Monday, July 13, 2009

Staten Island CEC Takes Stand on Charter Schools

Staten Island is getting its first charter school. And there has been a reaction. This reso from the Staten Island Community Education Council (what used to be the local school board) is really worth checking out for its call for limits on what charter schools can pay and lots of other goodies. Thus Eva Moskowitz would lose her charter if she wants to make $375,000 a year. The argument that the money did not come from public funds is bogus. If they had the money to pay her, then why are we the public being forced to subsidize her schools by giving her space in public schools?

The following resolution was presented to the public at the Community Education Council 31 Calendar Meeting held on July 6, 2009 at the Petrides Educational Complex, Staten Island, New York. A vote was taken and the resolution approved unanimously by voice-vote of the CEC members present, as reflected in the Minutes.


WHEREAS, there are currently 78 NYC charter schools, with a total of 24,000 students, and at least 20 additional charter schools have been approved to open in fall 2009; and

WHEREAS, every NYC charter school receives taxpayer money for each student it educates - for the 2008-2009 school year, the per pupil allocation (PPA) for charter schools in New York State is $12,432 – in addition to several state and federal grants; the vast majority of funding that charter schools receive — more than 95 percent — is from public school districts – approximately $150 million statewide and growing; and

WHEREAS the NY State Charter Schools Act of 1998 (Education Law § 2850-2857) clearly states that charter schools are considered to be “within the public school system” but also states that charter schools “operate independently of existing schools and school districts” (Article 56, § 2850, 2ff); and

WHEREAS the NY State Charter Schools Act of 1998 further describes a charter school in the following manner:
· As an “education corporation” (§ 2853, 1a); and
· For purposes of local zoning, land use regulation and building code compliance, “a charter school shall be deemed a nonpublic school” (§ 2853, 3a and 4a); while at the same time
· “Employees of a charter school may be deemed employees of the local school district for the purpose of providing retirement benefits, membership in the teachers’ retirement system and other retirement systems open to employees of public schools” (§ 2854 3c); however
· “An employee of a charter school shall be an employee of the education corporation and not an employee of the local school district” (§ 2854, 3a); and
· “A charter school shall be subject to the provisions of the public officers law” (§ 2854, 1e); but
· Aside from public schools’ health and safety, civil rights and student assessment requirements, “a charter school shall be exempt from all other state and local laws, rules, regulations or policies governing public or private schools, boards of education and school districts, including those relating to school personnel and students, except as provided in the school’s charter” (§ 2854, 1b); and
· Each charter school may create its own “code of ethics” in its application for incorporation (§ 2851, 2v); and

WHEREAS it is obvious to the Community Education Council of District 31 (CEC 31) that the NY State Charter Schools Act of 1998 is inconsistent in regard to whether a charter school is treated as a public or nonpublic school, private corporation or city employer, all of which seems entirely dependent on whatever designation is most convenient for charter schools’ boards of trustees; and

WHEREAS CEC 31 believes that the lack of consistency in the law governing charter schools results in the board of trustees of these schools being allowed to establish their own policies and manage their schools’ finances as they see fit, and that their decisions allow them to flaunt NYC Department of Education regulations and NY state laws regarding conflicts-of-interest, use of public taxpayer funds and codes-of-ethics; and

WHEREAS CEC 31 believes that the carte blanche given to charter schools has led to situations such as:
· Misuse of taxpayer funds by a Bronx charter school rewarding its teachers with all-expenses-paid “staff retreats” to the Caribbean, Cancun and the Dominican Republic from a bank account that mixes public taxpayer dollars with privately raised donations
· A former director of a Brooklyn nonprofit charter-school management organization that oversees 2 charter schools was paid nearly $700,000 in her last year on the job -- almost triple the salary of the NYC schools chancellor
· The current chief executive of a fast-growing chain of Harlem charter schools – currently overseeing 4 schools with plans to eventually have 40 such schools within 10 years – received compensation of $310,000 last year - $250,000 in salary and $60,000 as a bonus as the “director”, chief executive officer’ and “independent contractor” for the same 4 charter schools. By managing the 4 charter schools she earned more than the NYC schools chancellor, who gets $250,000 to run 1,400 schools. She even surpassed the former SUNY chancellor, who manages 70 campuses with nearly 300,000 students.
· A Bronx charter school paid $400,000 to lease space in a building owned by its founder, whose director is a trustee of the school and whose wife is the school’s principal
· At the same Bronx charter school, a another trustee’s wife earned $55,000 in salary as a paid consultant helping set up a school fund-raising operation
· A NYC charter school set to open in 2009 in Washington Heights with plans to offer significantly higher pay for teachers, $125,000 per year, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance
· The NYS Court of Appeals currently hearing arguments in a lawsuit brought by charter schools associations to prevent the NYS Comptroller from being able to perform audits of public charter schools, on the basis that that “the Comptroller’s audits of charter schools are duplicative and unfair”

