New Connections Academy

Questions and Answers re:
Charter School Application

Presented to:

Denver Public Schools
District School Improvement
and Accountability Council

David Benoit, Sylvan Ventures, (410) 843-6233
Gail Klapper, The Klapper Firm, (303) 592-1117


Note from Wisconsin Parents Association: New Connections Academy. Questions and Answers re: Charter School Application. Presented to: Denver Public Schools District School Improvement and Accountability Council. David Benoit, Sylvan Ventures, (410) 843-6233. Gail Klapper, The Klapper Firm, (303) 592-1117. 10/25/01 (WPA received this document from the Denver Public Schools in accordance with open records law.) [posted to WPA's Web site 3/10/02]

This document is very useful for two reasons: (1) The proposal for the New Connections Academy submitted to the Denver (Colorado) Public Schools can be assumed to be similar to the ideas behind the Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA) that is seeking a charter from the Appleton Area School District, especially since David Benoit, Executive Vice President of Sylvan Ventures and one of the co-authors of this document, has also been involved with Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA). In addition, the Sylvan proposals WPA has reviewed from the other states in which they have applied for charters have all been very similar.

Here are very revealing responses to good questions the Denver Public Schools asked Sylvan Ventures about their proposed New Connections Academy (NCA). Among the points worthy of note:

  • The relationship between the Charter (NCA) and Sylvan Learning (pp. 9-10)
  • The proposed budget on pp. 14-15 and especially the Budget Narrative on pp. 16-20.

(2) Notice how thorough the Denver Public Schools were in investigating Sylvan's proposal. By contrast, Appleton school personnel knowledgeable about charter school matters told WPA on March 8, 2002, that a complete proposal had not yet been submitted by WCA. Despite this, a major policy decision is expected to be made at a meeting of a committee of the Appleton school board on March 15, 2002. How can major decisions about new programs that will strongly impact public schools throughout the state be made without a judicious amount of time to review, analyze, and discuss a complete proposal?

In addition, remember that having reviewed this document, the Denver Public Schools denied a charter to NCA.

Technical Notes:

  • All the pages from the original are included in this document with their original page numbers appearing in the text, but the pagination of the PDF is different from the pagination of the original document.
  • The last digit of each number in the final column on page 15 was evidently truncated when the document was produced by Sylvan Ventures and the Klapper Firm. WPA has added a zero to each of the numbers in this column to remedy this.
  • End of note from Wisconsin Parents Association

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

New Connections Academy is honored to respond to the following questions posed by the District School Improvement and Accountability Council of Denver Public Schools in its memo to us dated October 17, 2001.

1. How does the proposed Charter align with the Charter School Act?

New Connections Academy was developed in careful alignment to the Colorado Charter Schools Act. See the matrix beginning on page 21 for point-by-point alignment.
1A. Can you provide DSIAC subcommittee with evidence of parent/community support or interest for this Charter School?
New Connections Academy is a unique charter school proposition. The concept was developed by Sylvan Ventures in collaboration with a coalition of Front Range superintendents to meet a variety of district imperatives:
  • To provide an alternative structure for students not thriving in conventional classroom settings.
  • To utilize the opportunities offered through charter school legislation to establish an innovative approach to community needs through an inter district collaboration.
  • To recapture student enrollment being lost to home schools, private schools, and out-of-district charters.
  • To join forces with peer districts to develop a charter of the depth and sophistication that would be difficult for any one district to facilitate on its own.
At the suggestion of the participating eight superintendents in the coalition, this charter proposal has been submitted simultaneously to Denver Public Schools, Adams County District 50 and Douglas County. Sylvan Ventures was guided by the coalition of participating superintendents to begin a virtual learning capacity in these three districts, with the opportunity for further expansion. The other members of the coalition, Jefferson County, Littleton, Pueblo District 60 and Cherry Creek would then be able to participate by contract with one of these initial charters, or ultimately install their own charter, as appropriate.

As part of the next stage of development, NCA will conduct market research among target groups of Denver metro area parents to deepen our local understanding of interest trends indicated at the national level.

2. Define your enrollment or lottery procedures.
New Connections Academy intends to design the details of its enrollment and lottery procedures in collaboration with the host district so that the process best meets the

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needs of students here. The broad conceptual outline for this process is as follows:
  • During the enrollment period each year (roughly March through June), NCA will provide application forms in English, Spanish, and other languages as determined in consultation with the host district. Applications will be available in paper and online form; both types of applications will be treated equally.
  • The enrollment opportunity will be publicized through the outreach/marketing plan described in 3, below, with concentration of efforts in Denver.
  • At the end of the enrollment period, if the number of applications does not exceed program capacity, New Connections Academy will enroll any eligible student who submits a timely application.
  • If the number of applicants exceeds the program capacity, then enrollment will be determined by tiered lottery, with the majority of slots (e.g., 5 1 %) allotted to Denver; a second tier of slots (e.g, 41%) allotted to the other coalition districts; and the remaining slots (e.g., 8%) available to applicants from around the state. Applications will be divided into three pools: Denver, coalition districts, and remainder of state. Each application will be assigned a number. Numbers will be chosen at random from the Denver pool until the Denver majority allotment has been filled. The lottery will then proceed to the coalition pool to fill those slots, and then to the "rest of state" pool.
  • Students selected through the lottery have a specified time to sign a commitment letter to indicate the pupil will attend the school. If the signed commitment letter is not returned within the allotted period of time, the school will proceed to offer space to the next student on the waiting list created through the lottery process. Siblings of students accepted through the lottery will automatically be eligible for enrollment in the school.
  • Once enrolled, students will not be required to reapply in subsequent enrollment periods.

