SS/HCS/HB 473 – This act modifies the laws governing charter schools.
SECTION 29.205 – The State Auditor may audit any charter school in the same manner as any agency of the state.
SECTION 160.400 – In addition to the St. Louis City and Kansas City School Districts, charter schools may be operated in unaccredited districts, provisionally accredited districts if certain criteria are met, and in districts accredited without provisions if sponsored by the local school board.
This act removes the restriction that a sponsoring public four-year college or university have its primary campus in the school district or in a county adjacent to the county in which the district is located. In addition, a community college whose service area encompasses some portion of the district may be a sponsor. Currently, any private four-year college or university located in St. Louis City with an enrollment of one thousand students and an approved teacher preparation program may be a sponsor. This act eliminates the requirement that the institution be located in St. Louis City but requires that its primary campus be located in Missouri. Additional sponsors include any two-year private vocational or technical school, as described in the act, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, and a nonprofit or charitable organization, excluding a nonpublic sectarian or religious institution exempt from federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6).
Except for the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts, changes in a school district's accreditation status will be addressed in the following manner: as a district transitions from unaccredited to provisionally accredited, the district will fall under the requirements of an unaccredited district until it has three consecutive school years of provisional accreditation; and a charter school whose charter provides for the addition of grade levels may continue to add levels until the planned expansion is complete.
The mayor of St. Louis City may request a two-year private vocational or technical school, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, or a nonprofit or charitable organization, excluding a nonpublic sectarian or religious institution exempt from federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6), to consider sponsoring a "workplace charter school."
When a charter school chooses to affiliate with a four-year college or university, the college or university will no longer required to be located within the county in which the school district lies or in an adjacent county.
This act allows a school district or the State Board of Education, when acting as a sponsor, to have expenses associated with sponsorship to be defrayed by having the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education withhold up to 1.5% of the charter school's state and local funding. A sponsor that receives 1.5% funding to defray expenses associated with sponsorship must submit annual reports to the Joint Committee on Education demonstrating compliance with requirements.
A charter school sponsor must develop policies and procedures for the following: the review of a charter school proposal; the granting of a charter; the performance framework of a charter; the renewal, revocation, and nonrenewal processes; additional criteria for oversight of the charter; and procedures to be used when a school closes for the transfer or repository of student records and the disposition of school assets. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is required to provide guidance to sponsors in developing these procedures and policies.
Currently, the State Board of Education has authority to require remedial action for a sponsor, including withholding its funding and suspending, for a period of one year, its ability to sponsor a school. This act allows the State Board to suspend a sponsor's ability to sponsor a school until reauthorized by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education under section 160.403. If the State Board serves as interim sponsor of a charter school, at the end of the three year period, the charter will be subject to certain accountability requirements, as described in the act.
This act allows the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis City School District to sponsor a charter school. For any charter school sponsored by the Special Administrative Board, the charter may contain provisions for the disposition of the charter school's assets upon closure and for which entity may declare itself as the local education agency for school funding purposes.
SECTION 160.403 – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must establish an annual application and approval process for all entities eligible to sponsor charter schools. All information and guidelines for eligible sponsors must be made available by January 1, 2012.
An eligible sponsor must submit an application by April 1 that includes the following: written notice of intent; evidence of budget and personnel capacity; an outline of the request for proposal that it would use to solicit charter school applicants; the performance framework that the applicant sponsor would use to guide the establishment of a charter contract, and oversee and evaluate the charter school it would sponsor; and its renewal, revocation, and nonrenewal processes.
By July 1 annually, the Department must grant or deny a sponsoring authority to a sponsor applicant. Within thirty days of the Department's decision, it must execute a renewable sponsoring contract with each approved sponsoring entity. The term will be ten years in length.
All entities sponsoring a charter school at the time of this act's effective date must apply to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for approval to continue as a sponsor by April 1, 2012. By July 1, 2012, the Department must decide whether to grant the sponsor the authority to continue. Charter sponsors that are granted the authority to continue as a sponsor may do so for ten years. A sponsor that is denied authority will lose authority to sponsor immediately. The Missouri Charter Public School Commission will become the interim sponsor for a period of up to three years until the charter school finds a new sponsor or until the charter contract period lapses.
