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Introduced Version Senate Bill 219 History

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Senate Bill No. 219

(By Senator Barnes)

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[Introduced January 8, 2014; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-33-1, §18-33-2, §18-33-3, §18-33-4, §18-33-5, §18-33-6, §18-33-7, §18-33-8, §18-33-9, §18-33-10, §18-33-11, §18-33-12, §18-33-13 and §18-33-14, all relating to the establishment of public competitive learning academies; setting forth regulatory and statutory requirements; providing exemptions from state laws and rules; permitting conversion of public schools to public competitive learning academies; setting forth an application process; permitting approval and denial of applications; establishing a competitive learning academy status term; permitting the termination of a public competitive learning academy; setting forth public competitive learning academy requirements; providing for funding; setting forth enrollment standards; providing for student transportation; permitting conditional approval; setting forth information on competitive learning academies; permitting leaves of absence for teachers; setting forth employment of school personnel and benefits; and defining terms.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-33-1, §18-33-2, §18-33-3, §18-33-4, §18-33-5, §18-33-6, §18-33-7, §18-33-8, §18-33-9, §18-33-10, §18-33-11, §18-33-12, §18-33-13 and §18-33-14, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 33. WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC COMPETITIVE LEARNING ACADEMIES ACT OF 2014.

§18-33-1. Definitions.

    (a) “Governing body” means the organized group of persons who will operate a public competitive learning academy by deciding matters including, but not limited to, budgeting, curriculum and other operating procedures for the public competitive learning academy and by overseeing management and administration of a public competitive learning academy. The “governing body” shall include one nonvoting member appointed by the superintendent of the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located.

    (b) “Public competitive learning academy” means a public school that is established and operating pursuant to this article.

    (c) “Sponsor” means any individual, group or other organization filing an application in support of the establishment of a public competitive learning academy: Provided, That a sponsor cannot be a for-profit entity, a private school, a religious or church school or promote the agenda of any religious denomination or religiously affiliated entity.

§18-33-2. Competitive learning academies.

    (a) Public competitive learning academies are a part of the state program of public education.

    (b) Public competitive learning academies are subject to any regulatory and statutory requirements related to:

    (1) Federal and state civil rights;

    (2) Federal, state and local health and safety;

    (3) Federal and state public records;

     (4) Immunizations;

    (5) School nutrition;

    (6) Confidentiality of student data;

    (7) Possession of weapons on school grounds;

    (8) Background checks and fingerprinting of personnel;

    (9) Federal and state special education services;

    (10) Student due process;

    (11) Parental rights;

    (12) Federal and state student assessment and accountability;

    (13) Open meetings;

    (14) Freedom of information;

    (15) Accounting procedures;

    (16) Purchasing procedures;

    (17) All school personnel certification requirements; and

    (18) All other provisions of state and federal law and rule except for those specifically listed in subsection (c) of this section.

    (c) Subject to subsection (d), public competitive learning academies are not subject to state laws and rules related to the following:

    (1) School calendar;

    (2) Any minimum instructional minutes per day requirement;

    (3) Any personnel laws set forth in chapter eighteen-a of this code relating to hiring; termination of employment; evaluations; seniority; and reductions in force;

    (4) Required programs of study;

    (5) Instructional goals and methods;

    (6) School uniforms, subject to section seven of this article; and

    (7) Class size.

    (d) In addition to exempting a public competitive learning academy from the laws and rules set forth in subsection (c) of this section, the governing body of a public competitive learning academy may apply to the state board for a waiver of any provisions of its rules, and may request the Legislature to exempt it from certain provisions or to change certain school law provisions generally.

§18-33-3. Creation or conversion of competitive learning academies.

    (a) A public competitive learning academy may be formed by creating a new school or converting an eligible public school to competitive learning academy status pursuant to the provisions of this article: Provided, That the county board of education in which the competitive learning academy will be located is the sponsoring entity for the proposed competitive learning academy.

    (b) Newly created competitive learning academies are subject to the following:

    (1) The sponsor of a public competitive learning academy shall file a public competitive learning academy application with the state board;

    (2) Upon a determination that a sponsor meets the requirements set forth in this article, the state board shall approve the application. In determining whether or not to approve the application, the state board shall only consider whether the requirements of this article are satisfied and shall not consider any other factor; and

    (3) A public competitive learning academy shall be operated by a not-for-profit organization that is exempt from federal taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. No public competitive learning academy status may be granted to a for-profit corporation.