3. Define your recruiting and outreach strategies, particularly how will you recruit an at-risk population of students?

New Connections Academy's target audience is a broad range of students and their families who seek an alternative to the conventional classroom setting. These include students who are homebound or hospital-bound due to illness or disability; students in group homes or institutional settings; students at-risk of academic failure who may particularly benefit from intensive personalized instruction; students whose exceptional abilities place them far ahead of or far behind their peers; students whose families have opted for home schooling; students pursuing artistic or athletic careers that require a flexible school schedule; and students in isolated rural areas whose educational options are limited by transportation barriers and local school resources. In its outreach efforts, NCA will focus on assuring diversity within its student population. By its second year of operations, NCA is committed to achieving and maintaining an ethnic composition that parallels the ethnic composition across

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Colorado public schools.

To achieve these goals, NCA will implement-with guidance from the host district and Advisory Board (see 13, below)-a grassroots marketing/outreach plan that includes the following:

Web information/call center
  • building a Web site that contains information in English and Spanish about New Connections Academy, what it offers, and how to apply
  • registering the Web site with search engines such as Yahoo and and portal sites such as LatinoLink and Parent Soup.
  • seeking to establish links with other education and community-based organizations that have web pages, including the Denver Public Schools and contiguous school districts, Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Parent Information and Resource Center, Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Chamber, and Colorado Indian Chamber
  • staffing and publicizing a contact phone number to call for information (to be provided in both English and Spanish)
Community and youth services partnerships
  • providing information about New Connections Academy to youth serving organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Tri-County Youth Services and Denver Area Youth Services
  • reaching out to residential facilities such as Devereux Cleo Wallace Centers and Denver Children's Home as well as health-related organizations serving ill and homebound youth
  • developing partnerships with special needs athletics programs such as Colorado Special Hockey/Golden Eagles
  • meeting with and providing information to organizations and parent groups focusing on exceptional children (such as Parent To Parent of Colorado), professional children (such as the Screen Actor's Guild/Colorado Branch), home school alternatives (such as the Denver Northwest School Community), and the like.
Open Houses/community meetings
  • providing multiple Open House informational sessions in English and Spanish at various times of the day and on weekends throughout the Denver Metro area and other areas of the state
  • providing informational sessions and posting flyers at community centers and public libraries throughout the Denver Metro area and in selected communities around the state
  • posting informational flyers (in both English and Spanish) in underserved neighborhoods announcing Open Houses, Web site, and call center
School district referrals and outreach

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  • briefing school Denver and contiguous district administrators and guidance personnel on NCA as an alternative for students who might benefit from individualized instruction in a non-classroom setting
  • reaching out to other districts via the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Office for Rural Education
Media outreach
  • advertising and participating in talk shows on and providing newsfeeds to local radio stations such as KXRE (1490 AM Radio) and local television outlets such as Univision and Telemundo
  • advertising (in Spanish and English) in and providing newsfeeds to local newspapers, such as the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, La Voz de Colorado, and Hispania News
  • advertising on and providing newsfeeds to community-focused Web sites such as, Denver Post Online, Hola Colorado, and

After the first year of operation, NCA will continue to market its program through the methods listed above in an effort to maintain student enrollment and to expand the grade levels served by the school. NCA will also seek feedback from the community and particularly from enrolled students and their parents as to how NCA could strengthen its efforts. NCA will modify its marketing efforts according to the feedback. However, NCA also believes that the program will, to a certain degree, market itself. Students' work at the community level and the regional symposia will provide NCA with invaluable grassroots exposure.

4. If a prospective student does not have a learning coach, would he/she be precluded from enrolling? What if the Learning Coach quits or is not meeting his/her responsibilities?

The importance of the learning coach for the success of each student cannot be overstated. Even when parents/guardians cannot personally fulfill the role of learning coach, they must commit to participating in the selection of the coach; communicating regularly with the designated coach and the NCA teachers; and checking in daily with the student for a report on their progress, reviewing their work of the day and logging information to that effect.

NCA will assist parents/guardians who can't themselves be learning coaches to identify an appropriate coach in their extended family or community. In addition, NCA will work diligently to establish partnerships with local schools and youth-serving organizations to provide group settings in which local staff can serve as learning coaches for several students at one time.

NCA staff will be in daily touch with each learning coach and can provide early intervention and assistance when a coach seems not to be meeting his or her

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

responsibilities. If the situation escalates and the learning coach quits-either explicitly or in effect-NCA will work with the family to identify a new designated coach. However, if during the school year a parent/guardian fails to either serve personally as an effective learning coach or to participate in the selection/supervision of an effective designee, NCA may have little choice but to assist that family in placing the child in a more appropriate school setting.

5. Define your curriculum and does it meet or exceed Denver Public Schools Standards?

The New Connections Academy curriculum is standards-based, accountability-driven, and delivered to each student according to his or her Personalized Learning Plan (PLP). For students in Colorado, the PLP will be based directly on the Denver Standards for Success and their related benchmarks, with a scope, sequence, and mix of content tailored to each student's current skill set, learning styles, and interests. (The curriculum will also include topics for which Denver does not currently have standards, such as the arts, but the daily focus will be on Reading & Writing, Mathematics, Science, History, and Geography.) For example, all NCA sixth graders will master the Denver Reading Standard 1.O, "Students read and understand a variety of materials," with its middle grades focus on extending comprehension to "abstract texts" such as newspapers and technical writing. But one student may follow a PLP that combines daily reading of several online newspapers/news services and comparison of their coverage of a particular event, while another student reads a software user's manual and adapts it for kids her age. Each student's work will conclude with a summative assessment to document mastery of the standard. Sources for the curriculum content and assessments are described in 6, below.

