higher is the Rosetta Stone Language Program. This is not a language immersion tool, but a program to learn a second language, usually used for older students and adults. Furthermore, none of the founding group members have extensive and relevant experience with language immersion or primary education. The applicants are not knowledgeable about the requirements in the School Reform Act in that they propose to offer a separate fee-based pre-school and childcare program in which the students, without going through the application process, will feed into the kindergarten program, the initial grade offered for the proposed school. The proposed school’s budget will not meet the school’s programmatic requirements. For example, there is no line item for the Saturday Academy, which is an integral part of the program. The school plans to recruit highly qualified teachers who are dually certified either in elementary education or a related discipline, as well as special education or English as a Second Language, yet the average teacher’s salary is budgeted for well below average for the DC metro area.
Mr. Skip McKoy said that the mission and vision of this group were pretty exciting, but unfortunately the details did not match the excitement. He agrees with the Staff critique.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield added that she thinks that the Staff did a good job on the areas of the need. There should be more on children with special needs and English language learners.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to deny, and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the Washington Day Public Charter School be denied.
Washington Day Public Charter School’s application lacked clarity, consistency and coherency. Most notably, the Executive Summary did not mention the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which the founding group describes as a fundamental component of their school. Other mission-critical components were not mentioned during the interview or were mentioned in some sections of the application but not others or were not described in enough detail to fully understand. The application was replete with typographical, syntax, and grammatical errors. These inconsistencies and errors, along with concerns about the founding group’s track record at Public Charter Schools, hindered staff from fully understanding the proposed school’s educational program and raised the question of whether the school would be run professionally.
Mr. Brian Jones said that his sense was that the Staff analysis was accurate and that this application hit far from the mark.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to deny and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Washington DC Clean Energy
PCSB staff recommends that the application for the Washington DC Clean Energy Adult Public Charter School be denied.
While the founding group provided sufficient explanation of its proposed clean energy program and for the need of this type of vocational education for District of Columbia residents, it did not give sufficient evidence that, upon completion, Washington DC Clean Energy students would find local apprenticeships and/or get national certification. The application also lacked a description of a comprehensive GED program. In contrast to the flexible schedule that was developed for the clean energy career courses, which span days, nights, and weekends, no GED evening courses are offered, hindering accessibility for adult learners who have daytime jobs. The application lacked an educational plan for addressing the needs of all types of learners and skill levels. This is most apparent in the applicant group’s decision not to allocate funds in the budget or develop a plan to serve English language learners during their first five years of operation. Instead, their program focuses on serving students with a high-intermediate level of literacy, not those students who may be significantly below grade level, which is in violation of the School Reform Act. Finally, the salaries for the GED teachers outlined in the budget are low for full-time teachers with Bachelor’s degrees.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that she thinks that Staff did an excellent job summarizing concerns. She feels that this is a group of students that we want to offer more providers and that serving ESL and SPED students is a legal and moral obligation.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to deny and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brian Jones entered Ms. Sara Mead’s aye vote by proxy.
Meeting adjourned at 9:08pm