Monday, May 06, 2013

Charter Rules - Public Input

Here are the documents that school districts will use regarding charter school applications. 

One is a letter of instructions.
Another is an application (I-V).
Still another is a statement of assurances.  This one had one thing that I hadn't really seen before -  that districts not only have to solicit applications for new charter schools but for conversion ones as well.  To me, any district that says "hey we have this school that we've tried everything with.  Come take it over, send the students in all directions and take our building."  That would be one interesting solicitation.

That was not my reading of the initiative (but, as the AG's rep says, she finds something new every time she reads the law so I'm not alone). 

This document - Charter School Authorizer and Approval Process- is lengthy but chockful of good information.

This Wednesday, May 8th, a couple of members of the Charter Commission will go to the State Board of Education meeting to talk to the Board .  This meeting is to be held in Federal Way at Federal Way Public Schools, 33330 8th Ave South, Room 104. 

The BOE will review the Authorizer and Approval Process document and then have a public hearing about proposed rules:

RCW 28A.710.110 (Authorizer oversight fee)
RCW 28A.710.140 (Charter applications–Timeline)

RCW 28A.710.150 (Maximum number of charter schools–Lottery)

Mr. Jack Archer, Senior Policy Analyst

Ms. JoLynn Berge, Director of Agency Financial Services, OSPI

The agenda reflects that the review of the Authorizer and Approval Process document will be from 2:15-3:00 p.m. and the Public Hearing on the Proposed Rules for Charter Schools will be from 3-3:30 p.m.

I would urge you to write to the BOE about:

- the Authorizer oversight fee.  The rule would allow the fee to go down - from 4% to 3% - once an authorizer has over 10 schools.  At the last Charter Commission meeting, members were very worried about this rule as it sets them up to do more with less funding.  (They even talked about going to the Legislature for more money for their work if this happens.)  I believe the thinking is that there would be less work with more volume but I don't believe that's really going to happen in reality.

Look, charters get less money because they get more autonomy.  That autonomy HAS to be overseen and that oversight costs money.  Period.

- The use of the lottery.  This is HUGE issue and the discussion at the Charter Commission meeting evidenced that.  (Thread on that meeting to come.)

To reiterate, the submission of approved charter applications - from both the Charter Commission and approved school district authorizers - will be a race.  The idea is to get your approved application to the BOE to be one of the first 7.  Those all get the time/day stamp from the BOE and that's it.

However, as I reported previously, all the ones that come in after that, within a day or so, will be considered "number eights" and all go into the lottery.  (And again, this is how you get quality?)  One will get picked but, according to the AG rep, ALL the others are now approved and would rollover to start into NEXT year's eight.

This facet of the lottery dawned on several Commission members (to my happy surprise) and they were NOT happy.  It appeared that most Commission members would only one 1-2 to roll over to a next year.

The fear is that you will have a multitude of applications early on because applicants, if approved, will have an assured spot as one of the eight over the next five years. 

You can see if there were 50 approved applications, you just filled up all the spots for the next five years.  (And boy will you see that cap of eight being lifted quickly if that is allowed to happen.)

You can e-mail a comment to   sbe@k12.wa.us.


Anonymous said...

I thought they had to give preference to low income students.

So, they need to assign a weighting for percentage of low income, and assign a weighting for how early the application gets turned in, and score that on a scale of 1 to 7. Then they need to convert that to a letter grading scale of A through F so that it can be understood in school language. Then, the first 8 A and B applications can be chosen.

There, I made it complicated, where's my million dollar Gates grant?


Melissa Westbrook said...

No Name, well, they do but see each authorizer gets to do it their own way. And, as the law states, nothing precludes them from approving any kind of charter.

Watching said...

How do charter schools influence student enrollment?


Has the charter commission addressed the issue of equitable access for ALL students? I remain concerned about enrollment processes that make it difficult for ELL families etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, well, that is up to the authorizer. Each one sets their standards for authorization. It could be quite clear or vaguely ("enroll all applicants).

Again, if the charter doesn't set up ELL services, they can counsel out ELL students.