SECTION 160.405 – This act replaces the requirement that a charter state educational goals and objectives to be achieved by the school with the requirement that the charter contain a performance contract, as described in the act.
The term of a charter will be for five years, instead of the current provision that allows charters to be not less than five but not greater than ten years.
A charter must contain the following additional items: description of the procedures that ensure admission of students with disabilities in a nondiscriminatory manner; a description of the school's grievance procedure for parents or guardians; a description of the agreement between the school and the sponsor as to when a charter will be revoked for failure to comply with certain requirements or will not be renewed; procedures to be implemented if the charter school were to close; a description of the special education and related services that will be available to meet the needs of students with disabilities; and for all new and revised charters, procedures upon closure of the charter school requiring that unobligated assets of the charter school be returned to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for their disposition.
A charter must be submitted to the sponsor and follow the sponsor's policies and procedures for review and granting. In addition, the charter must be approved by the State Board of Education by December 1 prior to the proposed opening date of the charter school.
This act removes the requirement if a sponsor grants three or more charters that at least one-third of them be schools actively recruiting dropout students or high-risk students. It also modifies the definition of "high risk" student.
Charter schools must conduct a background check of education personnel, including through the Family Care Safety Registry.
Audit reports and annual financial reports must be published on the charter school's website or on DESE's website. This act removes the reference to the annual financial report in chapter 165.
Currently, charter schools must collect baseline data during at least the first three years to determine performance. This act requires charter schools to establish baseline student performance during the first year of operation and collect student performance data, as described in the act, throughout the duration of the charter to annually monitor student academic performance, based upon grade levels offered by the school.
The performance standards for alternative and special purpose charter schools that target high-risk students must be based on academic growth measures.
Charter schools are required to comply with all applicable federal and state special education laws including IDEA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This act allows proposed or existing high risk or alternative charter schools to include alternative arrangements for students to obtain credits for satisfying graduation requirements in the charter application and charter. Alternative arrangements may include credit for off-campus instruction, embedded credit, work experience, independent studies, and performance-based credit options. Upon approval of the charter by the State Board of Education, any alternative arrangements will be approved at the same time.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must conduct a study of any such charter school granted alternative arrangements for students to obtain credit to assess student performance, graduation rates, educational outcomes, and entry into the workforce or higher education.
The sponsor, governing board, and charter school staff must jointly review the school's performance, management, and operations during the first year of operation and then every other year after the most recent review, instead of the current requirement of at least once every two years.
This act removes the requirement that a charter school become a local educational agency for the sole purpose of direct access to federal grants and allows the school to become an agency if the sponsor and the governing board reach a written agreement to become an agency.
This act limits the length of probationary status for a charter school to no more than twelve months, provided that no more than one designation of probationary status is allowed for the duration of the charter contract.
This act eliminates judicial review of a sponsor's final decision to revoke a charter.
Beginning August 1, during the year in which a charter is up for renewal, a sponsor must demonstrate to the State Board of education that the charter school is in compliance with federal and state law on accountability, transparency, maintenance of parent, student, and employee rights, performance of charter requirements, and academic performance standards, as described in the act. For a charter school that offers high school grades, the sponsor must establish that the average graduation rate for the most recent three years is no lower than seventy percent in any of the last four years unless the school is engaged in dropout recovery and enrolls seventeen to twenty-one year old students. For all charter schools, the sponsor must establish that the school is not among the persistently lowest achieving five percent of schools by using three of the four previous years of Missouri Assessment Program for both communication arts and mathematics data. The State Board of Education must determine if the sponsor has demonstrated compliance. If compliance has not been achieved, the school and the sponsor must file a statement by October 31 stating why the school should not be closed. If no such statement is filed, the school must cease operation at the end of the current academic year. If a statement is timely filed, the State Board must hold a public hearing no later than January 10 to determine if the charter should be renewed. The State Board must vote by February 28 as to whether to continue school operations. The State Board may also impose certain conditions on continued operation or may close the charter school at the end of the current academic year.
A charter school must close at the end of the academic year if: the charter is revoked by the State Board of Education; the charter is revoked by the school's sponsor; the charter is not renewed; or the charter is voluntarily relinquished. The decision of the State Board to revoke or not renew a charter is final.
