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Introduced Version Senate Bill 591 History

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SB591 INTR


Senate Bill No. 591

(By Senator Sprouse)

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[Introduced February 14, 2002; referred to the Committee

on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article ten-f, relating to establishing charter schools; stating objectives and definitions; how established and operated; providing for contracts for public charter schools and release from certain policies and rules; review of applications by local or county boards of education; decision of county board final with no right of review; restrictions; terms, renewals and revocations; employment of personnel; funding and services provided; annual evaluations; permitting joint and regional schools; and authorizing right of imminent domain for such schools.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article ten-f, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 10F. ESTABLISHMENT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS.
§18-10F-1. Objectives; definitions.

(a) In order to: (i) Stimulate the development of innovative programs within public education; (ii) provide opportunities for innovative instruction and assessment; (iii) provide parents and students with more options within their school districts; (iv) provide teachers with a vehicle for establishing schools with alternative innovative instruction and school scheduling, management and structure; (v) encourage the use of performance- based educational programs; (vi) establish high standards for both teachers and administrators; and (vii) develop models for replication in other public schools, public charter schools may be established in West Virginia as provided in this article.
(b) As used in this article:
"At-risk pupil" means a student having a physical, emotional, intellectual, socioeconomic or cultural risk factor, as defined in board of education criteria, which research indicates may negatively influence educational success.
"Public charter school" means a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, or nonhome-based alternative school located within a public school district. A public charter school may be created as a new public school or through the conversion of all or part of an existing public school; however, no public charter school may be established through the conversion of a private school or a nonpublic-based educational program. A charter school for at-risk pupils may be established as a residential school.
"Regional public charter school" means a public charter school operated by two or more county school boards and chartered directly by the participating county school boards.
§18-10F-2. Establishment and operation of public charter schools; requirements.

(a) A public charter school is subject to all federal and state laws and rules and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry or need for special education services and is subject to any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for the school district or, in the case of a regional public charter school, any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for participating school districts.
Enrollment is open to any child who is determined to reside within the relevant school district or, in the case of a regional public charter school, within any of the participating school districts, through a lottery process on a space-available basis. A waiting list shall be established if adequate space is not available to accommodate all students whose parents have requested to be entered in the lottery process. The waiting list shall also be prioritized through a lottery process and parents shall be informed of their student's position on the list.
(b) A public charter school shall be administered and managed by a management committee, composed of parents of students enrolled in the school, teachers and administrators working in the school, and representatives of any community sponsors, in a manner agreed to by the public charter school applicant and the local school board. Pursuant to a charter contract, a public charter school may operate free from specified school district policies and state rules, and, as public schools, is subject to the requirements of the standards of quality, including the standards of learning and the standards of accreditation.
(c) Pursuant to a charter agreement, a public charter school is responsible for its own operations, including, but not limited to, such budget preparation, contracts for services, and personnel matters as are specified in the charter agreement. A public charter school may negotiate and contract with a school district, the governing body of a public institution of higher education, or any third party for the use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking which the public charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter. Any services for which a public charter school contracts with a school district may not exceed the district's costs to provide these services.
(d) In no event may a public charter school be required to pay rent for space which is determined available as negotiated by contract, in school district facilities. All other costs for the operation and maintenance of the facilities used by the public charter school are subject to negotiation between the public charter school and the school district or, in the case of a regional public charter school, between the regional public charter school and the participating school districts.
(e) A public charter school may not charge tuition.
§18-10F-3. Contracts for public charter schools; release from certain policies and rules.

