DC Public Charter School Board
Board Meeting Minutes
3333 14th St, NW
Washington, DC 20010
Board Members in attendance: Mr. Brian Jones (Chair); Mr. John “Skip” McKoy; Mr. Don Soifer; Dr. Darren Woodruff; Ms. Emily Bloomfield; Ms. Sara Mead; Mr. Scott Pearson (ex-officio)
Mr. Brian Jones called the public hearing to order at 7:41pm
Request for Charter Amendment and Enrollment Ceiling Increase- Bridges Public Charter School
Representatives- Olivia Smith, Founder and Principal; Patrick Shaw, Assistant Principal, Betsy Centofanti, Board Member, Brian Patten, Consultant to Bridges.
Mr. Clarence Parks from Staff introduced Bridges Public Charter School’s request to amend their charter to increase their current enrollment ceiling and grades served from PS-PK to PS-5 before the Board.
Mr. Brian Jones asked the representatives from the school if they wanted to add anything to what Mr. Parks had stated.
Ms. Olivia Smith said that in their proposed expansion that they are working on moving their mission forward and taking on all students who come to them. They believe the expansion would be similar to their current program and that historically Bridges PCS has served many students with special needs.
Mr. Patrick Shaw spoke about the curricula and informed the Board of the assessments that the school currently uses.
Ms. Betsy Centofanti said that this is not just a whim of the administration, it has the full support of the board of trustees and that over the last year they have conducted an eight-month study on whether they should expand and how they should expand. Their study team consisted of two outside consultants.
Mr. Brian Patten gave an assessment on the fiscal and economic conditions of the school and stated that they will be working with Building Hope upon approval of the process to find a facilities situation.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if the amendment request requires that the school to take on $7.5 million in loans.
Mr. Brian Patten Brian answered that the number is what they used in their model and that it would not be taken on immediately but be brought up down the road.
Mr. Don Soifer asked how they would work in a temporary facility.
Ms. Olivia Smith said that for two years they can work in their current location or move into the facility next door.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that the request is to go from the current preschool/pre-k model to fifth grade. He said that is a qualitative shift in the type of program that they want to offer.
Ms. Olivia Smith said that we have the expertise in offering that type of program in the form of their current vice principal.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if it is a possible for them to stop at a grade level short of fifth grade.
Ms. Olivia Smith said that it is and that there are some schools in DC that end in third grade, but that is not the intention of their school.
Mr. Skip McKoy wanted clarification on whether all students or some students are receiving data driven instruction.
Mr. Patrick Shaw said that it would be for all students.
Mr. Brian Jones asked them to speak a little bit about moving from a small preschool program to a much larger elementary program.
Ms. Olivia Smith said that in the nature of growing a school you know the students that are coming through you so you understand the challenges. Starting from preschool it would not be as if a student were just dropped in from third grade.
Mr. Scott Pearson wanted to know when the plan to expand to kindergarten would begin.
Ms. Olivia Smith said fall of 2012 with Board approval.
Mr. Scott Pearson wanted to know if after a certain timeframe it would become difficult for the school to start their kindergarten program.
Ms. Olivia Smith that if the Board could vote on this by next month’s meeting it would be beneficial for them to acquire space and proper permitting.
Hearing no other questions, Mr. Brian Jones thanked the representatives from Bridges for coming.
Request for charter continuance, grade expansion and enrollment ceiling increase- Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB) Public Charter School
Representatives: Cristana Encinas, Principal, Diane Cottman; Executive Director; Dick Ertzinger, Chief Financial Officer; Laure Fleming, Assistant Principal
Ms. Theresa Garcia from Staff introduced LAMB PCS’s request for charter continuance, grade expansion, and enrollment ceiling increase before the Board.
Ms. Diane Cottman asked if there are any new questions that the Board might have for them since their appearance at the January 2012 Board meeting.
Mr. Brian Jones congratulated them for their Tier 1 designation under the Performance Management Framework (PMF) and asked them to speak about the proposed grade expansion and how that would affect their approach and culture.
Ms. Diane Cottman said that the school has always had a pyramid shape where it is larger in the primary grades and thins out as the children get older. For this school year they were faced with either freezing enrollment or opening a second campus; they chose the latter.
Their families have asked for quite some time for a middle school but they are not sure that they can do that. They plan on continuing their core program and continuing to study to see how they can make a middle school program possible.
She went on to say that they have also been working with other bilingual charter schools on the possibility of creating a language sensitive middle-high school program since they were accepted for space in the redevelopment of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked when the plan is to start the sixth grade.
Diane Cottman said that at the earliest that would be is in two years.
Ms. Sara Mead asked about the gap between the projection and the outcome on their accountability plan for preschool.
