The final version of SB 7029, the charter school bill, took awhile to locate. Here it is! There is along list of provisions, some minor and some major. The highlights follow. They are easy to scan. Most do little damage. Some good things happened. Considering what could have been, we can put our energies toward making good things happen next year.
Open Enrollment. Students now are eligible to enroll in any public or charter school with available space. There are priority provisions. In some districts, these provisions are likely to complicate teacher assignments and planning since the estimated number of students will be more difficult to predict in many locations. A within school student transfer request process to a different teacher must be established.
Athletics. Students who choose new schools will be immediately eligible to participate in sports. If the change in enrollment occurs during an academic year, there are limits on sports eligibility.
- Charter school applicants must disclose the names of board members, education service provider and other schools operated by the provider including those closed and the financial records.
- Charters may defer opening for two years.
- Admission or dismissal must not be based on academic performance.
- Charter boards may terminate charter voluntarily.
- Districts must review financial records monthly or quarterly provided by charter board.
- Charters are automatically closed (after appeals) when two consecutive ‘F’ grades are received.
- Charters must appoint a local parent representative for each of its schools who may be a board member, staff member or contracted representative.
- Board meeting must be held twice a year locally but members may appear using communication media. Only the principal or director must be physically present.
- Monthly payment schedules from district to charters have been revised to ease flow of money to charters.
- Annual audits do not have to reveal any of the financial emergency provisions in statute for the most recent fiscal year of the audit. WHAT?
- Capital outlay will be categorized and funding will be weighted as follows:
- Charters with 75% FRL = 1.25
- Charters with 25% ESE = 1.25
- Charters with both of the above categories =1.5
- All other charters = 1.0
- Special Facility Construction Funding: To be eligible, small districts must levy the maximum amount allowable under its nonexempt property value or from its school capital outlay surtax for three years prior to a request from the fund including. The required levy will be one mill related to the local capital outlay discretionary millage or equivalent surtax. A new cost study is to be commissioned. Fifty percent of the approved special facility funding comes from the state.
- Exceptions to Construction Requirements: School Boards may request flexibility on meeting certain existing requirements for non load bearing walls, relocatables, lighting,
- Districts may not require students to fulfill online course requirements during the school day. or in addition to the full school day.
- Students may pass an online course assessment without taking the course.
CAPE Teacher Bonus
A $75 or $100 dollar per student bonus to teachers whose students achieve certain levels on the CAPE certification examinations.
There are numerous other regulations, most notably for biliteracy programs and a performance improvement plan for Vocational Rehabilitation.