An approved charter application constitutes an agreement, and its terms are the terms of a contract between the public charter school and the local school board or, in the case of a regional public charter school, between the regional public charter school and the participating county school boards. The contract between the public charter school and the county school board or participating school boards shall reflect all agreements regarding the release of the public charter school from school district policies. The contract between the public charter school and the county school board or participating school boards shall reflect all requests for release of the public charter school from state rules. The county school board or participating school boards, on behalf of the public charter school, shall request the releases from the board of education.
If the charter application proposes a program to increase the educational opportunities for at-risk students, including those proposals for residential charter schools for at-risk students, the county school board or participating school boards, as the case may be, on behalf of the public charter school, shall also request that the board of education approve an individual school accreditation plan for the evaluation of the performance of the school.
Any material revision of the terms of the contract may be made only with the approval of the county school board or participating school boards and the management committee of the public charter school.
§18-10F-4. Charter application.
(a) Any person, group or organization may submit an application for the formation of a public charter school.
(b) The public charter school application shall be a proposed agreement and shall include:
(1) The mission statement of the public charter school that must be consistent with the principles of the standards of quality.
(2) The goals and educational objectives to be achieved by the public charter school, which educational objectives must meet or exceed the standards of learning.
(3) Evidence that an adequate number of parents, teachers, pupils or any combination thereof, support the formation of a public charter school.
(4) A statement of the need for a public charter school in a school district or participating school districts in the case of a regional public charter school, or in a geographic area within a school district or participating school districts, as the case may be.
(5) A description of the public charter school's educational program, pupil performance standards and curriculum, which must meet or exceed any applicable standards of quality; the assessments to be used to measure pupil progress towards achievement of the school's pupil performance standards; the timeline for achievement of the standards; and the procedures for taking corrective action in the event that pupil performance at the public charter school falls below those standards.
(6) A description of the lottery process to be used to determine enrollment. A lottery process shall also be developed for the establishment of a waiting list for students for whom space is unavailable and, if appropriate, a tailored admission policy that meets the specific mission or focus of the public charter school and is consistent with all federal and state laws and rules and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination that are applicable to public schools and with any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for the school district or, in the case of a regional public charter school, in effect for any of the participating school districts.
(7) Evidence that the plan for the public charter school is economically sound for both the public charter school and the school district or participating school districts, as the case may be; a proposed budget for the term of the charter; and a description of the manner in which an annual audit of the financial and administrative operations of the public charter school, including any services provided by the school district or participating school districts, as the case may be, is to be conducted.
(8) A plan for the displacement of pupils, teachers and other employees who will not attend or be employed in the public charter school and for the placement of public charter school pupils, teachers and employees upon termination or revocation of the charter.
(9) A description of the management and operation of the public charter school, including the nature and extent of parental, professional educator, and community involvement in the management and operation of the public charter school.
(10) An explanation of the relationship that will exist between the proposed public charter school and its employees, including evidence that the terms and conditions of employment have been addressed with affected employees.
(11) An agreement between the parties regarding their respective legal liability and applicable insurance coverage.
(12) A description of how the public charter school plans to meet the transportation needs of its pupils.
(13) Assurances that the public charter school: (i) Is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations; and (ii) does not charge tuition.
(14) In the case of a residential charter school for at-risk students, a description of: (i) The residential program, facilities, and staffing; (ii) any parental education and after-care initiatives; (iii) the funding sources for the residential and other services provided; and (iv) any counseling or other social services to be provided and their coordination with any current state or county initiatives.
§18-10F-5. Review of public charter school applications.
(a) Public charter school applications may only be received and reviewed by a county school board or, in the case of a regional public charter school, by all of the participating school boards, after public notice, a public hearing, and adoption by the county school board or boards of a resolution stating the intent to receive applications for the establishment of other public charter schools in the relevant school districts. The public notice shall appear once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the jurisdiction of the relevant school districts. The second publication may not be sooner than one calendar week after the first publication.
Each county school board that adopts a resolution announcing its intent to accept applications for public charter schools and publishes the notice of its intent shall establish procedures for receiving, review and ruling upon applications and shall make a copy of any procedures available to all interested parties upon request. If any board finds the public charter school application is incomplete, the board shall request the necessary information from the charter applicant.
(b) To provide appropriate opportunity for input from parents, teachers and other interested parties and to obtain information to assist county school boards in their decisions to grant a public charter school application, county school boards may establish a procedure for public notice, comment or hearings on public charter school applications.
(c) Each county school board shall provide public notice by the thirtieth day of December, two thousand two, of its intent to accept or not to accept applications for public charter schools.
§18-10F-6. Decision of county board final.
The decision of a county school board to grant or deny a public charter school application or to revoke or fail to review a charter agreement is final and is not subject to appeal.
§18-10F-7. Public charter school restrictions.
(a) On and after the first day of July, two thousand one, county school boards electing to receive applications for public charter schools may establish public charter schools within the school district and may limit the number of schools so established; however, the total number of public charter schools, including those designed to increase educational opportunities for at-risk pupils but not including any regional public charter schools, may not exceed ten percent of the school district's total number of schools or two public charter schools, whichever is greater. Priority shall be given to public charter school applications designed to increase the educational opportunities of at-risk students, and at least one half of the public charter schools per district shall be for at-risk students.
(b) County school boards that grant public charter school applications shall report the action to the state board and shall specify the maximum number of charters that may be authorized, if any; the number of charters granted; and whether a public charter school is designed to increase the educational opportunities of at-risk students.
(c) Nothing in this article may be construed to prevent a school that is the only school in the district from applying to become a public charter school.
§18-10F-8. Public charter school term; renewals and revocations.
(a) A charter may be approved or renewed for a period not to exceed three school years. A public charter school renewal application submitted to the county school board or, in the case of a regional public charter school, to the participating school boards shall contain:
