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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Report on Conditions for New Heights Charter School of Brockton

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
February 17, 2017

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At its meeting in February 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) voted to award a charter to the board of trustees of the New Heights Charter School of Brockton (NHCSB), a Commonwealth charter school chartered to serve the region of Brockton, Randolph, and Taunton. At the time of charter award, the Board also placed a condition on the charter of NHCSB related to the provision of transportation for Taunton and Randolph residents. I recommend that the Board remove the condition from the school's charter because the school has met the condition.

This memorandum describes the condition on NHCSB's charter imposed at the time of charter award and outlines how the school has met the condition. For your information, this memorandum also reports on six additional conditions that I placed upon the school during its preparation to open in the fall of 2016. I have removed the six conditions I imposed on the school's charter in September 2016. NHCSB met each of the six conditions by December 2016, including establishing the school in Brockton prior to January 3, 2017.

New Heights Charter School of Brockton
Type of Charter
(Commonwealth or Horace Mann)
Commonwealth LocationBrockton (as of December 12, 2016)
Regional or Non-Regional?Regional Districts in Region
(if applicable)
Brockton, Randolph, and Taunton
Year Opened2016 Year(s) RenewedN/A
Maximum Enrollment735 Current Enrollment3131
Grade Span in Charter6-12 Current Grade Span6-8
Students on Waitlist1722 Current Age of SchoolNA
Mission Statement
Our mission is to prepare our students for college. Period.
NHCSB is working with KnowledgeWorks (formerly EDWorks) and Massasoit Community College to establish an early college school to support students in obtaining up to 60 hours of college credit before high school graduation.

Recommendation to Remove Condition Imposed by the Board

In February 2016 the Board imposed the following condition upon NHCSB's charter:

Condition: No later than July 2016, the school will develop and submit to the Department a plan to provide transportation to students from Randolph and Taunton.3

Status: Met
During the opening procedures process, the school developed, and submitted to the Department on May 25, 2016, a transportation plan for residents of Randolph and Taunton. During the current year, the school's first year of operation, the school is funding all transportation services for students enrolled at the school who are residents of Randolph and Taunton, approximately 16 percent of the current student population. The school has committed to provide transportation services to residents of Randolph and Taunton in future school years. Students from Brockton receive transportation from Brockton Public Schools in accordance with the district's transportation policy. As enrollment increases at the school, the school will review the financial sustainability of the transportation services provided to residents of Taunton and Randolph, and will continue to make adjustments to the number of buses and bus routes.

Based upon the evidence presented above, I recommend the Board vote to remove the condition. A motion is attached for your consideration.

Conditions Imposed and Removed by Commissioner Action

During the school's opening procedures process, obstacles related to facilities required NHCSB to seek a temporary school location outside of Brockton. On September 2, 2016, I approved a temporary location for the school in Norwood, outside of its charter region. I also placed six more conditions on the school's charter and required NHCSB to establish the school in Brockton by January 3, 2017. I informed the Board of my action to approve the temporary location and to place conditions on the school's charter on September 2. The school has met all six conditions, as follows, and I have removed them from the school's charter:

Condition 1: The school will establish occupancy in Brockton no later than January 3, 2017.

Status: Met
The school began operations at 1690 Main Street, Brockton, on Monday, December 12, 2016. Prior to opening in Brockton, the school received the necessary approvals from the Brockton Zoning Board, the Brockton Building Department, and the Board of Health to occupy its location in Brockton. The school provided copies of all necessary certificates as described in the Department's Opening Procedures Handbook.

Condition 2: Because the first day of school is now September 8, 2016, the school will provide an option for child care on September 6 and 7 to families of enrolled students free of charge, and will notify the families about the child care option no later than 6:00 P.M. on Friday, September 2, 2016.

Status: Met
The school notified families as required and provided child care services for full days on Tuesday, September 6, and Wednesday, September 7, for 14 and 13 children, respectively.

Condition 3: For each of the first seven days of school, the school will provide the Department with the total number of students in attendance, and the total number of students on the waitlist. Thereafter, until further notice, the school will provide weekly updates to the Department of these student enrollment counts, by close of business on Friday of each week. The school must maintain student enrollment levels adequate to provide a strong academic program and financial and organizational viability, as determined by the Department.

Status: Met
The school provided the daily notices as required during the first seven days of school, and continues to provide weekly updates for student enrollment and its waitlist. The school has maintained its enrollment at or near its anticipated enrollment for this year, 315 students. The school has a waitlist for grades 6-8, the grades currently offered by the school.

Condition 4: The school will provide weekly updates to the Department regarding any changes to faculty or other school employees, including new hires and departures, at the school by close of business on Friday of each week.

Status: Met
The school continues to provide updates regarding changes to faculty or other school employees. Since opening in September, 2016, the school experienced four staff departures and increased its number of special education teachers to support the needs of students.

Condition 5: The school will provide monthly financial statements to the Department as will be provided for review by the board of trustees at their monthly meetings. These monthly financial reports take into account all considerations in revenue and expenditures, including lines of credit and fundraising, and inform the determination of the school's financial viability for the 2016-2017 school year.

Status: Met
The school has provided to the Department the financial statements that were provided for review by the board of trustees at their monthly meetings. The school received a grant through the federal charter school program of $400K for fiscal year 2017.

Condition 6: The school will promptly and effectively communicate with the Department regarding any and all significant matters regarding the 1690 Main Street location in Brockton within a reasonable period of time but in any event no later than 48 hours after occurrence. The school must report any and all communications made or received by or on behalf of the school regarding the site. The school must copy the Department on such written communications sent by or on behalf of the school and send the Department a copy of all such written communications received by or on behalf of the school within a reasonable period of time but in any event no later than 48 hours after the communication.

Status: Met
The school has provided ongoing reports and communications regarding the necessary preparations for occupancy in Brockton at the facility located at 1690 Main Street within the timeline specified by the condition. The school kept the Department apprised of all developments related to the improvements and renovations made to the property and related to the zoning process in Brockton.

During the school's opening procedures process, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) closely monitored the school's progress in meeting all requirements for opening and operating a charter school, as well as monitoring the conditions above. The school's launch occurred under challenging circumstances and all stakeholders worked toward opening without lowering expectations for student success. The Department provided robust support and technical assistance throughout the opening procedures process and first months of operation. Department staff will continue to monitor the school's progress, including a full accountability site visit in the upcoming months in accordance with Department protocols for schools in their first year of operation.

In addition, I want to highlight the efforts of Brockton Public Schools to develop an effective relationship with NHCSB. Superintendent Kathleen Smith and members of her team at Brockton Public Schools have been a resource to the administrators at NHCSB and have set an example of how to build cooperative working relationships between districts and charter schools. I applaud Superintendent Smith and her colleagues for their efforts in this area.

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If you have any questions regarding this matter or require additional information, please contact Alison Bagg, Director (781-338-3218); Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner (781-338-3222); or me.

Note:

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Last Updated: February 23, 2017
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