| By Susan Perkins Weston |
Two charter bills filed this past Tuesday offer very similar rules for starting charter schools, but vary on details of who will be able to authorize those schools, how many schools can be opened, and where they can be located.
For Senate Bill 253, sponsored by Senators Wilson, Givens, and Seum, you can download our two-page Prichard analysis based on eight key questions here. For House Bill 589, sponsored by Representative Montell, a matching summary is here. You can download each bill from the online legislative record here.
The rest of this post combines the two summaries, adding green highlighting when discussing places where the two bills handle issues differently.
WHAT STUDENT RESULTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE EXPECTED TO DELIVER?
Charter schools will be accountable for “annual student achievement performance targets … set, in accordance with the state accountability system, by each public charter school in conjunction with its authorizer, and those measures shall be designed to help each school meet applicable federal, state, and authorizer goals.”
Charter schools will also propose their own performance frameworks that include indicators for student proficiency, student growth, achievement gaps, attendance, returning enrollment from year to year, college or career readiness, financial performance, and the board’s performance and stewardship, with the option of including additional indicators.
Possible Questions: Do targets “in accordance with the state accountability system” include annual measurable objectives, focus school criteria, and priority school criteria? Do they include professional growth and effectiveness system results?
WHICH PUBLIC SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS WILL BE WAIVED, AND WHICH REQUIREMENTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE TO FOLLOW?
- Plans for identifying and serving gifted students and students who are academically behind (examples: gifted student service plans, response to intervention, extended school services, accelerated learning)
- State assessments and school report card data
- Health and safety laws (examples: vaccinations, emergency drills, criminal record checks, weapons rules, student seclusion and restraint rules)
- Civil and disability rights (example: individual education plans (IEPs) as required by KRS 157.196)
- KTRS/CERS retirement and state health insurance for employees
- Financial audits and state purchasing rules
- Open records and open meetings
- Free and reduced-price meals for low-income students
- Student learning services, including primary talent pool, primary program, family resource and youth services centers, individual learning plans, college-level courses in high school, and class size caps
- Program reviews and their use in accountability
- Teacher certification and single salary schedule
- 2% contingency reserve
Possible Questions: Do health requirements include physical activity in grades K-5? Do civil and disability rights include Title IX gender equality and alternate diplomas? Must school report card data be gathered using Infinite Campus?
HOW WILL STUDENTS BE ADMITTED OR ASSIGNED TO CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Students of school age will be admitted if they apply to a charter school and are currently enrolled in a “needs improvement” school or if they receive free/reduced-price meals and live in the district where the school is located. Applicants will also be admitted if their siblings attend the school or their parents are teachers or administrators there, and they will be able to continue attending if they are already enrolled at the school. If a school has too few applicants who fit those rules, enrollment will be opened up for any student who lives in the district where the school is located to apply for admission until May 15. If the school has too many applicants, a lottery will be used, except that preference will go to students already enrolled, their siblings, and children whose parents work at the school.
Possible Question: When will lotteries be held for schools that are over capacity?
WHO WILL AUTHORIZE CHARTER SCHOOLS?
SB 253: A nine-member state-level Public Charter School Commission will authorize two charter schools per year. Two more charter schools per year will be authorized by local school boards: one by a school board in a county with an urban county government (Fayette) and one in a county with a consolidated local government (Jefferson or possibly Anchorage).
HB 589: A nine-member state-level Public Charter School Commission will authorize a maximum of two charter schools per year in a county with an urban county government (Fayette County) and two in a county with a consolidated local government (Jefferson County). Local school boards will be able to authorize charter schools with in their own districts’ attendance areas.
WHO WILL BE ABLE TO APPLY TO RUN A CHARTER SCHOOL?
“Teachers, parents, school administrators, community residents, public organizations, private organizations, or a combination thereof” will be able to apply for a charter. The school will have to be “administered by a charter school board of directors” but the bill does not say it will have to be organized as a corporation. The school will have to apply for tax-exempt status within six months after charter approval. (A nonprofit education services provider can be chosen by the charter board to provide “educational design, implementation, or comprehensive management” of the school, but the charter board will still have final authority over policy and operations.)
Possible Question: If a charter applies for tax-exempt status and the application is denied, will it be allowed to continue operating?
WILL CHARTER SCHOOL NUMBERS AND ENROLLMENTS BE SUBJECT TO CAPS?
SB 253: The number of charter schools will be capped at four in 2017-18, with four more in each of the next four years, for a total of twenty by 2021-22.
HB 589: Charter schools authorized by the Commission will be capped at four in 2017-18, with four more in each of the next four years, for a total of twenty by 2021-22. Charters authorized by local boards will not be capped.
Enrollment will not be capped.
Section 1(3) of the bill says that a charter may only enroll students who live in the district where it is located. However, Section 12(2) calls for admission of students from “needs improvement” schools and children of the school’s teachers and administrators, without listing that residency requirement. Section 12(2) also call for admission of students who currently attend the school and their siblings, which could include those who have moved out of the district since their original enrollment.
Possible Questions: Can charter schools admit students who do not currently reside in the district? Can students continue attending a charter school if they move out of the district during the school year?
HOW WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE CLOSED IF THEY DO NOT DELIVER?
A school’s charter must be revoked if the school “does not meet, for three (3) consecutive years, state student performance measures adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education under KRS 158.6453, excluding nontested program reviews, and academic program requirements found in the charter school's contract.”
A school's charter may also be revoked for failure to make significant progress on state accountability measures and on performance measures set in each school’s contract, failure to meet generally accepted accounting standards, or “material and substantial violation” of the school’s charter contract provisions.
WHAT FUNDING WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS RECEIVE?
For charter schools authorized by local school boards, funding will be negotiated between the charter school and the charter authorizer. That funding will at least be comparable to what is provided to other schools in the district where the charter school is located.
For charters authorized by the state commission, funding will match state guaranteed SEEK funding plus the school’s proportionate share of locally-raised “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” funding. The Kentucky Department of Education will pay those amounts to the charter school and deduct them from the school district’s funding.
Both kinds of charter schools will receive categorical funding generated by their students, and both will receive state on-behalf payments for employee health and certified employee retirement.
Charter schools will not receive state transportation funding, but local school districts will be required to transport charter school students from home to school and back.
Possible Questions: Will board-authorized schools receive dollars that districts do not allocate to schools, including those for itinerant staff, extra duty staff, operations and maintenance, central office leadership and other functions?