(1) A report on the progress of the public charter school in achieving the goals, objectives, program and performance standards for students, and such other conditions and terms as the school board or boards may require upon granting initial approval of the charter application; or
(2) A financial statement, on forms prescribed by the state board, that discloses the costs of administration, instruction and other spending categories for the public charter school and that has been concisely and clearly written to enable the school board or boards and the public to compare the costs to those of other schools or comparable organizations.
(b) County school boards may revoke a charter if the public charter school:
(1) Violates the conditions, standards or procedures established in the public charter school application;
(2) Fails to meet or make reasonable progress toward achievement of the content standards or student performance standards identified in the charter application;
(3) Fails to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; or
(4) Violates any provision of law from which the public charter school was not specifically exempted.
A charter may be revoked if the county school board determines, in its discretion, that it is not in the public interest or for the welfare of the students within the school district to continue the operation of the school or, in the case of a regional public charter school, to continue its participation in the operation of the school.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to restrict the authority of county school boards to decline to renew a charter agreement.
§18-10F-9. Employment of professional, licensed personnel.
(a) Public charter school personnel shall be employees of the county school board or boards granting the charter.
(b) Professional, licensed education personnel may volunteer for assignment to a public charter school. Assignment in a public charter school shall be for one contract year. Upon request of the employee and the recommendation of the management committee of the public charter school, reassignment to the public charter school shall occur on an annual basis.
(c) At the completion of each contract year, professional, licensed education personnel who request assignment to a public noncharter school in the relevant school district or who are not recommended for reassignment in the public charter school shall be guaranteed an involuntary transfer to a public noncharter school in the school district according to the employment policies of the school district.
(d) Professional, licensed personnel of a public charter school shall be granted the same employment benefits given to professional, licensed personnel in public noncharter schools in accordance with the policies of the relevant schools board or boards.
(e) Nothing in this section may be construed to restrict the authority of the county school board to assign professional, licensed personnel to a public charter school or any other public school.
(f) School boards may employ such health, mental health, social service and other related personnel to serve in residential charter schools for at-risk pupils as set forth in the charter agreement between the school board and the charter school; however, nothing herein requires a school board to fund the residential or other services provided by a residential charter school.
§18-10F-10. Funding of public charter schools; services provided.
(a) For the purposes of this article, students enrolled in a public charter school shall be included in the average daily membership of the relevant school district; however, public charter schools may not be reported in fall membership for purposes of calculating the state and county shares required to fund the standards of quality if the enrollment at the public charter school is less than one hundred students and constitutes less than five percent of the total enrollment of the relevant grades in that school district.
(b) Insofar as constitutionally valid, a county school board or, in the case of a regional public charter school, the participating school boards may establish by contract an agreement stating the conditions for funding the public charter school, including funding for the educational program to be provided by a residential charter school for at-risk students.
(c) Services provided the public charter school by the county school board or participating school boards may include food services; custodial and maintenance services; curriculum, media, and library services; warehousing and merchandising; and such other services not prohibited by the provisions of this article or state and federal laws.
(d) Funding and service agreements between county school boards and public charter schools may not provide a financial incentive or constitute a financial disincentive to the establishment of a public charter school, including any regional public charter school.
(e) Any educational and related fees collected from students enrolled at a public charter school shall be credited to the account of the public charter school established by the relevant county school board.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the proportionate share of state and federal resources allocated for students with disabilities and school personnel assigned to special education programs shall be directed to public charter schools enrolling these students. The proportionate share of moneys allocated under other federal or state categorical aid programs shall be directed to public charter schools serving students eligible for this aid.
(g) The management committee of a public charter school may accept gifts, donations or grants of any kind made to the public charter school land to spend these funds in accordance with the conditions prescribed by the donor. However, no gift, donation or grant may be accepted by the management committee of a public charter school if the conditions for the funds are contrary to law or the terms of the agreement between the county school board and the public charter school or, in the case of a regional public charter school, the participating school boards and the regional public charter school.
(h) The state board of education shall provide technical assistance to county school boards electing to receive, review and act upon applications for public charter schools.
§18-10F-11. Evaluation of public charter schools; reports.
County school boards establishing public charter schools shall submit annual evaluations of the schools to the state board of education. The state board shall review the evaluations against any board rules and policies waived for the public charter schools to determine the efficacy of the waivers and whether the public charter schools accomplished established goals and objectives. The county school boards shall also submit annually to the state board a comparison of the performance of public charter school students and students enrolled in the regular schools of such relevant school district and a report of the number of students enrolled in the public charter schools at the end of the school year.
The state board shall report annually its findings and evaluations of any public charter schools established in the state to the governor and the Legislature, beginning in January, two thousand three.
§18-10F-12. Joint and regional schools; regional public charter schools.

Two or more county school boards may, with the consent of the state board, establish joint or regional schools, including regional public charter schools and regional residential charter schools for at-risk pupils, for the use of their respective school districts and may jointly purchase, take, hold, lease, convey and condemn both real and personal property for the joint, regional or regional public charter schools. The county school boards, acting jointly, have the same power of condemnation as other county school boards except that land so condemned may not be in excess of thirty acres for the use of any one joint or regional school. The title to all property acquired for these purposes shall vest jointly in the county school boards in the respective proportions as the county school boards may determine, and the schools shall be managed and controlled by the county school boards jointly, in accordance with such rules promulgated by the state board. However, the rules in force at the time of the adoption of a plan for the operation of a joint, regional or regional public charter school may not be changed for the joint, regional or regional public charter school by the state board without the approval of the county school boards. The county school boards operating a regional public charter school shall determine the school district to which any regional public charter school is assigned for the purposes of any restrictions on the number of public charter schools.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the establishment of charter schools in West Virginia.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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