    (c) The conversion of a public school to a public competitive learning academy is subject to the following:

    (1) At the time of conversion to a competitive learning academy, parents whose children are enrolled at the school may enroll their child in another public school without penalty;

    (2) The conversion must occur in between employment terms and shall be in compliance with the provisions of this article; and

    (3) At the time of conversion to a competitive learning academy, any person employed at the school, or if dismissed from employment in their position at the competitive learning academy, may request transfer to another position within the school district or be placed on a preferred recall list; and

    (4) At the time of the conversion to a public competitive learning academy, the applicant school must be among the bottom quartile in overall performance on the statewide WESTEST assessment for the prior academic year.

    (d) No competitive learning academy agreement that authorizes the conversion of any private, parochial, Internet-based or home-based school to competitive learning academy status may be granted under this article.

    (e) Nothing in this article may be construed to prohibit any individual or organization from providing funding or other assistance to the establishment or operation of a public competitive learning academy, but the funding or assistance may not entitle the individual or organization to any ownership interest in the school.

§18-33-4. Application process.

    (a) At least sixty days before the proposed public competitive learning academy plans to begin operation, the sponsor seeking to establish a public competitive learning academy shall prepare and file with the state board an application providing the following information and documents:

    (1) A statement defining the mission and goals of the proposed competitive learning academy;

    (2) The proposed instructional goals and methods for the school, which at a minimum, shall include teaching and classroom instruction methods that will be used to provide students with the knowledge, proficiency and skills needed to reach the goals of the school;

    (3) An operating budget based on anticipated enrollment;

    (4) A timetable for commencing operations as public competitive learning academy;

    (5) Information on the minimum daily instruction time requirements, the minimum instructional day per year requirement and the amount of professional development that will be provided to personnel employed at the public competitive learning academy;

    (6) The proposed rules and policies for governance and operation of the school;

    (7) The names and addresses of the members of the governing body;

    (8) A description of the anticipated student enrollment;

    (9) The identification of the individuals and entities sponsoring the proposed public competitive learning academy, including names and addresses;

    (10) The plan for management and administration of the school;

    (11) A copy of the proposed by-laws of the governing body of the competitive learning academy;

    (12) A statement of assurance of liability by the governing body of the competitive learning academy;

    (13) Types and amounts of insurance coverage to be held by the competitive learning academy, including provisions for assuring that the insurance provider will notify the state board within ten days of the cancellation of any insurance it carries on the competitive learning academy;

    (14) The plan for transportation for pupils attending the competitive learning academy if transportation is provided;

    (15) Information regarding financing commitments from debt sources for cash or similar liquid assets sufficient to demonstrate that the competitive learning academy will have liquid assets sufficiently available to operate the school on an ongoing and sound financial basis; and

    (16) Any other reasonable information the state board determines is necessary to ascertain whether or not the public competitive learning academy is complying with the requirements set forth in this article: Provided, That the state board may not require any information that places an undue hardship on the sponsor or results in unnecessary delay in the competitive learning academy application process.

    (b) Where an existing public school is to be converted to a public competitive learning academy, the sponsor making application must be the county board of education for the county in which the school is located.

    (c) Much of the information required by subsection (a) of this section is for informational purposes only. Pursuant to section five of this article, the state board only has authority to deny an application for failure to meet the requirements of this article.

§18-33-5. Approval and denial of application; and competitive               learning academy status term.

    (a) The state board may approve or deny applications to establish a public competitive learning academy: Provided, That the state board only may deny an application based on failure to comply with the requirements of this article. The state board shall approve any application when the applicant has fully complied with all the requirements set forth in this article.

    (b) The state board shall approve or deny a competitive learning academy application within sixty days of receiving the application. If the state board fails to approve or deny a competitive learning academy application within the sixty days, the application is considered approved.

    (c) If a decision of the state board is to deny a competitive learning academy application, it must state its reasons in writing to the sponsor who submitted the application. The sponsor may correct any deficiencies in complying with this article and resubmit the application or submit an amended application, as applicable. Each time an application is resubmitted or an amended application is submitted, the state board shall approve or deny the competitive learning academy application within sixty days. If the state board fails to approve or deny a resubmitted or amended competitive learning academy application within the sixty days, the application is considered approved.

