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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Recommendations for the Award of New Charters

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:February 18, 2010

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In this charter school application cycle, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) received fourteen prospectuses in August 2009. Following a review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, eight applicant groups were invited to submit final applications. Two subsequently withdrew from the process. The six final applications that were considered are:

Discovery Charter School of Sustainability, serving students in grades K-6 from Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill-Montague, Greenfield, Hawlemont, Leverett, Mohawk, Orange, Pioneer Valley, Rowe, Shutesbury, Sunderland, and Whately. Maximum enrollment: 260.

Hanlin International Academy Charter School, serving students in grades 6-12 in Quincy. Maximum enrollment: 308.

Leaders of Tomorrow Charter Public School, serving students in grades 6-8 in Worcester. Maximum enrollment: 270.

Lynn Preparatory Charter School, serving students in grades K-8 in Lynn. Maximum enrollment: 250.

Road to Success Charter High School, serving students in grades 9-12 in Lynn, Peabody, and Salem. Maximum enrollment: 400.

Spirit of Knowledge Academy Charter School, serving students in grades 7-12 in Worcester. Maximum enrollment: 275.

The Department's Charter School Office conducted a multi-step review of the final applications. The goal in this process is to identify those applicant groups that demonstrate the greatest potential for creating successful, high quality public schools. The review process included the following:

  • Each application was reviewed by an advisory panel that included both Department staff and external reviewers. Panel members individually reviewed each application based on the published evaluation criteria, and then the entire panel met to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each application and suggest questions for the interview with the applicant group.
  • Five public hearings were held in the districts where the proposed charter schools would be located. There was at least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) in attendance at each hearing. Written comments from the public were solicited at each of the hearings and through the Department's website. The superintendent and school committee in each proposed district also received a copy of the relevant applications and were invited to comment. All written public comments, along with the audio files from the public hearings, have been compiled onto computer DVD disks and are available upon request.
  • Interviews were conducted with members of the founding groups and proposed boards of trustees, focusing on the concerns and questions raised in the panel review and public hearings.
  • Department staff prepared, for the Commissioner's review a comprehensive, a criteria-based summary of the primary strengths and weaknesses of each proposed application and suggested which applications were strong and should be considered for the award of a charter, which applications had significant weaknesses and were not strong enough to warrant the award of a charter this year, and which applications had potential but also some weaknesses that warranted further discussion.

After a careful review of the results of this process, I have decided to recommend that the Board vote to award the following charters:

Lynn Preparatory Charter School
Location:Lynn
Number of Students:250
Grade Level:K-8
Opening Year:2010

Spirit of Knowledge Academy Charter School
Location:Worcester
Number of Students:275
Grade Level:7-12
Opening Year:2010

Based on an analysis of net school spending (NSS) under the 9% cap, more than 500 charter school seats are available in the Lynn school district, which is sufficient to allow for the 250 seats requested by the Lynn Preparatory Charter School. Approximately 359 charter school seats are available in the Worcester school district under the 9% cap, which is sufficient to allow for the 275 seats requested by the Spirit of Knowledge Academy Charter School.

Based on an analysis of 2009 English language arts and mathematics MCAS scores, Lynn's composite performance index is 71.7 and Worcester's is 70.9. Each is below the statewide average of 83.0.

While all applications have strengths and weakness, I have evaluated these two proposals and determined that each one substantially meets the Department's criteria. I also reviewed these applications through the lens of our charter school accountability framework: the potential success of the academic program; the potential viability of the organization; and the potential faithfulness to the terms of the charter. I believe that these two proposed schools have the potential to help close the achievement gap and to improve public education in Massachusetts.

As a result of the review process, I determined that the four remaining proposals need further development and revision with respect to a substantial portion of the criteria. I encourage these groups to consider reapplying during next year's application cycle. Each of these applicant groups will be offered an opportunity to receive feedback on their application from Charter School Office staff.

Accompanying this memorandum you will receive, for each of the six applications: an executive summary, a list of founders and proposed boards of trustees, a comprehensive written summary of the primary strengths and weaknesses based on criteria, a detailed summary of each interview, and copies of the written comments from public officials. Your packet also includes a detailed description of the final application review process and criteria for review, a list of internal and external reviewers, the schedule of public hearings, and the staff's memorandum to me transmitting their analysis and recommendations. The full application is also provided for the schools I am recommending for chartering. The complete package of information being provided to you complies fully with the new requirements of the recently signed education reform law (Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010).

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner, at 781 338-6500; Mary Street, Director of Charter Schools, at 781 338-3200; or me.

Attachments:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Final application review process and criteria for review
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
List of prospectus and final application reviewers
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Schedule of public hearings
Transmittal memorandum

Information on each final application:

Lynn Preparatory Charter School

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials

Spirit of Knowledge Charter School

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials

Discovery Charter School of Sustainability

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials

Hanlin International Academy Charter School

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials

Leaders of Tomorrow Charter School

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials

Road to Success Charter High School

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Founders and Proposed Board of Trustees
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Comprehensive Written Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Interview Summary
 
Copies of Public Comment Received from Public Officials


Last Updated: February 22, 2010
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