UFT charter school wins two-year renewal

UFT charter school wins two-year renewal

First-year teacher Kathia Darius with her 3rd-graders at the UFT Elementary Chapter School. (Dave Sanders)

by Micah Landau

The Board of Trustees of the State University of New York voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to renew the UFT Charter School’s charter for another two years, noting the progress at both the elementary and high school levels.

“We are happy to see that the SUNY authorizers have recognized the many successes of our charter school and have given the school the chance to build on those successes during the next two years,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

The K-12 school in East New York had previously received a three-year probationary renewal in 2010. Charter renewals are typically granted for five years.

The SUNY trustees oversee all charter schools authorized by SUNY’s Charter School Institute.

The UFT Charter School was created in 2005. The school is divided into elementary and secondary academies on separate campuses nearly a mile apart from one another. Although they share a charter, they are distinct academies with separate administrations. In the past, around half of the elementary academy’s students did not continue on to the secondary academy because of the distance, so half of the secondary academy’s incoming class did not have the benefit of the school’s K-5 education.

The distance between the two campuses has been one of the main sources of difficulty for the school. The trustees’ report noted that the elementary grades had shown enough progress to warrant renewal, the high school data was incomplete because the school will have its first graduating class of seniors this year, and the middle school grades were struggling.

That setup may soon change under a proposal to move the school’s middle grades from the secondary to the elementary campus in September.

Student test scores at the school have also been affected by its admission policy: In contrast to most other charter schools, neither academy at the UFT Charter School turns away any students, no matter what their needs.

The school must now meet a number of academic benchmarks over the next two years in order to be eligible for a full five-year renewal of its charter in 2015. If it fails to meet these requirements, it will close automatically — without another vote by the SUNY board.