In a surprising development, Jefferson County, the school district which has drawn most of the protest from pro-charter groups, is apparently off the hook. The sweetheart language reads,
A district that has, as of the date of this act, an established student assignment plan that includes school choice and magnet options shall not be required to authorize charter schools under this act.It's hard to imagine the status quo satisfying Jefferson County charter advocates.
This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:
A draft of charter school legislation released Friday afternoon by the Kentucky Department of Education makes significant changes in the language of House Bill 109, the charter school bill passed by the state Senate late in the 2010 General Assembly but not considered by the House of Representatives.
The bill language, provided by Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in his Fast Five on Friday e-mail to state educations leaders, is described as “an attempt from KDE staff to address written concerns received at the department” from the Kentucky School Boards Association, the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky Education Association...
The Jefferson County Board of Education would appear to be exempted from being required to authorize charters if the bill becomes law. The district could be the only one that meets the exemption of having an existing student assignment plan, school choice and magnet schools, elementary to qualify for the exemption.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman this week announced his opposition to House Bill 109, indicating the district might pull its endorsement of Kentucky’s Race to the Top $175 school reform funding application if such legislation becomes law in Kentucky. Commisioner Holliday has sought charter school legislation in order to strengthen the state’s second round Race to the Top application.
Revised Text of HB 109 Here:
According to the bill,
The mission of charter schools is to:
A charter school shall be a public school within the school district that grants its charter and shall be accountable to the school district's local board of education for purposes of ensuring compliance with applicable laws and charter provisions.
(a) Focus on closing achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing groups of public school students by expanding learning experiences for students who are identified as academically low-achieving;
(b) Increase pupil learning through the implementation of high, rigorous standards for pupil performance;
(c) Provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of education opportunities that are available within the public school system; and
(d) Be allowed freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional levels of results-driven accountability.
Other snippets from the bill:
- A majority of the school's students [must] reside within the school district.
- [An existing school could convert to a charter on a vote of] 75% of the faculty at the school and 75% of the voting parents of students enrolled in the school
- [Charters would be] subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services.
- Enrollment decisions [must be] made in a nondiscriminatory manner.
- [Charters can change instructional practices but] curriculum, assessment, and accountability [remain the province of the state].
- A charter school shall not charge tuition... [and must submit a plan] to meet students' transportation needs [and] health and food services.
- [A charter] shall be responsible for its own operation...[ and must] adhere to the same health, safety, and facility requirements as other public schools.
- The charter shall have standing to sue and be sued... [and must submit to an] annual audit of the financial and administrative operations.
- A charter school’s results on state assessments shall be included and reported in the chartering district’s assessment reports...[and] shall meet or exceed the student performance standards adopted by the state board.
- The charter school application shall ... [comply with] any locally bargained contract.
- [Must describe] rules and procedures by which students may be disciplined, including but not limited to expulsion or suspension from the school.
- No person, group, or organization may submit an application to convert a private school or a nonpublic home-based education program into a charter school or to create a charter school which is a nonpublic home-based educational program.