    (d) Approval of a competitive learning academy application is effective for five years from the date of approval, after which the school’s status as a public competitive learning academy is revoked unless the sponsor applies for public competitive learning academy status again pursuant to this article and shows substantive student improvement on statewide or national assessments.

§18-33-6. Termination of public competitive learning academy.

    (a) Upon dissolution of a competitive learning academy for any reason or if competitive learning academy status is not renewed, any unencumbered public funds from the competitive learning academy revert to the county board of the district in which the competitive learning academy is located.

    (b) If a competitive learning academy is dissolved for any reason or competitive learning academy status is not renewed, the competitive learning academy is responsible for all debts of the competitive learning academy. Neither the county board of the district where the competitive learning academy is located nor any other governmental entity may assume the debt from any contract for services made between the governing body of the public competitive learning academy and a third party, except for a debt that is previously detailed and agreed upon in writing by both the county board and the governing body of the public competitive learning academy and that may not reasonably be assumed to have been satisfied by the county board.

§18-33-7. Compliance.

    (a) A public competitive learning academy shall:

    (1) Operate as a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious public school, with control of instruction vested in the governing body of the school under the general supervision of the sponsoring authority and in compliance with the competitive learning academy agreement and this article;

    (2) Meet the same performance standards and requirements adopted by the state board for other public schools, but may apply for a waiver of certain policies as indicated in its application;

    (3) Receive state, federal and local funds from the county board of the district in which the school is located; and

    (4) Provide special education services as required for all public schools by federal law unless provided by the county board of education in another school reasonably within the vicinity.

    (b) A public competitive learning academy is subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, national origin, religion, ancestry or need for special education services.

    (c) A public competitive learning academy shall comply with all applicable health and safety standards, regulations and laws of the United States and State of West Virginia.

    (d) A public competitive learning academy is accountable to the state board for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the requirements of this article.

    (e) All contracts for goods and services in excess of $5,000 shall be bid and approved by the governing body of each public competitive learning academy.

    (f) A public competitive learning academy shall be governed and managed by a governing body.

    (g) The governing body of a public competitive learning academy is subject to section five, article two, chapter six-b and any other ethical standards that are applicable to county board members.

    (h) The meetings of the governing body of a public competitive learning academy are considered public business and shall comply with the Open Governmental Proceedings Act set forth in article nine-a, chapter six of this code.

    (I) A public competitive learning academy is subject to all state audit procedures and audit requirements, and shall submit quarterly financial reports to the state board and the county board of the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located.

    (j) A public competitive learning academy may not charge tuition.

    (k) A public competitive learning academy shall be operated on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year and the governing body shall adopt and operate under an annual budget for the fiscal year. The budget shall be prepared in the same format as that required for county boards.

    (l) A public competitive learning academy shall maintain its accounts and records in accordance with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board standards.

    (m) A public competitive learning academy shall require all students to wear a school uniform.

§18-33-8. Funding.

    (a) The county board of the county in which a public competitive learning academy is located shall allocate one hundred percent of the state and local education funds to the public competitive learning academy based on the per pupil expenditure of the county board, subject to sections ten and fourteen of this article. The minimum per pupil expenditure shall be based on the net enrollment of the district for the previous school year. A county board may expend additional funds in the operation of the public competitive learning academy: Provided, That all funds are spent according to the budget submitted in the competitive learning academy agreement, or as otherwise revised by the public competitive learning academy request of the governing body, subject to state and federal law. The governing body of a public competitive learning academy may contract with the county board of the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located to act as fiscal agent for a public competitive learning academy.

    (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, funds which would otherwise be allocated on the basis of enrollment in the prior year shall be allocated, during the first full academic year of operation of any public competitive learning academy, on the basis of the anticipated enrollment in the competitive learning academy agreement, which amount shall be subsequently adjusted to reflect the actual number of students enrolled.

    (c) A public competitive learning academy also may be funded by federal grants; grants, gifts, devises or donations from any private sources; and state funds appropriated for the support of the public competitive learning academy, if any, and any other funds that may be received by the county board of the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located. Receipt of any of these funds shall be reported to the state board. Public competitive learning academies, county boards and the state superintendent are encouraged to apply for federal funds appropriated specifically for the support of competitive learning academies.