Education Law § 2850-2857 clearly stipulates that the charter authorizer (DoE and/or NYS Education Department) and the Board of Regents provide oversight of charter schools, including fiscal accountability; however charters, which are publicly financed but independently operated, face less oversight from school districts and fiscal authorities such as the NYS Comptroller’s Office; THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that CEC 31 hereby requests that the NYC Department of Education and the SUNY Board of Regents withhold granting of incorporation as a “charter” to any school that seeks to pay a charter school administrator, principal or teacher an annual salary - including salary incentives such as bonuses – in an amount which exceeds the current salary of a comparable public elementary school or middle school administrator, principal or teacher. The annual salary, including bonuses, for charter school elementary school administrators should not exceed $140,000 per year and $175,000 per year for middle school administrators; and BE IT

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NYC Department of Education and the SUNY Board of Regents withhold granting of incorporation as a “charter” to any school that does not adhere to standard conflicts-of-interest regulations and codes-of-ethics rules that apply to all NY city and NY state employees and elected officials.

Explanation: We believe that since charter schools receive taxpayer money, they should be required to follow standards of conduct that all public employees must follow regarding use of public funds. Charter schools’ trustees should not be allowed to pay whatever salaries and bonuses they wish, nor do business with relatives and friends if taxpayer money is involved. Charter schools’ financial records should be subject to audit by the NYS Comptroller, in addition to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute on a regular basis. If any charter school applicant does not wish to adhere to these stipulations, their “charter” should be denied. We do not believe that we should seek to improve schools at any price. We do not believe that anything should be allowed in exchange for improved student performance and scores. Honest standards, fairness, and transparency must exist when public funding is given to any organization.

APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY by roll call vote of all members present: 9 YES; 0 NO; (Absent for vote: Harrison)

PASSED and ADOPTED this 6th Day of July, 2009.

/s/ Kathy Baldassano
Kathy Baldassano
Administrative Assistant, CEC 31


Anonymous said...

Well we don't have the charter quite yet. One charter was approved for severely emotionally disturbed kids and funded but there isn't a cite. They are attempting to put general ed kids in the classes. The brochure developed to recruit kids does not truly represent this. They want to go into an old hospital site but the renovations and asbestos removal may take years. They are attempting to go into a new building that is opening with a limited population. But the building was built to relieve overcrowding for over 25 years. The school is beginning with kgn.and grade 6 general ed. Imagine putting kgn in with ED middle and hs kids. The cec voted against approval but they were told at a public meeting that they didn't have the power to turn it down. People are already hired for the charter school and being paid. The second charter school is being advocated for by a group of parents, again in an overcrowded area. I don't believe this is yet approve

Anonymous said...

This wording is not so good....I think most parents believe schools should be improved at any price. It is a wrong juxtaposition of concepts...level the playing field and the waste of precision funding for public education SHOULD be more the reasoning. Give us that money so we can FIX public schools.

"We do not believe that we should seek to improve schools at any price. We do not believe that anything should be allowed in exchange for improved student performance and scores. Honest standards, fairness, and transparency must exist when public funding is given to any organization."





If the General Public was furnished with this devastating economic information there would be an uprising as emotional and hotly debated as the Madoff Ponzi schemes.

The reason the Charter quacks get away with their scams and shell games is that the General Public does not have a clue about what this whole Charter School con game is really all about.

There is NOT a Public School anywhere that would not show an upswing in student progress reports if such HUGE infusions of cash were injected into a school's general budget to hire more teachers thus reducing class size and allowing for more critical services.

This Staten Island CEC Resolution should be replicated in the tens of millions and dropped from airplanes from coast to economically bleeding coast.

This News Report represents a Clarion Call that should be promulgated at every Rally and every attempt should be made to SATURATE THE NEWS MEDIA with this information regarding the astronomical "compensation packages" of all these blood sucking Charter school "Administration Bandits" whose ultra exhorbitant "salaries" represent the Education Bank Heist of the Century.

This information if shared and explained to American communities everywhere would go a long way to making people wake up and recognize how they are being ripped off at a time when so many Americans are barely able to keep their heads above water and even keep Body and Soul together.

There should be huge Rallies and Demonstrations held in front of Joel Klein. Esq.'s 565 Park Ave Co-op building with signs so large that even from the windows of his Luxury Duplex, high above the street he can see printed on the signs the Mega Salaries being paid to the Charter School Administration vampires.

Let Klein explain these dollar figures to the Public.

This is information the Public can understand and you will be surprised how quickly the Public "gets it".