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Charter Schools - Amendment Request of Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School (Grade Span)

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
January 15, 2016

As part of my January 13, 2015 memo to entitled "Renewal of Charters," I notified you that I intend to renew the charter of the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School (BBCPS). Additionally, in August 2015, the board of trustees of BBCPS requested approval to formally add grade PK to the school's currently grade span of serving grades K-6 to better align to the grade configuration of Cambridge Public Schools and to codify a two-year Kindergarten program the school has been implementing. I recommend that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) approve the request for the addition of grade PK.

Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.10(1), the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. There are several criteria that the Commissioner and the Board may consider in reaching a determination regarding a school's request to amend its charter. First, "the Commissioner and the Board may consider a charter school's compliance with applicable state, federal, and local law." 603 CMR 1.10(3). Second, the Commissioner and the Board may consider the evidence regarding the success of the school's academic program, the viability of the school as an organization, and the faithfulness of the school to the terms of its charter.

As required for requests that seek an increase in maximum enrollment or grades served, comment was solicited from the superintendent of the school district in which the charter school is located and from superintendents of districts from which the charter school draws a substantial number of students. The superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools was invited to submit comment on the school's request. No comment was received. Changes to the grades served by a charter school do not require a proven provider determination by the Commissioner.

BBCPS is currently being considered for renewal. The request to formally add PK to the school's charter was embedded within the school's 2015 Application for Renewal. Due to its successful academic performance and organizational viability, I intend to renew the school without conditions. Additional information regarding the school's renewal can be found in the memorandum dated January 13, 2016, entitled "Renewal of Charters - Notification of Intended Actions."

BBCPS has demonstrated high academic success throughout the charter term. Since 2012, BBCPS's MCAS performance has placed the school in Level 1. BBCPS was in the 30th percentile in 2012, the 34th percentile in 2013, the 45th percentile in 2014, and the 62nd percentile in 2015. During each year of the charter term the school met its gap narrowing goals. Additionally, BBCPS was commended for narrowing proficiency gaps in 2012 and 2014 and for high progress in 2015.

2015 PARCC Student Performance Report
 % Level 4 or 5Median SGPCPIIncluded in SGP
English Language Arts
(All Grades)
(All Grades)

2015 MCAS Science and Technology/Engineering Student Performance Report
 % At/Above
Median SGPCPIIncluded in SGP
Science and Technology/
(All Grades)

We have reviewed the request and it is reasonable and consistent with the charter school statute and regulations. The school is not requesting any additional seats and its maximum enrollment will remain the same at 350. Cambridge Public Schools offers a nearly universal PK program and BBCPS will receive tuition for its PK students1. Given the grade level configuration in the Cambridge Public Schools, the charter school's high academic performance, and its compliance with applicable law, I recommend that the Board approve the addition of grade PK to the grades served by BBCPS. This request demonstrates a thoughtful consideration of enrollment patterns and responding to the needs of Cambridge students and families. A motion for approval is attached for your consideration.


If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner, at 781-338-3222; Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner, at 781-338-6500; or me.



Last Updated: January 25, 2016
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