6. Who will develop the on-line curriculum?

While the New Connections Academy curriculum is managed online through use of technology tools—which help track student work against the Denver Standards for Success, allow instant feedback on student performance, and permit students, teachers, and learning coaches to collaborate across space and time—the curriculum content itself is a mix of high-quality offline and online, print and multimedia materials. These will be drawn from a variety of core and supplementary publishers, licensed online courseware, publicly available resources from the Internet and elsewhere, teacher developed materials, and New Connections Academy's own materials. We are currently in the process of securing our major content partnerships, with active discussions underway with providers of core curriculum, supplementary curriculum, and assessment items—all of which we will correlate to Denver Standards for dynamic use by NCA teachers and students. Following approval of the charter, we will contract with local teachers and education consultants to augment this content repository with any needed Denver- and Colorado-specific material.

7. Provide clarification as to how you will meet the needs of students that are English language learners or who have educational disabilities (special

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educational and related services)

Prior to opening, NCA will develop a process for obtaining information from parents regarding any special learning needs their child may have. This process will include questions asked of all parents about previous English language acquisition services, special education services, Section 504/1DEA accommodation plans or special health plans. The school will indicate that this information will be used to plan for the transition of students with special needs into NCA. In addition, NCA will develop a process for requesting educational records from previous schools of enrolling students. This information will be combined with the multiple measures of evaluation that NCA will use with all students to develop their Personalized Learning Plans.
  • English Language Acquisition: In the case of English Language Learners, NCA will hire teachers who have been trained in language acquisition techniques according to the needs of our population, and who can communicate effectively with parents/learning coaches of English Language Learners. These teachers will work with the coaches to develop a PLP that appropriately addresses the language acquisition needs of each student, and additional supplementary materials will be provided as needed. Through their interactions with other NCA students and with the online and offline NCA community, English Language Learners will have multiple opportunities to practice their growing language skills in a variety of settings. The needs of these students' parents will also be addressed through translated materials and language appropriate communications from the school.

  • Special Education: The one-to-one design of the New Connections Academy will ensure the appropriate educational approach and pace for students with special education needs such as educational disabilities. Instead of being lost in a typical classroom lesson, special needs and learning disabled students will move sequentially toward mastery at their own pace, using activities that effectively enable them to learn the required material. Furthermore, when participating in the online community of NCA learners, these students' disabilities are "invisible" unless and until they choose to reveal them. NCA will hire appropriately licensed personnel as necessary to meet students' special education needs. At NCA, adaptive technologies will be used to provide any services that can benefit the student with special needs in a virtual school setting. For instance, adaptive audio technologies may be used to aid a hearing impaired or visually impaired child. Some services may be delivered to physically impaired students via video-cam and touch-screen adaptive technologies. These personnel may include teachers hired on a part time basis to meet the specific needs of individual students, or one or more full time teachers with multiple special education certifications who can team with general education teachers to plan for any necessary assessment procedures and to develop the individualized education plans (IEP) as required by law for each student identified as eligible for receiving special education services. NCA is prepared to contract for services that cannot be provided by staff.

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  • Gifted and Talented: The one-to-one design of the New Connections Academy will be well suited to meeting the needs of academically gifted children as well. The Personalized Learning Plans will allow students to set their goals for learning and receive the assistance they need to advance and deepen their skills according to their own needs and abilities. Unique needs of the students can be handled individually without negative impact to other students and with benefit to the student being served. Provisions have been made in the NCA budget to allow for expenditures and revenues relative to this special population of students. The Board will adjust the budget to provide for whatever services are deemed necessary in the IEP of the exceptional and academically gifted student.

When operational, NCA will contract with an appropriately licensed Special Education Director and/or English Language Acquisition Director to provide oversight and coordination in meeting student needs. In addition, NCA leadership will participate in special education training provided by both the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Colorado Department of Education.

8. How would the school provide physical education instruction? Would students have any opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, speech, drama, and clubs?

New Connections Academy teachers will provide physical education activity suggestions to the student and learning coach as part of the Personalized Learning Plan, based on the student's interests and location. NCA families within geographic range of one another will be encouraged to pursue shared interests in recreational sports and face-to-face extracurricular activities. Students will have many opportunities to participate in online clubs and competitions, many culminating in special performances at NCA symposia. In addition, wherever possible NCA will develop partnerships with coalition district schools and community organizations to include NCA students in regular sports and extracurricular activities as a way of further cementing their socialization and citizenship skills.

9. How do you intend to promote social development through the proposed virtual learning model?

As a virtual school, New Connections Academy approaches its student social development responsibilities with special care and creativity, focusing on the unique community aspects of our school experience. NCA students are members of a variety of communities: the community of their extended family, the geographic community in which they live, the community of NCA, and the broader world to which we are all connected. To promote broad and lasting social development, the NCA instructional program integrates these communities into students' learning in several ways:

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  • Through local peer interaction via learning projects and extracurricular activities (see 8, above)
  • Through team projects with family members and NCA peers locally in Colorado and with other students at other NCA sites nationwide
  • Through local community service activities that allow students to apply their academic skills while interacting with other NCA students in their immediate geographic area
  • Through regularly scheduled NCA symposia that students and their families attend in person or via Web cast and which feature student exhibits, presentations, and forums

10. How many minutes per day/week do teachers provide direct/face to face instruction?

Over the course of the 180-day academic year, New Connections Academy students will expected to document a 6 to 8 hours per day of engaged time, including online classes, interaction with teachers, independent work on- and offline, group projects, and community activities. (NCA will track this engaged time through its technology-based curriculum management system.) Of this time, it is anticipated that about 75% (e.g., a minimum of 270 minutes daily) will be spent in direct interaction with the NCA Colorado-certified teaching staff (through one-to-one consultation, small group coaching, or virtual class instruction) and/or the learning coach. The remaining 25% of the student's time will be spend on independent research, reading, and peer group projects.

