New York City - The State University of New York
Board of Trustees voted today to close the New Covenant Charter School located in Albany, New York at the end of the current school year.
decision marks the conclusion of a lengthy review process that included months
of analysis by SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute, a community meeting at New
Covenant, and two public sessions of the SUNY Trustees’ Charter Schools
Committee. New Covenant will continue to operate until the last scheduled day
of school, on or about June 21, 2010.
New Covenant Charter School was the second charter school to open in New York State in the fall of
1999. The school has had a difficult history, including an initial charter
renewal in 2004 wherein the school was ordered to eliminate instruction in
grades 7 and 8 due to low performance; a vote by the school’s own board of
trustees to close the school due to fiscal instability in 2007; and two
consecutive non-renewal recommendations by SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute.
The school currently serves just over 600 students, the large majority of whom
are residents of the City School District of Albany.
decision to close a school is never easy,” said Carl T. Hayden, Chairman of the
SUNY Board of Trustees. “Our obligation to be accountable is easier in
the abstract than in practice. However, we recognize this decision is about the
importance of ensuring that charter schools honor the compact with their authorizer.
This is the reason charter schools are unique.”
“We know how difficult today’s news is for the New
Covenant community,” added Hayden. “And we acknowledge the significant time and
effort that the school’s leadership team, teachers, students and parents all
invested in an effort to try to turn this school around.”
reviewing the school’s current application to renew its charter or contract to
operate, the Charter Schools Institute found that while the school had made
progress, it did not it did not meet the goals of its academic accountability
plan or the academic conditions of its renewal.
Referring to the Institute’s findings, Jonas
S. Chartock, the Institute Executive Director explained that, “the bar here is
not just improvement, but rather the rigorous standards set by the SUNY Board of Trustees and
how far a school is from meeting those standards with respect to: 1) to
student achievement in math, English language arts, science and social studies;
2) having a strong and effective governance model, and 3) achieving fiscal
stability. It is by these measures that New Covenant has consistently missed
In the coming days, the Institute will aid New
Covenant families in their transition to a new school for next year. The City
School District of Albany submitted a detailed transition plan to the SUNY
Trustees indicating its capacity to serve New Covenant Students.
Because the deadlines for applications fell
either at the end of this month or the beginning of the next month, the Institute
has already shared with New Covenant parents information about magnet school
and charter school deadlines as well as information on private and parochial
“I have been in communication with the
superintendents of all of the home districts of New Covenant’s students, and
families will have time to enter lotteries for schools of choice throughout the
Capital District,” added Chartock. “We will work to coordinate open houses and
continue to support individual families in any way we can.”
As the end of the school year draws closer,
the Institute will also begin discussions with New Covenant’s board of trustees
about the closure process.
It is too soon to make any comment on what will happen to
the school’s building.
The Institute’s renewal report, as well as subsequently
developed material related to today’s decision and prepared at the request of
the SUNY Trustees, is available on the Institute’s website at: http://www.newyorkcharters.org/pubsReportsRenewals.htm
(scroll to the bottom of the page).
Schools Institute was created by the State University Trustees to assist them
in carrying out their responsibilities under the New York Charter Schools Act
of 1998. Guided by the rigorous standards set by the State University Trustees,
the Institute’s oversight of SUNY-authorized charter schools is comprehensive,
including: acceptance and evaluation of new school charter applications;
ongoing oversight and evaluation of all charter schools subsequently authorized
by SUNY; reporting to the public on each school’s performance and progress; and
conducting a comprehensive evaluation when a school applies to renew its
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