Charter School Siting in a New York City Department of Education Building: An Overview of the Process Siting, co-locating or growing

a charter school in a DOE building is governed by a number of different legal provisions and involves a complex process. Much of that process is the responsibility of DOE. Nonetheless, charter schools planning on locating inside a DOE building need to understand this siting process, the timing, and how it will impact them. This memo is technical in nature. It is not meant to address two key issues that are just as important as the legal process: First, the way in which charter school teams can engage the community in order, ideally, to have community boards, residents and lawmakers welcome the charter school into a district building. Second, where community engagement is not successful, ways to activate a charter school’s supporters (particularly its parents) to ensure that their side of the story is heard and taken into account during the process. The Charter Center and its partners work with schools to assist them with these two issues.

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THE SITING PROCESS FOR NEW LOCATIONS AND CO-LOCATIONS1
Process Step
1. Public identification of district buildings subject to possible charter school location or co-location 2. Educational Impact Statements

Description
DOE publishes list of all district buildings that are candidates for charter school location or co-location

DOE creates and disseminates Educational Impact Statements describing the proposed school utilization changes and the impact they are expected to have 3. Building Usage Plans DOE creates Building Usage Plans to be included with the Educational Impact Statements, which describe the proposed allocation and sharing of space 4. Joint public hearings at affected 30 to 45 days after posting the Educational Impact Statements, the schools DOE holds a joint public hearing with the community education council and the school leadership team(s) of the affected school(s) 5. Charter school authorizer siting The charter school’s authorizer holds a public meeting for parents and hearings guardians from the school that is affected by the proposed charter school siting (which may or may not be separate from the joint hearing) 6. Public comments and the Panel for The Panel for Educational Policy votes on all new locations and coEducational Policy vote locations after the Educational Impact Statements has been posted on its website and public comment compiled 7. Possible appeal to the Commissioner It is possible to appeal the decision to locate a charter school in a public school building to the Commissioner through an expedited appeal process 8. Shared Space Committee A Shared Space Committee is established, comprised of the principal, a teacher, and a parent from each co-located school 9. Capital improvements A charter school seeking to make any capital improvement or facility upgrade to a public school costing more than $5,000 must receive DOE’s approval and matching funds must be spent on any other DOE school in the building 10. Space Planning and Building After the Panel for Educational Policy approval, the school’s building Councils council meets with the DOE’s Office of Space Planning to assign specific rooms to each school and finalize the shared space plan 11. Expansion of a School that is Already A charter school already co-located in a public school space, but Co-located seeking to expand beyond its original allocated space is subject to a siting process

We do not include in the siting process the separate requirement that DOE hold a hearing prior to the issuance, revision or renewal of a charter. See Education Law § 2857(1). This hearing is generally before the Community Education Council of the Community School District in which the school is located or intends to locate. It is separate and apart from the joint public hearing that is specifically devoted to siting a school in public school space (which is discussed in this memo) and applies to a much broader array of situations by its terms. For new schools, this hearing would precede issuance of a charter. While this hearing is not included in the siting process, it is important to note that where a new school is planning on locating in public school space, this hearing will naturally involve this issue and could be contentious. 2

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1. PUBLIC IDENTIFICATION OF DISTRICT BUILDINGS SUBJECT TO CHARTER SCHOOL LOCATION OR COLOCATION