Unlike constant interaction each day between the student and his or her learning coach, and the frequent interactions between students and community mentors working on community projects, the student's interactions with the Colorado-certified teaching staff is direct but rarely face-to-face. Teachers and students will meet in person mainly during the thrice-yearly symposia and special regional projects.

11. How will you administer the Colorado School Assessment Program (CSAP)?

As a public school, NCA intends to participate fully in administration of CSAP. As needed, the school will make logistical arrangements with the host district and the Colorado Department of Education to provide supervised in-person test locations for its students, and will compensate participating districts for these services. NCA hopes to work with CDE to support, promote, and pilot test online administration of CSAP in the future.

12. Define the Charter's relation with Sylvan Learning.

The corporate entity directly involved with New Connections Academy is Sylvan Ventures, the founding investor of the Virtual School Company of which New Connections Academy in Colorado is a wholly owned subsidiary. This Virtual School Company provides all of the educational and operational services delivered by New

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Connection Academy in Colorado.

As part of the Sylvan Ventures "portfolio," this Virtual School Company and its subsidiary New Connections Academy are well positioned to draw upon the expertise of the extended family of Sylvan companies, such as eSylvan (online tutoring), Canter (professional development), and Sylvan Learning Centers (community-based instruction).

13. Governing board questions

The Sylvan Ventures Virtual School Company corporate board will be the legal board governing New Connections Academy operations. This corporate board will be guided by a Colorado-based Advisory Board of Directors which is described in a-d, below.

a. How is the Advisory Board chosen?
The New Connections Academy Advisory Board will be made up of three representatives, including the superintendent and his/her two designees, from each of the coalition districts the school serves. The superintendent of the charter host district will chair the Advisory Board. Coalition districts will be encouraged to select their delegations to represent their many communities (business, human services, academic, parent) and to provide overall diversity of race, ethnicity, language, and background on the Advisory Board.

b.What are the lengths of terms?
The superintendents on the Advisory Board will be voting ex officio members whose terms will run for the duration of the charter, All of the other representatives will serve staggered three-year terms.

c. Will parents and staff be provided with an opportunity to become members of the Advisory Board?
Each coalition district may choose its delegation to the Advisory Board as it sees fit; we certainly anticipate that some of these members will be parents and/or staff. In addition, parents are urged to participate in the Parent/Student Advisory Committee which will provide direct advice and guidance to the Board.

d. Would Sylvan Learning have representatives on the Advisory Board?
Sylvan will not be represented on the Advisory Board but Sylvan representatives will be present at each Advisory Board meeting in order to assist the Board in its understanding of NCA activities nationwide and to facilitate the implementation of the Advisory Board's recommendations.

14. Will your Board of Directors and teachers be from Colorado? Clarify the budgeted travel expenses.

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The Advisory Board of Directors, school administrators, and teachers will all be from Colorado. The budget reflects the following travel expenses:
  • Teachers: No explicitly budgeted travel expenses; the $2,500 Professional Development allotment per teacher per year includes travel to an annual face-to-face gathering for training sessions and networking.
  • School Administration: NCA budgets annual travel costs of $2,400 for its school administrators (School Director and, in Year 3, Assistant School Director) to accommodate local and in-state meetings with staff and parents, NCA symposia, and an occasional national meeting. The Community Liaison has a travel budget of $4,800 per year to support extensive travel within the state for purposes of developing partnership and mentorship opportunities with Colorado community organizations, non-profit institutions, and businesses for NCA students.
  • Advisory Board of Directors: As described above, the Advisory Board will be composed of representatives from the coalition districts, who will gather to meet monthly. In addition, we want to take advantage of board development opportunities such as the Colorado League of Charter Schools Board Retreat. Given the size of the Advisory Board and its geographic distribution, we want to assure sufficient budget to accommodate all board travel needs and other expenses.

15. What is the content of the training for the learning coach?

NCA will provide regional in-person and statewide web cast orientation for parents/learning coaches prior to the opening of each school year. Follow-on training will be available via the web, and ongoing support available during extended business hours by phone. Through this training/orientation and support, the learning coach will learn how to:
  • master the minimal technology skills needed for using the NCA computer and Web site
  • work with the teacher and student to design a Personalized Learning Plan
  • reinforce (to the extent necessary and appropriate) the teacher's direct instruction and guidance toward mastery of new skills and concepts
  • create assignments or lessons (where desired and appropriate)
  • encourage students to apply skills and concepts in a variety of situations
  • confer with the student on his or her interests and aptitudes (to the extent the student is developmentally able)
  • guide the student to select community learning opportunities that meet his or her interests
  • guide the student to becoming responsible for his or her own learning through the use of goal setting and data-driven decisions
  • coach the student toward regular self-assessment and adjustments in his/her learning
  • confer with teachers and community members to gather information about the student's progress, accomplishments, and challenges

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  • participate in parent/teacher virtual roundtable discussions about academics, educational methods, etc.
  • participate in student-led conferences
  • serve as a role model for students through personal goal setting, community involvement, and personal reflection.

16. Provide a copy of your proposed budget for 2002.

The originally submitted budget began with the 2002-2003 school year, but this was labeled as Fiscal 2003. A more clearly labeled three-year budget is attached (pages 14-20). A five-year budget for the full length of the proposed charter is forthcoming.

17. Will the school be for-profit? If so clarify where is this in the budget.

New Connections Academy will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the for-profit Sylvan Ventures Virtual School Company. Profits would result from the "Purchased Services" contracts described in 20, below, depending on the ability of the company to effectively deliver these services at a cost below the contract amount.

18. How will the contingency fund be used and why does it significantly increase each year?

The New Connections Academy proposed budget represents our best estimates of expenditures necessary to fully meet the requirements of the charter. The contingency fund captures retained earnings that grow with the student population as the school achieves economies of scale. The fund will allow the school and the company to meet charter requirements even under extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances.

