SB 0659 Revises charter school laws
Sponsor:House Co-Sponsor(s)
LR Number:2784S.01I Fiscal Note:2784-01
Last Action:05/17/02 - S Inf Calendar S Bills for Perfection Journal page:
Effective Date:August 28, 2002
Full Bill Text | All Actions | Available Summaries | Senate Home Page | List of 2002 Senate Bills
Current Bill Summary

SB 659 This act makes many revisions to laws concerning charter schools and public school teachers.

TEACHERS & STAFF - The act allows the Kansas City Missouri School District to hire retired teachers and allows them to continue receiving their pensions while returning to teaching for up to two years (currently available only in City of St Louis). The retirement system shall determine the actuarial cost of such rehiring, and the cost shall be paid by the district. District teachers employed in charter schools shall retain tenure status and shall retain seniority rights for three years. Charter schools are permitted to hire noncertificated administrators.

CHARTER SCHOOL LOCATIONS - Charter schools may be operated in the currently authorized territories, even if the existing school district no longer exists or includes that territory. The act clarifies that charter schools may be sponsored by a public 4-year college or university in a county containing an eligible school district, even if the college or university is not in the school district.

CONVERSION TO CHARTER SCHOOLS - Increases the number of public school buildings in a school district which may be converted to charter school use from five percent to ten percent, with discretion given to the local school board. The act requires urban school districts to lease buildings to charter schools on substantially equivalent terms and at a price which is substantially equivalent and requires good-faith negotiations by such districts, for fair market value. The requirements regarding lease of buildings shall not apply to contracts in existence on January 1, 2002.

PROCESS FOR CHARTERING A SCHOOL - The act revises the procedure and timeline for chartering a school. A charter school proponent shall provide the local school district and the State Board of Education with copies of the charter school application within five days of submitting the application to the proposed sponsor. A charter application must be provided to a proposed sponsor at least 11 months prior to the proposed starting date for the school. The sponsor's decision of approval or denial must be made within 90 days of filing the proposed charter (rather than the current 60); if the charter is denied, written notice must be served on the State Board of Education within 5 days. The State Board has 60 days to deny or grant a proposed charter and shall provide reasons for denial in writing, if applicable.

GRANT FUNDING FOR SPONSORS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS - The act creates a Charter School Sponsor Oversight Fund, with grant funding administered by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Funds shall be transferred annually by the State Treasurer, based upon the number of charter schools and charter school enrollment the previous year. Approved sponsors shall receive, from the fund, $23,400 per school sponsored the previous year plus 0.5% of per pupil operating revenues for each student enrolled in such school the previous year. Any sponsor may apply and must demonstrate compliance of all requirements of law. Grant funds shall be prorated if necessary when funds are inadequate. Unused funds shall be retained and used to reduce the next year's withholding from charter school revenues.

CHARTER SCHOOL BOARDS Sponsors must perform criminal background checks on the members of the Board of Directors of any nonprofit corporation applying to establish a charter school, prior to granting or renewing a charter. No member of a charter school board may be employed by the charter school nor have a significant interest in any entity employed by or contracting with the board.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PERFORMANCE Sponsors must provide documentation establishing compliance with charter school laws. Sponsors found to have violated the charter school law requirements may have their ability to sponsor new schools suspended for up to four years by the State Board of Education; suspension is mandatory for subsequent violations. Charter schools are required to employ the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests. Charter schools shall provide all information needed to confirm compliance with all requirements of the charter and all charter school laws.

PUBLIC REPORTING Charter schools are required to publish audits and financial reports. Public reporting shall include results of background checks of charter board members. A charter may be revoked for failure to provide necessary compliance information, or the sponsor may require specified remedial action of the school. Charter schools must make available the charter and public report card to the parent of guardian of any pupil eligible to seek to enroll at the school. Reasonable fees may be charged for such copies.

LEGAL LIABILITY Charter school board members, officers and employees who willfully violate charter school laws or neglect to perform any duty in the charter school laws are guilty of a misdemeanor as other public school employees are under current law. A charter school board may participate in the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund to the same extent as a school board.

The act contains penalty provisions.

This act is similar to SB 512 (2001).