HB 7029: School Choice Districts Created with Less Local Control

legislation1Legal frameworks for charter districts plus the creation of the Florida Charter School Institute, move Florida toward a separate educational system from the traditional public school system.

This bill creates the Institute for Charter School Innovation, Charter School Collaborative Networks, High Impact Charter Networks and some greater transparency in the backgrounds of charter school service providers.

The Charter High Impact Charter Network is a structure similar to those in other states that are called takeover districts in low income areas whose public schools are turned into charters.  These take over districts have been the source of significant community resistance and have a poor academic track record.  The bill is sponsored by Representative Bob Cortes from Seminole and Orange Counties.  HB 7029 School Choice will be heard in the House Education Appropriation Committee on Monday.

Major components of the bill are listed below.  The provisions to revise the calculation of full time equivalence for online learning and credit for End of Course exams are in the bill but not included in this summary.

(1): Authorization.  Requires charter school to amend its contract if it becomes an online school.

(2):  Guiding Principles/Purpose of Charter Schools.  Requires reading strategies and parental information on progress for students with deficiencies.

(6):  Application Process and Review:  Reading plan does not have to be the district’s plan.  Names of applicants, service providers and board members must be disclosed.  Other charters operated by providers and their academic and financial history must be disclosed.  Approved charters may defer opening for two years.

(7):  Charter.  Admission or dismissal must not be based on academic performance.  Charter boards may terminate a charter voluntarily.

(9).  Charter School Requirements.  Sponsor shall review monthly or quarterly financial statements.  Sponsor must provide termination letter.  Charter board must appoint parental representative who may be a staff member.  A representative for each school is required and must live in the district.  Boards must meet in the district at least twice a year.

(10) Eligible Students.  Students from failing schools have enrollment preference.

(13)  Charter School Cooperatives.  The terms are broadened to include educational, operational and administrative interests.

(17) Funding.  Surplus funding may be used for educational purposes within the district operated by the not for profit or municipal entity.  Districts must make payments to charters at the beginning of their fiscal year through October based on the projected enrollment.  Modifications occur if fewer than 75% of the projected enrollment.

(20) Services.  High performing school proposal may be submitted to the Charter School Institute for approval. A high performing charter school is exempt from the restriction of only one charter in districts with schools having a school grade of ‘D’ or F in 4 of the past five years.  In such an area, a High Impact Charter Network may be established and will be given priority for state grants

Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation.  technical support for applicants, research closures, best practices, professional development, operations, management, partnership with colleges for student teachers.

Posted in Admission/Dismissal, Audits, Authorization, Charter School Management, Charter Schools, Florida.

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