19. Could this be marketed as a private or home school program?

No. The clear focus of NCA is to provide a public standards-based, public accountability-focused school experience that shifts the location of learning out of the regular classroom and makes students and their parents/guardians full partners in learning. While this unique combination may be appealing to current homeschool and private school families, NCA will be marketed very intentionally as a public school alternative for our entire target group of students as defined in 3, above.

20. List all amounts being paid to Sylvan Learning and services that are being provided by it? Would there be a competitive bidding process for those services in the future?

Services proposed to contract to
Sylvan Ventures/Virtual School Company

(from submitted three-year budget)
Instructional Services: Provision of instructional management and delivery system that integrates 101,500 209,090 323,044

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Colorado standards-based benchmarks, formative and summative assessments, and curriculum content tailored to each student's learning needs as expressed in the Personalized Learning Plan; coordination and delivery of all print and electronic instructional materials; managing technology and training services for teachers.      
Student Services: Training for learning coaches (parents and their designated substitutes) in fulfilling their roles in the education of NCA students; management of all NCA-related student technology services, including acquiring and configuring all computers and providing training for students and learning coaches in use of the NCA technology system. 87,000 179,220 276,895
Business Services: Managing all NCA marketing campaigns and call center activities and maintaining the Web site; these services may be open for competitive bidding in the future. 43,500 89,610 138,447
Financial Services: Payroll, accounting and treasury services; may subcontract via competitive bidding from Year 1 forward with a knowledgeable and reputable local organization. 29,000 59,740 92,298

21. Could Sylvan Learning use the curriculum with students/clients not enrolled in the Charter School?

Sylvan Ventures is working to establish New Connections Academies in several states, and these schools will draw from a common base of curriculum that is delivered in a customized way according to each state's standards. We anticipate that local NCA staff will participate actively in development of additional curriculum and assessment resources to meet local needs, and will be compensated through stipends for this work. In addition, each learning team-student, teacher, and learning coach-will approach the curriculum in its own unique way in order to adapt to the student's Personalized Learning Plan. In the future, Sylvan Ventures may license some portion of the base curriculum and supporting technology to other school districts and charter school partners, to aid in the dissemination of virtual school best practices.

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Proposed Budget

(Note: Originally submitted budget listed each year as "Fiscal Year"-figures unchanged)

NEW CONNECTIONS ACADEMY BUDGET School Year 1 School Year 2 School Year 3
2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005
Student Enrollment 290 580 870
Special Ed Students 35 70 105
Facility Size (Square Footage) 800 1,000 1,600
Average Teacher Salary 31,803 32,757 33,740
Student / Teacher Ratio 30 30 30
Revenue from State Sources 1,608,906 3,314,347 5,120,666
Special Education Grant 31,860 63,720 95,580
Revenue from Federal Sources 55,970 115,298 178,136
Revenue from Local Sources 0 0 0
Sylvan Loan 150,000 0 0
TOTAL REVENUES 1,846,736 3,493,365 5,394,382
School Administration
Salaries and Wages - School Director 70,000 72,100 74,263
Salaries and Wages - Assistant School Director 0 0 58,350
Salaries and Wages - Community Liaison 45,000 46,350 47,741
Salaries and Wages - Community Liaison Support 0 0 37,132
Salaries and Wages - Lead Guidance Counselor 42,500 43,775 45,088
Salaries and Wages - Guidance Counselor 0 41,200 84,872
Salaries and Wages - Office Assistant 30,000 30,900 31,827
Fringe Benefits - Payroll Taxes 14,344 17,926 29,014
Fringe Benefits - Health Insurance 35,625 44,522 72,062
Fringe Benefits - Retirement Benefits 3,750 4,687 7,585
Professional Development 10,056 12,947 21,337
Office Supplies 2,220 2,858 4,710
Information Technology 2,160 2,781 4,583
Rent and Utilities 29,440 38,028 62,975
Travel 7,200 7,416 15,277
Recruiting 0 8,240 19,096
Subtotal - School Administration 292,295 373,729 615,912
Instructional Staff
Salaries and Wages - Teachers 307,429 633,304 978,454
Salaries and Wages - Substitutes 15,371 31,665 48,923
Fringe Benefits - Payroll Taxes 23,518 48,448 74,852
Fringe Benefits - Health Insurance 58,412 120,328 185,906
Fringe Benefits - Retirement Benefits 6,149 12,666 19,569
Subtotal - Instructional Staff 410,879 846,410 1,307,704

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School Year 1 School Year 2 School Year 3
2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005
Purchased Instructional Services 101,500 209,090 323,040
Professional Development 24,302 48,604 72,900
Special Education Equipment 1,200 2,400 3,600
Student Assessment/Testing 5,800 11,600 17,400
Supplies/Materials - Instructional 967 1,933 2,900
Textbooks 17,980 35,960 53,940
Information Technology 6,535 13,069 19,600
Internet Access 5,220 10,440 15,660
Telephone 919 1,837 2,750
Workbooks 3,480 6,960 10,440
On-Line Curriculum 87,000 174,000 261,000
Textbook Shipping 5,800 11,600 17,400
Subtotal - Instructional 260,702 527,494 800,650
Business Services
Legal and Accounting 50,000 51,500 53,040
Advertising/Public Relations/Marketing 82,940 110,780 77,720
Insurance 11,000 11,330 11,670
Fees, Dues and Memberships 11,000 11,330 11,670
Program Audit 20,000 20,600 21,210
Loan Repayment 0 132,750 132,750
Purchased Business Services 43,500 89,610 138,440
Purchased Financial Services 29,000 59,740 92,290
Contingency Fund 189,419 382,694 821,020
Subtotal - Business Services 436,859 870,334 1,359,840
Student Services
Information Technology 167,330 334,660 501,990
Telephone Line 2,401 4,802 7,200
Internet Access 38,280 76,560 114,840
Technical Support 17,690 35,380 53,070
Special Education Equipment and Contract Services 105,000 210,000 315,000
Purchased Student Services 87,000 179,220 276,890
Subtotal - Student Services 417,701 840,622 1,268,990
Board of Directors
Workshops and Conferences 5,000 5,150 5,300
Annual Report 5,800 11,600 17,400
Meetings and Travel 17,500 18,025 18,560
Subtotal - Board of Directors 28,300 34,775 41,270
TOTAL EXPENDITURES 1,846,736 3,493,365 5,394,380