Ms. Laure Flemming said that at the end of the preschool class that they would have mastered 3 letter sounds. About 50% of the students speak the target language of Spanish at home and the other 50% speak other languages, predominantly English. When the teachers tested their mastery of these vowel sounds they learned that the students had trouble with certain vowel sounds due to learning two languages concurrently.
Ms. Sara Mead wanted to see how LAMB PCSwas adjusting to the Taylor Street campus.
Ms. Cristina Encinas said that the students are doing well, the families are happy, and that they have not heard any complaints from the community. They met many of the families of students currently enrolled at the school at the charter school expo.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if there is an expansion into high school in the works.
Ms. Cristina Encinas said no, just middle school.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said would they still only take students who are3-4 years old even when they are running he middle school?
Ms. Diane Cottman said no, that they would have to look at different enrollment models.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if there is any reason why this could not be voted on tonight.
Mr. Brian Jones said no, but that they would want to wait for public comment.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for public comment for the public hearing. Hearing none, he asked for a motion.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to approve LAMB PCS’s request for charter continuance, grade expansion, and enrollment ceiling increase. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Public hearing adjourned at 8:31pm
Mr. Brian Jones called the public meeting to order at 8:34pm.
Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.
Approval of the January Minutes
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the January minutes. The motion was moved, seconded and passed unanimously.
Approval of the Agenda
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the agenda for the evening. The motion was moved, seconded and passed unanimously.
Mr. Brian Jones read the contracts for February 2012 for more than $25,000 that were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.
School Oversight Committee- Candidate for Charter Revocation- Community Academy Public Charter School
Representatives- Kent Amos, Founder; Francis Smith, Board Member; Brenda Bethea, Director of Compliance and Monitoring;Lynn. Cowan, Board Member
Kimberly Worthington from Staff introduced the matter of the possible revocation of Community Academy Public Charter School’s charter before the Board. She detailed the history of the decision, and the desire of the PCSB to close Community Academy PCS’s Rand campus, which, with its poor academic performance, was the reason for possible charter revocation for the LEA, and Community Academy PCS’s decision to move forward with closing their Rand campus. She recommended that PCSB carefully review Community Academy PCS’s closure plan for the Rand campus.
Mr. Brian Jones asked the school for comment.
Mr. Kent Amos said that they have complied with the school closure process and said that they would like to take any questions that the Board might have.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for questions. Hearing none he said that the Board is not voting on the proposal for closure this evening; instead they want to take some time to discuss the process for closure of the Rand campus.
Mr. Kent Amos said that they would like to work with the Board in that spirit.
Mr. Brian Jones said that he agrees and that he wants to make sure that both parties are clear on all of the details of the closure and that he looks forward to a give and take.
Mr. Brian Jones asked Mr. Scott Pearson if we need to vote on closing the Rand Campus.
Mr. Scott Pearson said yes.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to accept the closure of the Rand campus. Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Candidate for Charter Revocation- Integrated Design and Electronic Academy (IDEA) PCS
Representatives: David Owens, Board Member and Chair of the Restructuring Team; Stephen Marcus, Counsel; Josh Kern, Consultant; Col. William Dexter, Deputy Director of School.
Dr. Jackie Boddie from Staff introduced the matter of IDEA PCS’s candidacy for charter revocation, and their proposal to turnaround their school’s performance so as to remain open before the Board.
Mr. David Owens wanted to express his deep appreciation to the Board for considering their comprehensive restructuring plan. He understands that they have a high hurdle to overcome, but believes that they are up for the task.
Mr. Brian Jones thanked IDEA PCS for the work that they have put in on this turnaround.
Ms. Sara Mead wanted to clarify two things in terms of ongoing monitoring. She said that there is a plan for the next few months, but if the school fails to meet any of the items or targets on the timelines that would trigger closure, and that later tonight they would discuss changes to the PMF and that that would apply to the school as well if it goes through.
Dr. Darren Woodruff brought up that if IDEA PCS declines by 5 percentage points on the PMF, they will be in danger of closure and that, in fact, any Tier 3 schools would be in danger of closure.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that she’s seen a lot of improvement and that there seems to be a more formal relationship between Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) Public Charter School and IDEA PCS in terms of commitment.
Mr. Josh Kern said that the relationship is not institutional.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that this timeline goes until July but does that mean that there is no relationship after then?
Mr. David Owens said that by then there will be new leadership and a new board and that he felt it would not be appropriate to discuss plans that far in advance.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if there will be continued technical support.
Mr. David Owens said yes.
Mr. Don Soifer thanked them for their work on the plan. He said that he had questions of capacity and asked if they could speak to their confidence of the cost of the plan and their ability to meet that.
