Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the approximate date that the school would commence instruction?

September 2020.

2. What is the intended location?

We intend to locate in Sunset Park or Red Hook, in Community School District 15, Brooklyn, NY, to serve those areas with the greatest educational need and economic disadvantage.

3. What is the target population?

Community School District 15 consists of 16.3% Asian, 14.2% Black, 37% Latino, and 29.3% White residents and currently 18.3% of students have disabilities, 16.3% are English language learners and 63% live below the poverty line. 82 – 86% of students in Red Hook and Sunset Park qualify for free and reduced school lunch. 17-18% have special needs. With large Spanish and Chinese speaking populations, 15 – 31% are English Language Learners. There is a shortage of school seats in the district. Many families are on waitlists and there is severe overcrowding in Sunset Park. Residents deserve access to a quality education in their neighborhood.

We aim to serve students of all backgrounds, including students with disabilities, those whose primary language is not English, and families with economic disadvantage, while creating the diversity required to develop global competencies, address social injustice and create the leaders of tomorrow.

4. What are the proposed grades and enrollment?

There will be two classes per grade level, K – 5. In Year 1 we will enroll 30 Kindergarten and 40 1st Grade students. We estimate to have approximately 230 students by year 5. After our 5th year we plan to expand, adding another 6 classes, to approximately 345 students.

5. What is the Mission?

The mission is to create a safe, nurturing, innovative, challenging and fun learning environment — in collaboration with families and communities – where all can learn and pursue their highest academic and social potential.

6. What are some elements of the academic program?

Our school design centers around 5 Key Elements: Culture, Literacy, Technology, Arts & Health. Our culture reflects that students learn in different ways, in cooperative groups. Everyone’s voice is respected in a safe, inclusive environment. We employ literacy strategies, technology and arts immersion, sensible food options and plenty of movement throughout the day.

7. How will the school attend to the Social Emotional development of the students?

We respond to our students’ social emotional needs by providing services, support staff and educational technology for students with special needs and English language learners. Our advisory program, morning meetings, afternoon check-ins, extended-day program, developmental evaluations and innovative teaching practices support all students in a diverse learning environment.

8. How will the school support the needs of the community?

We serve the community by developing students who are agents of change, who learn through the exercise of compassion and self-reflection. Students, families and staff engage in frequent community service projects. Our extended-day ACE Club, Weekend ACE-ers and Summer Ace Academy offer academic supports and exciting electives, involving families in activities in local parks and neighborhood organizations, bringing together our school culture, neighborhood pride and the vast resources of our borough and city.

9. What are charter schools?

Charter schools are free public schools open to all New York City children.

10. What makes charter schools different from traditional district schools?

Charter schools are independent from NYC DOE. They are free to develop their own academic program, set educational goals, offer a longer school day and school year, and establish their own standards for student behavior. The combination of freedom and accountability for success allows charter schools to try new approaches, and offer parents an opportunity to choose a school that best suits their child’s needs.

11. Do charter schools have selective admissions?

No. Charter schools are free and open to all children, regardless of their academic skills or needs. They must take children on a first-come, first-served basis. However when more children apply than there are seats available, charter schools hold random admissions lotteries.

12. Do charter schools have to take students who are English Language Learners?

Yes. Parents should speak directly to school leaders to get a better understanding of the instructional strategies their schools use to support the academic growth of English Language Learners.

13. Do charter schools have to admit students who are receiving special education services?

Yes, charter schools work to meet the goals and objectives outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP). However, just as with district schools, not every charter school provides an appropriate placement for every child. A majority of charter schools have appropriate placements and programs for children with less restrictive environments written into their special education program, while some offer a wider array of placements and services.

14. Does STAIRS ACADEMY Charter School have any religious affiliations?


15. Are charter schools successful?

NYC charter schools significantly outperform their district counterparts in Math annually, and continued this trend for both ELA and Math during 2015-16 testing. African-American and Hispanic charter students also continue to outperform their district peers. In math, African-American charter students are more than twice as likely to be proficient than their district peers, and Hispanic students are nearly twice as likely to be proficient.

In Central Brooklyn, Harlem, and the South Bronx, where many charter schools are concentrated, and continue to grow, charter performance far exceeds that of the district. In the South Bronx alone, 14 of the top 20 schools in math proficiency were charters.

16. What types of students attend charter schools?

The approximately 106,600 students who attend New York City’s charter schools come from all backgrounds and ethnicities, and include a higher percentage of Hispanic or African American students than traditional New York City district schools. In the 2016-17 school year, there are more than 90% Hispanic or African American students in New York City’s charter schools. This is in part because charter schools are mostly located in areas in which a large number of Latino and African American students live.

Charter schools provide educational opportunities for families at all income levels; nearly 80% of NYC charter school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.