The first step that DOE must undertake prior to selecting a school building for a charter school siting is to publish a list of all buildings that are candidates for such siting. DOE must provide the rationale for why buildings have been chosen for possible charter school location or co-location. The master list must be posted on the Panel for Educational Policy’s website and also given to the community superintendent, community district education council and the school-based management team of every school on the list. We expect DOE to publish this list in the fall. 2. EDUCATIONAL IMPACT STATEMENT AND ITS DISSEMINATION Once DOE chooses a building off of the master list for an actual proposed co-location, it must create and disseminate an Educational Impact Statement. An Educational Impact Statement must be created for all significant changes in building utilizations (including charter school locations and colocations). The Educational Impact Statement must lay out the proposed school utilization change and describe the impact the change would have.2 It must be publicly posted no later than 6 months before the first day of school (according to the Department of Education calendar, i.e., the first day of school for the non-charter school) in the succeeding year, or by roughly March 1. This means that the DOE cannot propose any new facility usage plans after this date for the next school year. A Building Usage Plan (see below) gets attached as an addendum to any Educational Impact Statement involving the location or the co-location of a charter school with another public school.3 The Educational Impact Statement needs to be circulated to the community superintendent, community education council, community board and school-based management team(s), and, as set forth by the proposed Chancellor’s Regulation A-190, the Citywide Council on High Schools and/or the Citywide Council on Special Education and District 75 Council, as applicable. The community superintendent is responsible for informing parents of the proposed school utilization change and where they can find the Educational Impact Statement. A copy of the statement must also be posted on the Panel for Educational Policy website at least 45 days before its vote.

See §2590-h(2-a) of the Education Law and the proposed Chancellor’s Regulation A-190 for more information on the contents of an Educational Impact Statement. In a recent court case involving Educational Impact Statements created in spring 2010, an appellate court ruled that the Educational Impact Statements must address with some specificity the impact of the change in utilization. A copy of the decision can be found at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_05863.htm The law provides a process for revising the Building Usage Plan and Educational Impact Statement, details on which may be found in the proposed Chancellor’s Regulation A-190; §2590-h(2-a)(d-1) of the Education Law; and §2853(3)(a-3)(4). Revisions to the Building Usage Plan must be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy prior to implementation. 3
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3. BUILDING USAGE PLAN When dealing with the location or co-location of a charter school in a DOE facility, which houses one or more non-charter schools, the DOE must also create a space sharing plan that is known as the Building Usage Plan. The law requires the Building Usage Plan to include and address: o Actual allocation and sharing of classroom and administrative space between the schools o Proposal for collaborative usage of shared resources and spaces, including cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums and recreational spaces o Justification of the feasibility of the proposed allocations o Building safety and security o Communication and collaborative decision-making strategies to be used by the co-located schools The allocations for classroom and administrative space will be made pursuant to the Citywide Instructional Footprint4 that DOE uses in all co-location decisions (charter and non-charter). As stated above, the Building Usage Plan becomes part of the Educational Impact Statement and both it and the Educational Impact Statement must be posted at least 45 days prior to the Panel for Educational Policy vote. The template for the Building Usage Plan can be found as an appendix to the proposed Chancellor’s Regulation A-190. 4. JOINT PUBLIC HEARINGS Between 30 to 45 days after the Educational Impact Statement is publicly posted, the DOE must hold a joint public hearing with the community education council and the school leadership team(s) of the affected school(s). Notice must be specifically given to parents, students, the community board, and the district’s elected state and local officials. This meeting must take place before the Panel for Education Policy can vote on the proposed siting. In general, the DOE will ask the charter school leadership team to present at this hearing. The charter school is well-advised to have parents and other supporters attend this hearing. 5. CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZER SITING HEARINGS In addition to the joint public hearing, a charter school’s authorizer must also hold a public hearing before a NYC charter school goes into public space. The meeting notice must be sent to the parents or guardians of students at the affected school(s) and parents must be given the opportunity to comment at the meeting. At this time, it is unclear whether SED and SUNY will hold these hearings separately or concurrently with the joint public hearing that is described above.

