November 25, 2012
The 2013 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda
The passage of the Senate Bill 8 in 2011, lifting the fifteen year cap on charters, marked the beginning of a new phase of education reform in North Carolina. The newly authorized Advisory Council thereafter became busy with its task of establishing its policies and procedures and then jumped into the work of selecting quality applications to begin the new era of charter education in our state. In 2012 the Association, acknowledging the General Assembly’s short session limitations on its legislation allowed to be considered, thought it prudent to wait a year to ask for improvements in the charter law, while giving the Council a year to make its mark and allowing for the November elections to tell us from whom K-12 education leadership would come in 2013.
The Association Legislative and Regulatory Agenda (“Agenda”) below includes not only improvements the charter community has asked for, but also the regulatory changes needed, e.g., State Board of Education policies, rules, and procedures, to include those of the Office of Charter Schools.
These items were comprised by holding public meetings around the state in October of this year, with existing charter schools providing the vast majority of the input. The agenda items were assigned priority by a survey of Association member schools. Although the Agenda we will present to legislators will have detail not included below the summary we reflect does provide the crux of the improvements that will be requested.
- Provide a new per-pupil facilities allotment to partially offset the capital funding inequity
- Allow for counties and municipalities to fund charters and their affiliated non-profit organizations
- Share “education lottery” proceeds with charters
- Require accounting and timelines for LEA funding of charters
- Ensure adequate funding for the Council and the Office of Charter Schools to be used to enhance their facilitation and support functions
- Consider the restructuring of funding to allow the direct appropriation of local current expense funds to charters from the county or consider the county’s paying to the state the charter fund allocation and the state being the sole funder of the charters
- Provide for reasonable new charter start-up funds or acceleration of funding
- Remove the burdensome State Board of Education (SBE) policy mandating an unnecessary deferral of a critical final approval of new charters or consider the removal of the “preliminary” approval
- Amend the charter contract to remove the conditions that no board member also serve as an employee of the school or be an employee of a major vendor of the school, to allow for better management skills afforded the boards. Instead, use a standardized conflict of interest clause for all boards.
- Create a study of all DPI/OCS/SBE reports required of charters to ensure that all are necessary and carry out the purposes of the charter school laws and do not overly and unreasonably burden the small administrative staffs of the charter schools
- Remove SBE policy and SB8’s 60% Performance Composite requirement and redesign an academic “floor” using a more comprehensive and quantifiable measure(s) of growth or education value added
- Do not place any more stringent requirements regarding transportation and meals than currently exist
- Remove contradictory requirement that the end of year composition of students mirror specific populations
- Make it clearer that charters may serve and limit enrollment to special populations specified in the charter
- Resist all artificial quotas or caps on charters and revisit language implying “LEA impact” may be more important than the aggregate of student learning within an LEA boundary
- Expand preferential enrollment to children of all school employees, not solely teachers
- Allow for all siblings to enter a school under a lottery, not just birth siblings, when one surname is entered
- Expand preferential enrollment to all children of board members subsequent to the first year of operation so long as there is a reasonable limitation on the number or percentage
- Allow for a limited number out of state students if the charter has unfilled seats and a full state-local tuition is paid to the charter
- Exempt property used solely for a charter school for property tax purposes, even if the owner is a for profit entity
- Allocate part of lottery advertising funds to provide public service announcements for potential charter founders and to educate public about free enrollment, especially minority and limited English populations
- Ensure the assets of the closing charter school purchased with public funds shall be distributed to satisfy the creditors of the charter school
- Provide that certain charter applicants meeting a “high quality replicating applicant” standard are assured that any reasonably unnecessary steps in the charter authorizing process are eliminated
- Allow for re-enrollment preference for a charter student who, because of extenuating educational opportunities or parental vocational opportunities, needs to leave the school for less than two school years
Submitted on behalf of the Association by
Executive Director, NC Public Charter Schools Association