Mr. David Owens said that he recognizes that they have to spend several hundred thousands of dollars, but that will be augmented with internal staff that can work with consultants. Everything is on the table and if they have to make adjustments to staff they will do that. There might have to be some staff cuts.
Mr. Don Soifer said that there are currently two or three individuals responsible for part of the turnaround working on the staff of other schools full time. Can anyone speak to that?
Mr. Josh Kern said that this is similar to when TMA trained staff at other schools on grant processes. He went on to say that the sharing of best practices is what the charter movement was founded on and that thisprocess has been approved by TMA PCS’s Board.
Mr. Skip McKoy moved the motion to forego closure and accept the turnaround plan and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Request to Increase Enrollment Ceiling- Eagle Academy Public Charter School
Representatives: Cassandra Pinkney, Founder and Executive Director; Jeff Smith, CFO/COO
Ms. Carolyn Trice from Staff introduced the matter of the school’s request to increase their enrollment ceiling before the Board.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if there were questions.
Ms. Sara Mead asked about their accountability plan targets and the updated data that theschool submitted to the Board earlier that day. One, when the PMF was published early this year schools were provided an opportunity to correct data, why didn’t you do it then? Second, even with the data, they are still missed two targets.
Ms. Cassandra Pinkney said that they did submit the corrected data, but that it was past the appropriate deadline.
Mr. Jeff Smith said that they knew that they would not make their targets and so they decided not to beat themselves up about that, knowing that their results would be better the next year.
Ms. Sara Mead said that this is the first year that they will have third graders to take the DC CAS, and if they can speak to what will be done to make sure that they are prepared.
Ms. Cassandra Pinkney said that they have hired a consultant, are working on the curriculum, and are working with the parents.
Mr. Jeff Smith made mention about the school having 17 SPED students enrolled.
Dr. DarrenWoodruff said that it is encouraging to hear that the school has so many students with special needs that are being served. He asked if they could elaborate on what is attracting parents to the point that you are oversubscribed?
Ms. Cassandra Pinkney spoke about the parent center, nutrition suggestions to parents, and healthy food and snacks served to students at the school.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked where they draw from their students from.
Ms. Cassandra Pinkney said that 70% come from Ward 8.
Mr. Jeff Smith said that they have many kids exit from SPED status while attending their school, and that they consciously work to be a community school and have their school open to the community.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved to approve the enrollment ceiling increase and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Request to Relocate or Operate in a New Location- Meridian Public Charter School, Mundo Verde Public Charter School, The Next Step Public Charter School
Mr. Brian Jones asked the Board to consider the schools asking to relocate as a block absent an objection.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to grant the request to operate in a new location and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Proposed Notice of Concern- Maya Angelou PCS
Representatives: Milton Shinberg, Architect; Lucretia Murphy, Executive Director; Maggie Kennedy, See Forever Foundation
Ms. Monique Miller from Staff introduced the matter of the school not having a proper Certificate of Occupancy before the Board.
Ms. Lucretia Murphy stated that they are currently sharing a building with a DCPS school and have been working with the city government on a long term lease for their Evans building. They have occupancy but not site control. They hope to have site control by March 6. She discussed the plans that the school hopes to execute with the architect and zoning administrator that would make them completely up to code. She explained that the only reason the school has been prohibited from obtaining a valid Certificate of Occupancy is because they do not have the requisite amount of student parking spots.
Ms. Sara Mead wanted to clarify that the only reason that the school could not obtain a valid Certificate of Occupancy was over student parking.
Ms. Lucretia Murphy said yes.
Ms. Sara Mead asked if there is space for staff parking.
Ms. Lucretia Murphy said no, but they have plenty of street parking and added that they have never had a student drive to school.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that it seems like this issuance of a notice of concern stems mostly from a government regulatory issue and not something that the PCSB should ding them for.
Ms. Lucretia Murphy said that often times it is easier to buy a private building rather than working with the government on one of their buildings.
Mr. Milton Shinberg said that this is not a PCSB issue but a Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issue.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked if they are satisfied that the number of spaces that they are in the process of acquiring would suffice for a Certificate of Occupancy.
Ms. Lucretia Murphy said yes.
Mr. Scott Pearson asked if there was any process in which the fire marshaldeemed this building as safe?
Ms. Lucretia Murphy said yes. They are actually beneath the capacity for what the building can hold. After the earthquake they were ranked as sound.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that if there are situations where we can be an advocate for you to other DC agencies that you should let us know.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if it is not possible for PCSB staff to work to improve this or work as an advocate for schools.