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

Exhibit 1-A

Budget Narrative

Enrollment and Revenues

The strength of America's public schools is the universality of access to education for all students. However, there are many kinds of students whose learning needs are not well served in the typical classroom. They include students who are homebound or hospital-bound due to illness or disability; students in group homes or institutional settings; students at-risk of academic failure who may particularly benefit from intensive personalized instruction; students whose exceptional abilities place them far ahead of or far behind their peers; students whose families have opted for home schooling; students pursuing artistic or athletic careers that require a flexible school schedule; and students in isolated rural areas whose educational options are limited by transportation barriers and local school resources. NCA plans to target these students (29,000 conservatively estimated in Colorado) and projects achieving penetration objectives of approximately 1%, 2% and 3% of this population during the first three years of operation. Marketing initiatives, which will be locally oriented, will be designed to increase penetration as well as to replace students leaving NCA. Overall student enrollment will increase each year due to an increase in penetration and the addition of new grade levels.

Revenues - NCA is budgeting PPOR to be $5,548, which is the Total Program Funding less 5% for district needs. To estimate the incremental funding to cover Special Education costs, NCA used 30% of the costs of adaptive technologies for students and teachers, based on estimates from the CDE Charter School Office. NCA intends to refine this estimate in conjunction with the district. To estimate revenue from Federal Sources, NCA used an estimate of $193/student (source: Federal Funds Information Service). In addition, NCA plans on taking a $150,000 loan in year 1 to cover the costs of the first year.

We have attempted to be conservative in our revenue projections, and intend to aggressively seek grants and donations, which will improve the school's ability to more robustly fund areas of the school, particularly with regard to staffing.

School Administration

School Director- NCA anticipates hiring an experienced School Director at $70,000 per year with an annual salary increase of 3%.

Assistant School Director - For every 600 students, NCA plans to hire one individual to support the School Director. The salary for this position will be $55,000 per year with an annual increase of 3%.

Community Liaison - This professional will be responsible for community outreach programs and for keeping abreast of pending regulatory changes. This individual will be paid $45,000 with an annual increase of 3%.

Community Liaison Support - For every 600 students, NCA will hire one individual to support the primary Community Liaison. The salary for this position will be $35,000 with an annual increase of 3%.

Lead Guidance Counselor - NCA plans to hire a lead guidance counselor for $42,500 per year with an annual increase of 3%.

Guidance Counselor - For every 300 students, NCA will hire one individual to supplement the Lead Guidance Counselor. The salary for this position will be $40,000 per year with an annual

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

increase of 3%.

Office Assistant - One office assistant / receptionist will be hired to support all of the administrative staff. This individual will be hired at $30,000 per year with an annual salary increase of 3%.

Payroll Taxes - 7.7% of salaries and wages.

Health Insurance - 19% of salaries and wages.

Retirement Benefits - 2% of salaries and wages.

Professional Development - NCA has budgeted approximately $2,500 per administrative employee for annual professional development sessions.

Office Supplies - NCA expects to spend approximately $550 per employee each year for general office supplies and materials.

Information Technology - NCA plans to lease computers and related peripherals, such as printers and fax machines, for all the administrative staff at a cost of $45 per month.

Rent and Utilities - NCA anticipates leasing office space for its administrative staff with some meeting space available for its teachers. For the purposes of this budget, NCA has assumed that it will require 200 square feet per administrative employee at a cost of $35 per square foot. This is expected to cover rent, office equipment, furniture and all utilities, including telephone service.

Travel - NCA has budgeted annual travel costs of $2,400 for its school administrators and $4,800 for its community liaisons.

Recruiting - One-time cost for recruiting the administrative staff. Estimated at 20% of salaries.

Instructional Staff

Teachers - NCA plans to hire both full-time and part-time teachers, and will target maintaining a 30 to 1 student-teacher ratio. NCA has assumed an average teacher salary of $31,803 per year based on a 4th year teacher with a B.A. As mentioned in the revenues, NCA plans to aggressively seek grants and donations, with much of this money aimed at increasing salaries to attract the top, experienced teachers that will make NCA a success.

Substitutes - NCA expects to maintain a 90% teacher attendance rate and will hire substitutes at an hourly rate that is 50% of the cost of a permanent teacher.

Payroll Taxes - 7.7% of salaries and wages.

Health Insurance - 19% of salaries and wages.

Retirement Benefits - 2% of salaries and wages.


Purchased Instructional Services - Payments by NCA to Sylvan e-Solutions for managing all technology and training services for teachers, including acquiring and configuring all computers. Sylvan e-Solutions will also be responsible for managing and delivering all print and electronic

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

instructional materials as well as for providing the instructional management and delivery system and assessment services.

Professional Development - NCA plans to spend approximately $2,500 per teacher each year on professional development. NCA will host an annual off-site conference where training sessions and networking events will be scheduled.

Special Education Equipment -NCA plans to equip 20% of its teachers with adaptive technologies and supplies to assist Special Education students. For each of these teachers, NCA plans to spend $600 in equipment and materials.

