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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Requests for Major Amendments

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
December 10, 2010

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Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.11(1), the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. This year we received requests from seven existing schools for increases in their maximum enrollment and, in some cases, increases in their grades served. This high level of interest is due in part to the amendments to the charter school statute enacted last winter (through Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010) that increased the number of seats available in the lowest performing districts. I am enclosing a chart prepared by our School Finance office, estimating the number of new seats made available under the new law. The number of available seats can change over time, due to changes in the host district's spending and enrollment, so we will update this chart in February 2011 prior to your decisions on new charter applications.

  • I am recommending approval of the expansion request from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School, and I am recommending partial approval of the expansion request from the KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School. These requests are described in detail below, in preparation for a discussion and vote on these requests at the December 21 meeting.
  • I am deferring action on the expansion requests from the Conservatory Lab, MATCH, and Roxbury Preparatory charter schools, all of which are located in Boston. These three requests, along with the 12 applications for new Commonwealth charter schools in Boston, far exceed the number of available seats, even with the lifting of the enrollment cap. These expansion requests need to be evaluated in comparison with the requests for new schools, and we need additional time to complete that analysis.
  • I am not recommending expansion requests from the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School and the Holyoke Community Charter School. No Board action is required at this time, although if either school chooses to appeal my recommendation, the matter will come before you at a future Board meeting.

Lawrence Family Development Charter School

The board of trustees of the Lawrence Family Development Charter School (LFDCS) requests approval for a charter amendment to increase the school's maximum enrollment from 600 to 800 students, beginning in FY12. LFDCS opened in 1995 and was renewed in 2000, 2005, and 2010. The school serves students from Lawrence.

The school's board requests an amendment because they report that a significant number of families wish to enroll their children in this school. The board of trustees also states that they are specifically responding to a request from the School Site Council speaking on behalf of the broader parent community in Lawrence. Pre-enrollment data indicate a waiting list of 873 students. The proposed plan is deliberate and follows a slow growth model. It increases 20 students per year in K1, adding one classroom per year, and the school's enrollment is projected to reach 800 students by FY21. A copy of the school's request is attached.

LFDCS - Accountability Status:
2010 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Data - Summary
  NCLB Accountability Status Performance Rating Improvement Rating
English Language Arts No Status High No Change
Mathematics No Status Moderate On Target


Adequate Yearly Progress History
20032004200520062007200820092010
ELAAggregateYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNo
All SubgroupsYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
MATHAggregateNoYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
All SubgroupsNoYesYesYesYesYesNoYes


2010 MCAS Student Performance Report:
 CPIMedian SGP% At/Above
Proficient
Included in
SGP
All Grades - English Language Arts81.351.556164
All Grades - Mathematics79.169.055272

The superintendent of the Lawrence Public Schools was invited to submit comments on the school's request. No comments were received.

Given the school's solid academic performance and evidence of additional parental demand, I recommend that the Board approve the requested increase of 200 students. A sufficient number of seats are available in Lawrence under the original 9% spending cap, so a proven provider determination is not needed. A motion for approval is attached for your consideration.

KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School

The board of trustees of KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School (KAL) requests approval for a charter amendment to increase the school's maximum enrollment from 750 to 1490 students, an increase of 740 students. KAL also requests approval to change the school's grade span from 5-12 to K-12. The K-4 program would begin in September 2012. The school opened in 2004 and was renewed in 2009. KAL serves students from Lynn. A copy of the school's request is attached.



KAL - Accountability Status:
2010 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Data - Summary
 NCLB Accountability StatusPerformance RatingImprovement Rating
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTSNo Status HighDeclined
MATHEMATICSImprovement Year 1 - SubgroupsHighDeclined


Adequate Yearly Progress History
20032004200520062007200820092010
ELAAggregate----YesYesYesNo
All Subgroups----YesYesYesNo
MATHAggregate---YesYesYesYesNo
All Subgroups---YesYesYesNoNo 


2010 MCAS Student Performance Report:
 CPIMedian SGP% At/Above
Proficient
Included in
SGP
All Grades - English Language Arts86.255.067319
All Grades - Mathematics82.151.063322

The superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools was invited to submit comments on the school's request. Her comments are attached.

KAL has a solid record of academic achievement. The school's board requested a charter amendment last year to increase the school's maximum enrollment from 320 to 850 students and to add a high school (grades 9-12) to their original grade 5-8 configuration. The Board approved an increase to 750, along with the addition of grades 9-12. The high school program is still being implemented. In addition, the school's trustees have submitted an application for a new K-8 Commonwealth charter school to be located in Boston. Although no determination has yet been made on the new school application, it has priority status under the new charter school statute because it would result in a network serving more than one municipality.

The raising of the charter school enrollment cap authorized by the new statute has made thousands of additional seats available. I believe this expansion should take place with deliberate speed but not with haste. We need to be sure there is sufficient leadership capacity to both manage the existing schools and implement these ambitious expansion plans. In the case of KIPP Academy, the already-approved plans to add a high school in Lynn and the pending proposal for a new K-8 Boston school represent a significant challenge. As a result, I am not prepared at this time to recommend approval of grades K-4 for the Lynn school. This decision does not preclude the school from returning with this request at some point in the future. I do, however, wish to recommend at this time an increase in the school's maximum enrollment from 750 to 850. The school's original request to add grades 9-12 anticipated an increase to 850 students. When the Board approved that expansion last year, we were able to increase the enrollment only to 750 because of the net school spending cap. The increase in the cap under the new statute makes it possible at this point to provide the additional 100 seats that were denied last year. A motion for approval of these additional seats is attached for your consideration.

If you have any questions regarding these amendments or require additional information, please contact me or Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson.

Attachments:

Download PDF Document  Download MS EXCEL Document
Charter school enrollment cap analysis
Correspondence from Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Motion for Board action on Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Correspondence from KIPP Academy Lynn
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Correspondence from Lynn Superintendent of Schools
Motion for Board action on KIPP Academy Lynn


Last Updated: December 13, 2010
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