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KIPP board discusses possibility of merging schools’ non profit status

By Arianna Skibell and Jennifer Luna

During an annual meeting early in February, New York City’s Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) board members unanimously voted to begin discussing consolidating two of their schools under the same charter umbrella.

The consolidation would be part of a broader merger of schools under the same non-profit administrative structure so the KIPP charter school chain doesn’t need to maintain separate charter contracts with the New York City Department of Education for each school.

KIPP AMP in Brooklyn and KIPP Infinity in Manhattan will join two other local KIPP schools (KIPP Washington Heights and KIPP STAR) under the same non-profit umbrella. School officials say the move will not affect students and teachers but will cut down on bureaucracy since the network will not have to deal with so much separate paperwork for each of its schools.

KIPP managing director Vicki Zubovic said the merger process is a lengthy one, and the February discussion was just the start.

Beginning as a middle school in the South Bronx in 1995, KIPP New York’s 11 schools are located in predominantly low-income neighborhoods in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Later in the meeting, KIPP’s senior relationship manager Nancy Livingston discussed second quarter data on student reading results. Livingston and her put three methods in place for improving literacy instruction, but the data reveals that student gains are not as significant as they had hoped, and more work is needed.

Alicia Johnson also accepted her position as the new chief operating officer at KIPP New York. Johnson began working with KIPP charter schools seven years ago, and will replace Patrick Brennan. New superintendent Jim Manly will take over July 1 for Josh Zoia.

While the majority of the meeting was open to the public, the board conducted two separate executive sessions in private. The topics of the private sessions were not disclosed.

While KIPP NYC has no plans to open more schools, it is still adding grades to existing schools. Officials expect student enrollment to increase from 4,200 to 5,000 by 2018.

This story is part of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s ongoing coverage of charter school board meetings this spring. 

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