Student Assessment/Testing - NCA expects to pay $20 per student each year to administer assessment services in addition to the state sponsored CSAP.

Supplies/Materials - Instructional - NCA expects to spend $100 per teacher annually for general and miscellaneous supplies.

Textbooks - NCA plans to spend approximately $62 per student each year on textbooks to supplement its on-line curriculum.

Information Technology - NCA plans to lease laptop computers and related peripherals, such as printers and fax machines, for all teachers at a cost of $48 per month. This line item also includes annual software license fees of $100 per employee.

Internet Access - All NCA teachers will have high-speed Internet access through a DSL or broadband connection in order to better serve parents and students. NCA has budgeted $45 per month per teacher for this service.

Telephone - In addition to using e-mails and chat rooms, NCA anticipates that 33% of its parents will call teachers for questions on curriculum and other instrutional matters each month for up to 10 minutes per call at a cost of 8 cents per minute.

Workbooks - NCA plans to spend approximately $12 per student each year on workbooks to complement its textbooks.

On-Line Curriculum - NCA has budgeted $300 per student each year for access to on-line curriculum that parents can download to deliver instruction.

Textbook Shipping - NCA plans to ground ship texbooks and workbooks to all students at an annual cost of $20 per student.

Business Services

Legal and Accounting - NCA has budgeted $50,000 per year for legal and accounting services, which will be outsourced to local firms. A 3% annual increase has been assumed.

Advertising/Public Relations/Marketing - Includes marketing costs required to enroll students as well as to recruit new teachers. NCA expects to incur approximately $200 in marketing costs (open houses, print advertising, direct mail, etc.) to enroll each new student. In addition, NCA plans to spend another $100 in marketing costs to recruit each new teacher. These marketing expenditures will be targeted at teacher-oriented print media and direct mail campaigns. Marketing expenditures also include call center costs for answering general inquiries about NCA's programs and curriculum from prospective students and parents.

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

Insurance - Includes estimates for obtaining the following insurance: 1) comprehensive general liability, 2) officers and directors/errors and omissions, 3) property insurance, 4) workers compensation and 5) umbrella coverage.

Fees, Dues and Memberships - NCA plans to spend $11,000 annually for subscriptions to industry newsletters and magazines as well as for dues for professional organizations. A 3% annual increase has been assumed.

Program Audit - Anticipated cost for contracting a reputable firm to provide a comprehensive program audit each year. A 3% annual increase has been assumed.

Loan Repayment - Based on an expected interest-free loan with inflation protection from Sylvan e-Solutions. Assumes a 2-year start-up grace period and 7-year payback period with flat, annual payments of $132,750.

Purchased Business Services - Payments by NCA to Sylvan e-Solutions for managing all marketing campaigns and call center activities and maintaining the Web site.

Purchased Financial Services - Payment to for providing payroll, accounting and treasury services.

Contingency Fund - For unexpected costs that may come up during the school year.

Student Services

Information Technology - NCA plans to lease desktop computers and related peripherals, such as printers and fax machines, for all students at a cost of $39 per month. This line item also includes annual software license fees of $100 per student. Each student computer will be configured with appropriate software, Internet connection and diagnostic tools for aiding in technical support. NCA also expects to pay approximately $2 per year on each student for access to a student information system as well as $7 per year on each student for an Internet filter service.

Telephone Line - For students who come from economically disadvantaged households and cannot afford a telephone line, NCA plans to provide this service at no charge. NCA projects that 3% of its students will be eligible for this program, and expects to pay $23 per month for each student.

Internet Access - NCA plans to pay $11 per month for each student so that all students will have Internet access.

Technical Support - NCA plans to spend approximately $61 per month on each student to provide technical support, which will be delivered via a call center.

Special Education Equipment and Contract Services - NCA plans to equip each Special Education student with adaptive technologies and supplies at an average cost of $600 per student. In addition, NCA plans to contract a reputable firm for any services its teachers cannot provide. NCA has budgeted $2,400 per student for contract services.

Purchased Student Services - Payments by NCA to Sylvan e-Solutions for managing all student technology services, including acquiring and configuring all computers, and technical support activities.

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

Board of Directors

Workshops and Conferences - NCA plans to spend $5,000 annually so that its board members can attend workshops and conferences.

Annual Report - NCA plans to publish an annual report each year to be distributed to students/parents, state regulators, legislators, teachers and community leaders. The production and distribution of annual reports will be outsourced and is expected to cost $10 per copy.

Meetings and Travel - NCA plans to reimburse approximately $3,500 to each board member for costs they incur in order to attend all board meetings.

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

Question 1: How does the proposed Charter align with the Charter School Act?
Charter Schools Act New Connections Academy Proposal
Legislative declaration
(1)(b) "the best education decisions are made by those who know students best and who are responsible for implementing the decisions" and (1)(c) "[d]ifferent pupils learn differently and public school programs should be designed to fit the needs of individual pupils."
Executive Summary
The mission of the New Connections Academy (NCA) is to enable each student to maximize his or her potential and meet the highest performance standards through a uniquely individualized learning program that combines the best in virtual education with very real connections among students, family, teachers, and the community. Through partnerships with public schools, NCA seeks to provide Colorado with a truly innovative virtual learning model for students, parents, and teachers who seek-for a variety of developmental, physical, or personal reasons-an effective alternative to the conventional classroom.
Enacted for the following purposes:
22-30.5-102 (2)(a)
To improve pupil learning by creating schools with high, rigorous standards for pupil performance;
NCA Goal & Objectives, 1: Improve student learning.
High academic expectations, ongoing assessment, and individualized instruction provide the foundation for NCA's delivery of educational content through a computer-based educational system.
22-30.5-102 (2)(b)
To increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving;
NCA Goal & Objectives, 2: Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are identified as at-risk or academically gifted.
Although NCA's virtual learning environment will provide valuable educational opportunities for all learners, the Personalized Learning Plan is uniquely structured to meet the under-served needs of learners at both ends of the learning spectrum (gifted and learning disabled)... In addition to providing individualized academic opportunity, NCA's educational delivery system also provides an alternative environment for those students who are unable to function or succeed in the regular public school environment and who may be at-risk for dropping out.
22-30.5-102 (2)(c) and (d)
To encourage diverse approaches to learning and education and the use of different, proven, or innovative teaching methods and to allow the
NCA Goal & Objectives, 3: Encourage the use of different, innovative teaching methods.
NCA is built around a most innovative method of using educational technology: to assess, manage, and promote each student's progress through a custom tailored

