The New Mexico legislation has strong provisions relating to the charter school management and facilities. SB 236 Beffort strengthens these provisions. The proposed bill is instructive because it highlights corrective measures to improve the regulations and oversight of charter facilities and conflict of interest.
These proposals can inform the regulations in other states.
Conflict of Interest:
- Charter board members may not serve on more than one charter board. Board members or employees may not serve on a local school board.
- Charter board members cannot serve as board member or school employee if the person or an immediate family member is an owner, agent of, contractor with or has a financial interest in a for-profit or nonprofit entity that contracts directly or services goods or facilities. Violation renders the contract void. They cannot participate in chartering authority review and be a board member. The change in law requires that conflict of interest statements be made annually. Moreover, violations render contracts ‘void’ instead of ‘voidable’.
Public school facilities shall provide available facilities for a charter unless used for other educational purposes with reasonable lease payments approved by public school capital outlay council at the local market rate plus any reimbursement for actual direct costs incurred by the school district in providing the facilities, lease payments retained by district. Charter schools:
- may pay for operation and maintenance or contract with school district
- are eligible for local and state capital outlay funds.
- negotiate with districts for transportation with a limit beyond district boundary.
- financed with a general obligation bond issued by a local school board, the facility shall revert to the local school board.
- may not contract with a for profit management firm.
- facilities rating is equal to or better than the average New Mexico condition index for public schools.
- facilities must be public or owned by the charter or a lease-purchase agreement and approved by PS Lease Purchase act or if not, facility meets statewide adequacy standards and owner is obligated to maintain standards at no additional cost, and no public buildings are available or the owner is a nonprofit entity specifically organized to provide the facility for the charter school.
State capital outlay funds provide for facility fund lease payments $700 per student adjust by consumer price index; can be used as a state match to obtain federal grants from NCLB. The change in legislation requires a standard facility lease for all new charter schools including lease amendments and renewals after July 1, 2015.
Attribution: The photo refers to the New Mexico Center for Education Policy Research report: At Risk our Children, Our Future.