SECTION 160.410 – This act requires charter schools whose mission includes student drop-out prevention or recovery to enroll nonresident pupils from the same or an adjacent county who reside in residential care facilities, transitional living group homes, or independent living programs, whose last school of enrollment is in the school district where the charter school is established, who submit a timely application. Charter alternative and special purpose schools may also give a preference for admission to high-risk students, as defined, when the school targets these students through its proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services.
Students of a charter school who are present for the January membership count in section 163.011 will be counted in the performance of the charter school on the statewide assessments in that calendar year, unless otherwise exempted as English language learners.
If a charter school is operated by a management company, a copy of the contract must be made available for public inspection.
If a student attending a charter school moves so that he or she no longer lives in the school district where charter schools may operate, he or she may complete the current semester at the charter school and will be considered a resident student. The parent or legal guardian will be responsible for the student's transportation.
If a change in school district boundary lines occurs so that a student no longer lives in a school district, or if action by the State Board of Education occurs under section 162.081, where charter schools may operate, the student may complete the current academic year at the charter school. The parent or legal guardian will be responsible for the student's transportation.
The Foster Care Bill of Rights (sections 167.018 and 167.019) apply to charter schools.
SECTION 160.415 – An educational cooperative of school districts may provide managerial academic services as a contractor.
If a proposed charter school intends to contract with an education services provider for substantial educational services, management services, or both, the request for proposals must require charter school applicants to: provide evidence of the service provider's success in serving student populations similar to the targeted population; provide a term sheet setting forth the proposed duration of the service contract, roles and responsibilities of the governing board, school staff, and service provider, scope of services, performance evaluation measures and time lines, methods of contract oversight; identify any known conflicts of interest between the governing board and proposed service provider; disclose and explain any termination or nonrenewal of contracts for equivalent services for any other charter school within the past five years; ensure that the lead administrator and the legal counsel report directly to the governing board; and provide a process to ensure that the expenditures that the educational service provider intends to bill the charter school will receive prior approval of the governing board or its designee.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education may withhold funding at an adequate level during a charter school's last year of operation until the Department determines that school records, liabilities, and reporting requirements, including a full audit, are satisfied.
SECTION 160.417 – By October 1, 2011, and each October 1 thereafter, the Department of Elementary and Secondary education must identify charter schools experiencing financial stress using information from the report required by section 162.821. A list of charter schools experiencing financial stress will be provided to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro Tem of the Senate.
Parameters for financial stress are defined in the act.
By November 1, the Department must notify the charter school sponsor and the board of directors if it is identified as experiencing financial stress. The sponsor must develop and approve a budget and education plan, which must be submitted to the Department. The Department may withhold any payment of financial aid until such time as the charter school is in compliance with these requirements.
SECTION 160.420 - In addition to existing criminal background check requirements, charter schools must ensure that a Family Care Safety Registry check is conducted for employees. In addition, "certification by the National Standards Board" is updated to be "National Board for Professional Teaching Standards."
SECTION 160.425 – This act creates the Missouri Charter Public School Commission. It will have nine members, all appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Members will serve a term of four years, except for the initial appointees, whose terms are staggered. Commission members will be: one member selected from a slate of three candidates recommended by the Commissioner of Education; one member selected from a slate of three candidates recommended by the Commissioner of Higher Education; one member selected from a slate of three recommended by the President Pro Tem of the Senate; a member selected from a slate of three recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and five additional members. Operating procedures for the Commission are included.
The Commission may approve proposed charters for its sponsorship, as described in the act. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must provide start-up funding for the Commission to operate, which will be reimbursed from funds the Commission receives as sponsor of any charter schools under section 160.400.
SECTION 1 – The Joint Committee on Education must review the fifth cycle school improvement program standards to determine what effects, if any, changes to performance standards may have on the number and type of charter schools and sponsorship as a consequence of a district's accreditation status. The Joint Committee must deliver a report, with any recommendations for changes to law or State Board of Education policy, no later than December 31, 2011.
SECTION 2 – The terms of sale of any school facilities must not include a restriction in the deed that would prohibit the use of the facilities for educational purposes.
This act is similar to SCS/SBs 291, 184 & 294 (2011), HB 897 (2011), SB 838 (2010), SB 835 (2010), HB 2200 (2010), SB 317 (2009), SB 1027 (2008) and SB 64 (2009).