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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Charter Amendment Request of Atlantis Charter School to Increase Maximum Enrollment

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
February 14, 2014

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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. I am recommending approval of the expansion request from Atlantis Charter School (ACS) at this time. The school's request is described in detail below, in preparation for a discussion and vote at your meeting on February 25, 2014.

Atlantis Charter School

The board of trustees of the ACS, serving grades K-8, requests approval for a charter amendment to increase its maximum enrollment by 583 students, from 795 to 1378. A copy of the school's request is attached.

Atlantis Charter School
Type of CharterCommonwealthLocationFall River
Regional or Non-Regional?Non-RegionalDistricts in Region
(if applicable)
NA
Year Opened1995Year(s) Renewed2000, 2005, 2010
Maximum Enrollment795Current Enrollment795
Grade Span in CharterK-12Current Grade SpanK-8
Students on Waitlist421Current Age of School18 years
Mission Statement:
"The mission of ACS is to provide an education second to none, yielding academic excellence and life-long learning skills. Atlantis Charter School, an independent public school, provides an educational choice to the families of Greater Fall River by offering a solid academic foundation to its students on which to build a successful future. We expect an equal partnership among parents, community, faculty, staff, and students to create a safe, caring, innovative, and progressive learning environment. Atlantis incorporates the best research-based practices in education to meet the needs of our student population. It is our intent to become a model of educational excellence."

An increase in ACS' enrollment will allow the school to implement the K-12 grade span in its charter. At its 2005 renewal, the school was placed on conditions related to any future implementation of grades 9-12. In its amendment request, supporting documentation, and its performance over the present charter term, the school has adequately addressed the conditions imposed on its charter, including issues around facilities planning, staffing and budget projections, curriculum development, and a growth plan. The conditions previously imposed were as follows:

These terms must be met to the Commissioner's satisfaction and approval at least six months prior to recruiting and enrolling students for a high school program. The academic program of Atlantis Charter School will be limited to Kindergarten through Grade 8 until such time the school can show conclusive evidence of:

  1. Progress toward meeting Accountability Plan goals in the three areas of charter school accountability for the existing Kindergarten through Grade 8 program;
  2. Acquisition of the facilities adequate for a high school program;
  3. Adequate staffing and budget projections to support a high school program;
  4. A realistic plan for enrolling students in grades 9 through 12 within the school's current enrollment cap or a request for an amendment to increase the school's enrollment cap that is approved by the Board of Education;
  5. A fully articulated high school curriculum that is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, builds on the school's existing K-8 program, and is consistent with the school's mission; and
  6. Accountability Plan goals, approved by the Charter School Office, in the three areas of charter school accountability for a high school program.

The school plans to implement the high school program starting in 2015-2016 by offering grade 9 to its existing eighth graders and adding a new grade each year over a four-year period. ACS also plans to enroll more students by adding one section in grades K-4 over three years, beginning in 2014-2015. The school has committed to filling vacancies by enrolling new students through grade 10.

ACS achieved Level 1 status in both 2012 and 2013; and exceeded proficiency gap narrowing targets (Composite Performance Index) both years in the aggregate and in the high needs student subgroup. The school has not exceeded proficiency gap narrowing targets for students with disabilities in either year. Additionally, while ACS enrolls a total student population with lower than expected proportions of English language learners and students with disabilities than the Fall River Public Schools, the school has reported that at entry points in kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 5, student enrollment in both groups provides evidence of growing comparability with the sending district. A copy of the school's documentation is attached.

In a review of the school's performance against the criteria described in 603 CMR 1.05(2), I have determined that the board of trustees of ACS is a proven provider. A copy of the Department's Proven Provider Analysis Summary is attached. Proven provider status is required for consideration of the school's request because Fall River has been identified as a district performing in the lowest 10 percent of all statewide student MCAS performance scores based on the most recent two consecutive school years. Granting this amendment request and pending charter applications would cause the charter school enrollment of Fall River residents to exceed the 9 percent net school spending cap. Information about the pending charter applications for Fall River is included under separate cover for discussion at your meeting.

The superintendent of the Fall River Public Schools was invited to submit comment on the school's request but no comment was received. The Department has received public comment in support of the school's amendment request from Senator Michael Rodrigues, Representative Patricia Haddad, Representative Carole Fiola, and Fall River Mayor William Flanagan, as well as members of the Fall River business community. ACS submitted parent survey results that provided evidence of strong support for the school's proposed expansion and implementation of a high school.

We have reviewed this request and it appears reasonable and consistent with the charter school statute and regulations. The Department's review of 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 is attached. Given the charter school's continued solid academic performance, including its Level 1 status for two years; and the charter school's compliance with applicable state, federal, and local law, I recommend that the Board approve the school's request. A motion for approval is attached for your consideration.

Determination Regarding Other Amendment Requests

As I have notified the Board in a separate memo, due to my intended action regarding KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School's (KALCS) renewal with proposed conditions in the areas of faithfulness to charter and governance, I am not recommending the charter amendment request of KALCS at this time.

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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.

Attachments:

View HTML Page
Correspondence from Atlantis Charter School
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Atlantis Charter School Amendment Request Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Atlantis Charter School Proven Provider Analysis Summary
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Atlantis Charter School Selected Student Enrollment Demographics, Student Attrition Rates, Selected Academic Performance Data, and Five Year Financial Summary
 
Motion for Board action on Atlantis Charter School


Last Updated: February 20, 2014
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