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DOE Instructional footprint can be found at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/682FC26A-6B81-476A-BD6A333CBBDC7BB3/44569/NYCDOE_Instructional_Footprint1.pdf 4

6. PUBLIC COMMENTS AND THE PANEL FOR EDUCATIONAL POLICY VOTE The Panel for Educational Policy must vote on all new locations and co-locations (as well as other significant changes to building utilization). As above, the Educational Impact Statement (containing the Building Usage Plan) must have been posted and disseminated at least 45 days prior to a Panel vote and the Panel for Educational Policy must provide notice of its intent to take up the matter. The DOE must also post the Educational Impact Statement on its website for public comment and compile the public comment it has received prior to the vote. Notice of the upcoming vote must be circulated to the community superintendent, the community education council, the community board, and all school-based management team(s). The vote needs to take place at one of the Panel for Educational Policy’s regular monthly public meetings. No approved school building utilization changes (including locations and co-locations) can take place until the school year has ended. 7. POSSIBLE APPEAL TO THE COMMISSIONER The decision to locate a charter school in a public school building and the implementation and compliance with the Building Usage Plan may be appealed to the State Education Commissioner after such decision and plan have been approved by the Panel for Educational Policy. The appeal is meant to be expedited with DOE being required to respond within 10 days of the appeal being brought, and the Commissioner being required to render a decision within 10 days of receiving DOE’s response. 8. SHARED SPACE COMMITTEE A shared space committee must be established in each public school building in which one or more charter schools are co-located with one or more non-charter public schools or a D75 program with more than three classrooms in the building. The shared space committee shall be comprised of the principal, a teacher, and a parent from each co-located school or eligible D75 program. With respect to a non-charter school’s teacher and parent members, such shared space committee members shall be selected by the corresponding constituent member of the SLT at that school. With respect to charter schools whose location or co-location in a public school building was approved by the Panel for Educational Policy after the effective date of the Amended Charter School Act (i.e., May 28, 2010), the shared space committee shall review implementation of the Building Usage Plan developed by the Chancellor and approved by the Panel for Educational Policy. With respect to charter schools that were approved to be located or co-located in a public school building prior to the effective date of the Amended Charter School Act, the shared space committee shall review implementation of the current building space plan in place at those buildings. The Shared Space Committee is separate and apart from the regular building council meetings at which only the principals/operational leaders of the co-located schools may attend.

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9. CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS Any proposed capital improvement or facility upgrade to a public school space by a charter school which would cost more than $5,000, must now be submitted for approval to DOE prior to that improvement or upgrade being made, regardless of the charter school’s source of funding. Where a capital improvement or facility upgrade is approved by the Chancellor, an equal amount of funds must be made available to each of the co-located schools in the building for improvements and upgrades. The law does not specify the source of funds. The DOE will review each application for an improvement or upgrade and determine if approval is appropriate. Pursuant to the proposed Chancellor’s Regulation A-190, the DOE review process is triggered by the submission of a project request form that must be submitted to the Division of Operations at the DOE no later than 15 business days prior to the proposed commencement date of the project. Contact the Office of Space Planning at spaceplanning@schools.nyc.gov for more information. 10. SPACE PLANNING AND BUILDING COUNCILS Once an Educational Impact Statement is approved by the Panel for Educational Policy, the school’s building council shall meet with the DOE’s Office of Space Planning to assign specific rooms to each school and finalize the shared space plan. Please see the Campus Policy Memo and Procedures for more detail on the establishment and duties of the building council. 11. EXPANSION OF A SCHOOL THAT IS ALREADY CO-LOCATED A charter school that is already co-located in a public school space, but seeks to expand beyond the space which DOE originally planned to allocate to it, will trigger the siting provisions laid out above and DOE will treat this as a new co-location. As such, the DOE must file an Educational Impact Statement, create a Building Usage Plan, hold a joint-hearing and get approval of the Panel for Educational Policy through a formal vote.5

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Expansion of the school may also trigger the need for the DOE to conduct a charter revision hearing. See Footnote 1.

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Possible Timeline for Charter School Sitings
Set DOE identifies buildings slated for charter school colocation DOE creates Building Usage Plans and Educational Impact Statements Public hearings are held at affected schools Comments are solicited for the Panel for Educational Policy vote School siting decision voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy Oct Nov Dec Jan

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