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

development of different and innovative forms of measuring pupil learning and achievement learning plan-even when actual instruction takes place offline, person to person, at home, or in the community. The NCA technology system provides almost instantaneous feedback to identify each student's academic strengths and weaknesses ... The technology-enabled Personalized Learning Plan also means that NCA teachers must be trained to provide instruction in a variety of ways to accommodate the entire spectrum of learning needs and styles. At NCA, teachers will know if a particular student needs plenty of structure in math but an equal amount of freedom in reading, craves real world science experiences but makes greatest gains in history through computer simulations with other students-and be prepared to facilitate... all of the above.
22-30.5-102 (2)(e)
To create new professional development opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site
NCA Goal & Objectives, 4: Create new professional opportunities for teachers.
NCA provides a unique opportunity for Colorado educators to teach a smaller, sustained core group of students from the location of their choice. NCA intends to offer full-time positions, where teachers will be responsible for approximately 30 students, and part-time positions where teachers will be responsible for approximately 15 students. The choice of teaching on a full-time or part-time basis, as well as the freedom to teach from any site which connects to the Internet, provides Colorado teachers with unparalleled choice and flexibility.
22-30.5-102 (2)(f)
To provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of education opportunities that are available within the public school system
NCA Goal & Objectives, 5: Provide parents and students with expanded choices and types of educational opportunities available within the public school system.
NCA provides parents and students with a complete, alternative educational model. Through the PLP, parents have a stronger voice in their child's education and intellectual development, and a high degree of choice and flexibility regarding instructional materials, delivery methods, and learning strategies.
22-30.5-102 (2)(g)
To encourage parental and community involvement in schools
NCA Educational Program, 3: A complete "co-learner" team focused on each learner's success.
At NCA, parents and community members play a pivotal role in the student's education. A parent or other adult responsible for the student's care-such as a group home staff member, community worker, foster parent, or grandparent- serve as the learning coach, interacting daily as an actively engaged and fully

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

committed member of the learning team along with the student and the Colorado certified teaching staff.

NCA Educational Program, 5: The community connection for forging social bonds and developing citizenship.
Through local community service activities that allow students to apply their academic skills while interacting with other NCA students in their immediate geographic area

22-30.5-102 (2)(h)
To hold charter schools accountable for meeting state board and school district content standards
NCA Goal & Objectives, 6: Hold charter schools accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results.
NCA is dedicated to meeting and exceeding Colorado's goals and grade level requirements in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students will participate in the end-of-grade testing as required by the Colorado Student Assessment Program. In addition to Colorado's end-of-grade testing, NCA students will use another national standardized test, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) so that the progress of NCA students may be measured against a national average. NCA also combines the formal standardized educational evaluations with informal assessments (such as quizzes and simulations) and more subjective, individualized assessment tools such as portfolios.
22-30.5-103 Definitions NA
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(1) and (2)
New Connections Academy is proposed as a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home-based school which operates within the Denver Public School District (in cooperation with a coalition of neighboring Front Range districts). New Connections Academy shall comply with all applicable laws and charter provisions.
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(3) Non discrimination in admissions
New Connections Academy Enrollment Policy/Admissions
New Connections Academy does not discriminate against any student on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability.
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority New Connections Academy looks forward to discussions with Denver Public Schools toward fine-tuning its proposed governance structure "in a manner agreed

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

(4) Governing body to by the charter school applicant and the local board of education."
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(5) Tuition
New Connections Academy will not charge tuition
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(6) Waivers
New Connections Academy, Waivers
A list of the waivers from regulations that New Connections Academy plans to submit with the District to the state is included in Exhibit 6 of the Appendix of the application. NCA plans to work with the district to determine if this is the correct set of waiver requests to submit.
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(7) Operations
See New Connections Academy proposal sections: VII Proposed Budget; XI Governance and Operation; XII Employee Relations; XIII Liability and Insurance; XIV Facility; XV Transportation Plan
22.30.5-104 Charter school - requirements - authority
(8) Educational program
See New Connections Academy proposal sections: V Educational Program and Standards; VI Plan for Evaluating Pupil Performance
22.30.5-105 Charter schools - contract contents - regulation In process
22.30.5-106 Charter application - contents Provided in New Connections Academy Charter School Application of 10/1/01
22.30.5-107 Charter application - process Underway
22.30.5-108 Appeal - standard of review - procedures Included in Exhibit 7 of the Appendix of Charter School Application of 10/1/01
22.30.5-109 Charter schools - restrictions - establishment - number NA
22.30.5-110 Charter schools - term - renewal of charter - grounds for non-renewal or revocation New Connections Academy is applying for a charter of five years duration
22.30.5-111 Charter schools -employee options NA (District)

New Connections Academy DSIAC 10/25/01

22.30.5-112 Charter schools - financing - guidelines New Connections Academy proposal sections: VII Proposed Budget and Appendices 1A and 1B, Budget Narrative and Detail.
22.30.5-113 Charter schools - evaluation - report NA
22.30.5-114 Repeal of part NA
22.30.5-115 Construction of article - severability NA