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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Charter Amendment Request of Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School to Increase Maximum Enrollment and Become a Regional Charter School

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
March 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 Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School (BFCCPS) at this time. I indicated to the Board in my December 6, 2013 memorandum regarding charter school amendments that BFCCPS was required to submit additional information to address the Department's concerns before we would consider the school's amendment request. Since then, the school has submitted sufficient additional information regarding its planning and preparations for the proposed expansion to address the Department's concerns adequately. The school's request is described in detail below, in preparation for a discussion and vote at your meeting on March 25, 2014.

Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School

The board of trustees of the BFCCPS, serving grades K-8, requests approval for a charter amendment to increase its maximum enrollment by 450 students, from 450 to 900. BFCCPS also requests to become a regional charter school serving twelve districts in addition to Franklin. These districts include Bellingham, Blackstone/Millville, Holliston, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon/Upton, Milford, Millis, Norfolk, Plainville, Walpole, and Wrentham. A copy of the school's request is attached.

Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School
Type of CharterCommonwealthLocationFranklin
Regional or Non-Regional?Non-RegionalDistricts in Region
(if applicable)
NA
Year Opened 1995Year(s) Renewed2000, 2005, 2010
Maximum Enrollment450Current Enrollment450
Grade Span in CharterK-8Current Grade SpanK-8
Students on Waitlist327Current Age of School18 years
Mission Statement:
"The mission of BFCCPS is to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children by providing the children with a classical academic education coupled with sound character development and community service."

BFCCPS reports that its request was prompted by a multitude of factors, all targeted to improve the educational options offered by the school. The school reports long-standing facility needs not met by the leased space presently in use and has identified advantages that a larger student body and faculty will offer the school, including additional opportunities for teacher collaboration and growth and increased enrichment opportunities for its students in alignment with its mission. The request includes becoming a regional charter school due to the limited number of seats available in Franklin under the 9% net school spending cap. As a regional charter school, there will be sufficient seats across the proposed region to accommodate the maximum enrollment increase, and to provide enrollment preference to residents of surrounding communities where the school reports historical demand.

BFCCPS plans to increase enrollment by 200 students in grades K-4 during the 2015-2016 school year and to continue to grow enrollment over a nine-year period. The proposal will provide adequate additional time for the school to engage in the necessary planning and preparations to implement such a significant expansion. While the school's primary entry point is kindergarten, BFCCPS fills vacancies throughout its K-8 grade span.

BFCCS has consistently high student performance, achieving Level 1 status in both 2012 and 2013; a school percentile of 90 and 89 respectively; and a Progress and Performance Index (PPI) of 100 and 93 in the aggregate. The school was commended in 2012 for high achievement, and selected as a Massachusetts and National School of Character in 2011 by the non-profit Character Education Partnership organization. The school achieved a PPI of 75 in the high needs subgroup (10% of the school population) in 2012. In 2013, the school did not serve a sufficient number of students in the relevant subgroups to allow reporting of the performance of the high needs subgroup.

In comparison to its primary sending district, Franklin Public Schools, BFCCS serves a comparatively higher percentage of students identified as First Language Not English (FLNE), and a lower percentage of students with disabilities and students identified as low income. The school indicates in its request that regionalization will support recruiting a more diverse student population. The school states a commitment to providing regional transportation, to ensure a more diverse student body.

Overall, the submitted amendment request, the school's 2010 renewal, and the Department's accountability records indicate that the school's academic program is a success, that the school is a viable organization, and that it has been faithful to the terms of its charter. The school submitted, at the Department's request, additional information to document sufficient demand and adequate facility planning and preparations. The school also submitted a financial income statement and cash flow projections to address concerns regarding financial shortfalls during the first four years of proposed implementation. A copy of the school's documentation is attached.

The superintendents of all 13 affected districts were invited to submit comment on the school's request. The Department received comment from Superintendent Perry Davis of Blackstone-Millville Regional School District in opposition to the request, citing the district's own concerns around its shrinking enrollment in the lower grades and limited fiscal resources. No other comment was received.

I 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 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.

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:

 
Correspondence from Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School
 
Correspondence from Superintendent of Blackstone-Millville Regional School District
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School Amendment Request Summary
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School Selected Student Enrollment Demographics, Student Attrition Rates, Selected Academic Performance Data, and Five Year Financial Summary
 
Motion for Board Action on Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School


Last Updated: March 20, 2014
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