Update: Senator Neal's bill request has now been filed as Senate Bill 70. An updated summary of his bill, labeled as for SB 70, is available here.
Moving toward the 2017 legislative session, Senator Gerald Neal has a new bill request on charter schools. Using the eight questions from the Prichard Committee's Informational Guide, here's a summary of his legislation. A two-page version to print out is available here, and you can download a complete copy of the bill request here.
WHAT STUDENT RESULTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE EXPECTED TO DELIVER?
Each charter will have a “performance framework” that includes “indicators, measures and metrics” for student academic proficiency, student academic growth, achievement gaps, attendance, student health and safety (including behavior data, suspensions, and expulsions), recurrent enrollment from year to year, college or career readiness at the end of grade 12, financial performance and sustainability, and board of directors' performance and stewardship. The framework can also include “additional rigorous, valid, and reliable indicators proposed by a charter school or authorizer to augment external evaluations of its performance.”
Each school will also have “student learning performance targets … set, in accordance with the state accountability system.”
WHICH PUBLIC SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS WILL BE WAIVED, AND WHICH REQUIREMENTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE TO FOLLOW?
- State assessments and school report card data
- Health and safety laws (including vaccinations, emergency drills, criminal record checks, weapons rules, student seclusion and restraint rules)
- Civil and disability rights, including individualized education plans.
- Plans for identifying and serving gifted students and students who are academically behind “including but not limited to the school's plan for compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations” on serving those students.
- School staff being school district employees, fitting state certification requirements and receiving benefits and collective bargaining agreement protections benefits (appears to include single salary schedule)
- MUNIS records, financial audits, and state purchasing rules
- Open meetings and open records rules
- Program reviews
- Free and reduced-price meals for low-income students (application must describe “the health and food services to be provided to students attending the school, if health and food services are not provided by the authorizer”)
- 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
- 2% contingency reserve
HOW WILL STUDENTS BE ADMITTED OR ASSIGNED TO CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Students must live in the school district. If parents apply by April 1, students will be admitted if they already attend the school, have siblings who attend the school or parents who are teachers or administrators there, attend “needs improvement” schools under state accountability rules, or qualify for free or reduced price lunches. If too many students from those groups apply, a lottery will be used to decide who will be admitted. If too few students from those groups apply, additional students who apply by May 15 will be admitted in order of their applications.
Possible question: If there are openings after May 15, will students be able to apply for those slots?
WHO WILL AUTHORIZE CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Charters will be authorized by “the local school board of the largest local school district located in a county with a consolidated local government.” In practice that means the Fayette and Jefferson County boards of education. If an application is denied, there can be an appeal to the Kentucky Board of Education about the process for the denial, and that Board can direct the local board to use the appropriate process.
Authorizers will be encouraged to give preference to applicants with “intent, capacity, and capability” to serve students at risk of failure, who go to schools where 65% of students have low incomes, or who have individualized education program for students who are blind or have impaired vision (KRS 158.281).
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” can apply, with a January 1 deadline. Applications to convert a private school to a charter school or to create a charter school “wholly or partly under the control or direction of any religious denomination or affiliation” will be rejected.
At least half of the members of the charter school’s board of directors must be parents of students who are enrolled or will be enrolled during the member’s service.
Charter school boards can contract with a non-profit education service provider, but budgets for that work must available on line and a provider that is paid more than $10,000 is subject to open records rules for all records related to the contract
Possible questions: Does the charter school board need to be incorporated? Does it need to be a non-profit organization?
WILL CHARTER SCHOOL NUMBERS AND ENROLLMENTS BE SUBJECT TO CAPS?
Each of the two authorizing school boards will be able to authorize two charter schools each year.
HOW WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE CLOSED IF THEY DO NOT DELIVER?
Charter revocation or nonrenewal will be mandatory after three consecutive years when the school misses state student performance measures adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education under KRS 158.6453 and program requirements found in the charter school's contract.
Charter revocation, nonrenewal, or probation will be also be allowed (not required) if the school does not make enough progress on state learning measures and the charter contract’s performance requirements, fails to follow accounting rules, or violates a set of other rules.
WHAT FUNDING WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS RECEIVE?
The charter school and authorizing school board will negotiate funding, providing at least “levels comparable to funding provided to other schools in the local school district.” The charter school will also receive “moneys generated under federal and state categorical aid programs for students that are eligible for the aid in charter schools in the same manner as distributed for eligible students in non-charter schools.”
The district will keep all transportation funding, and will provide transportation between students’ homes and charter schools if that does not require “expanding existing bus service.”
Possible questions: Will charter schools be eligible for state facilities funding? Will they receive any portion of district funding allocated for facilities operations, maintenance, construction, or purchase?