Ms. Sara Mead said that she finds it ridiculous that DC high schools need to have parking spaces for high school teenagers.
School Oversight Committee- Proposed Notice of Concern- Washington Math Science and Technology Public Charter School
Representatives: Enrique Watson, Director of Student Services and Facility Oversight; Jeneen Ramos, Board Chair
Ms. Monique Miller from staff introduced the matter of the school not having a proper Certificate of Occupancy before the Board.
Mr. Enrique Watson did not want to be redundant and repeat what Maya Angelou PCS said, but added that they are looking for an affordable architect.
Ms. Jeneen Ramos said that their current estimate from their architect is $26,000 and that they are looking to lower that cost or get another estimate because that is a significant financial strain on them and asked that PCSB be patient with them.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked if this is something an architectural student could do?
Mr. Enrique Watson said that they may need a licensed architect.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that if this is a problem many of our schools have, can PCSB provide it as a service to them?
Mr. Scott Pearson asked their total enrollment.
Mr. Enrique Watson said it is 351students and 60 staff.
Mr. Brian Jones asked to consider both WMST and Maya Angelou as a bloc.
Ms. Sara Mead said that it is bad for the schools not to have Certificates of Occupancy but that she does not want to ding the schools based on what information was brought to light this evening.
Mr. Scott Pearson said his concern is that a fire happens at a school and that there is a death and the school doesn’t have a Certificate of Occupancy and wondered would it be possible to vote on this a later time?
Mr. Brian Jones agreed and said he would support a motion but that we should work to change this.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that it is a further sense of concern that their enterprise does not have enough cash reserves to pay the architect, especially at an operation of their size.
Ms. Jeneen Ramos said that their school is not yet at where they need to be in terms of operating.
Mr. Don Soifer moved the motion to issue a notice of concern and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. Dr. Darren Woodruffsaid that just for the record, that the Board is interested in working with you to help you. The motion passed unanimously.
Discussion of Proposed Board Policies- Data Policy
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux from Staff introduced the matter of creating a new data policy before the Board. This policy would be available for public comment and proposes to have schools submit into ProActive attendance and disciplinary data on a regimented basis.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if schools would know about this?
Mr. Brian Jones said yes. If we agree to move on this there would be a month of public comment before final approval at the next board meeting.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if the data would be made public?
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said it would be made public to the schools.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that once we are collecting this data, is there something that we are going to do with it?
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that we are planning to use data to drive our decisions here and want to build off the data a system of alerts to make performance officers aware of issues at a school.
Mr. Brian Jones asked what would happen if there are disputes about the data?
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that by having clear deadlines and a shared window that Staff and Schools can resolve issues in a timely fashion rather than after the fact.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if we will incorporate this data into the PMF and into issues with discipline that we know are there.
Dr. Darren Woodruff agreed saying that it speaks to the school climate piece. The PMF does a good job of showing the academic piece, but discipline data would be good for showcasing school climate. As we gather this data we should look into the data on alternatives to suspensions.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux agreed.
Ms. Sara Mead said that in addition to how attendance is reported on the PMF we already provide notices to schools.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that in response to Dr. Darren Woodruff that he is absolutely right about alternatives to suspension and that many of our schools use them and that we should have a sharing session to share those practices.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that we should look at what is a suspension since schools classify it differently.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to enter this policy for public comment.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved to approve and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Discussion of Proposed Board Policies- Revision to PMF Guidelines
Ms. Naomi Devaux from Staff introduced a proposal before the Board that would revise the PMF so that it would make any school that is in Tier 3 for three out of five years rather than three consecutive years as a candidate for charter revocation.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for the rationale for such a change.
Ms. Naomi DeVeaux said that this would be a better way to hold struggling schools accountable rather than having a poor school being saved from closure due to a modest improvement in test scores.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that we would benefit from feedback of hearing about this from schools.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if she could talk about what the public notice period would look like.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that he intends to email these policies to the board leaders for comment. These policies are being tweeted as we speak.
Ms. Sara Mead moved to approve the motion to enter this policy for public comment, and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked if there was anything that was the basis for this change.
Ms. Sara Mead said that it also goes towards pushing back against cheating.
The motion passed unanimously.
A gentleman was unclear on the next steps on the policies moving forward. Will there be another discussion forum to get this news out?
Mr. Scott Pearson said that we would communicate it with whatever medium anyone wanted to communicate with us but we were not planning on having community events around it.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that people can register their thoughts during the public comment at the next meeting.
The same gentleman asked about governance workshops for Boards and if they will be continued.
Mr. Scott Pearson said that they were canceled because other groups offered governance training that were more effective, especially considering the costs that we incurred from them.
Meeting adjourned at 10:08pm