§18-33-9. Enrollment.

    (a) Participation in a public competitive learning academy shall be based on parental choice, or the choice of the legal guardian or custodian.

    (b) A public competitive learning academy shall enroll an eligible pupil who submits a timely application, unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level or building. If applications exceed the planned capacity of the public competitive learning academy, students shall be enrolled in accordance with the following priorities:

    (1) Pupils in attendance in the previous school year at any public school that converts to become a public competitive learning academy, or those pupils who would have attended the public competitive learning academy in the previous school year based on residence;

    (2) Pupils attending public schools within the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located;

    (3) Children residing within the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located, but who are not enrolled in public schools; and

    (4) Any other children.

    (c) If enrollment within a priority grouping set forth in subsection (b) of this section exceeds the planned capacity of the school, enrollment within that group shall be determined on the basis of a lottery.

    (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary:

    (1) Preference shall be given to the siblings of a pupil who is already enrolled and to the children of a teacher, sponsor or member of the governing body of the competitive learning academy; and

    (2) In order to promote competition with other public schools in the county in which a competitive learning academy is located, the Legislature intends that the student population be similar to other public schools in the state. Therefore, the enrollment of students who are enrolled in an individual education program, are eligible for free and reduced lunch or both shall be given priority over other pupils until forty percent of the student population of any proposed competitive learning academy is composed of those students. The students enrolled in individual education programs and eligible for free and reduced lunch shall be enrolled in accordance with the priorities set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

§18-33-10. Student transportation.

    A county board of education shall provide transportation for students to and from a public competitive learning academy, provided those students live in the vicinity of the public competitive learning academy and would otherwise be transported to that school by the county board if the public competitive learning academy had not become a public competitive learning academy. Students living outside the vicinity of the public competitive learning academy who elect to attend the school are responsible for their own transportation to and from the public competitive learning academy.

§18-33-11. Conditional approval.

    If approval is a prerequisite for the sponsor to raise working capital, the state board may grant conditional approval for a public competitive learning academy application. If the sponsor has satisfied all other requirements set forth in this article, the state board shall grant full approval subject to the sponsor providing information regarding financing commitments from debt sources for cash or working capital sufficient to demonstrate that a competitive learning academy will have liquid assets sufficiently available to operate the school on an ongoing and sound financial basis.

§18-33-12. Information on competitive learning academies.

    (a) The state superintendent shall provide information to the public through its Internet site and otherwise on how to form and operate a public competitive learning academy. This information shall include a standard application format which shall include the information specified in section four of this article.

    (b) The state superintendent shall monitor the status of competitive learning academy applications and shall maintain information on the total number of competitive learning academy applications, total number of competitive learning academy applications granted by type of school and total number of competitive learning academy applications denied.

§18-33-13. Leaves of absence for teachers.

    (a) If a teacher employed by a county board makes a written request for an extended leave of absence to teach at a public competitive learning academy, the county board may grant the leave pursuant to section two, article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code.

    (b) The seniority acquired by a teacher while on a leave of absence to teach at a public competitive learning academy will continue to accrue the same as if the teacher were employed at the county board of the district in which the teacher was immediately previously employed.

    (c) For the purposes of determining salary in accordance with article four, chapter eighteen of this code, a teacher shall receive credit toward years of service while teaching at a public competitive learning academy at a rate of pay the teacher would have received if teaching in a noncompetitive learning academy within the school district.

§18-33-14. Employment of school personnel; insurance; retirement.

    (a) School personnel employed at a public competitive learning academy are considered employees of the county board of the district in which the public competitive learning academy is located for the purposes of salary and benefits. The competitive learning academy shall recommend to the county board who to hire for each position, and the county board shall hire the recommended individuals and assign them to the public competitive learning academy. The county board also shall dismiss school personnel assigned to a public competitive learning academy upon the recommendation of the governing board of a public competitive learning academy. The governing board has supervisory authority over the school personnel assigned to the school.

    (b) The county board shall pay for the cost of the salaries and benefits for the school personnel employed by the county board and assigned to the competitive learning academy.

    (c) Since school personnel employed at a competitive learning academy are considered employees of a county board all school personnel employed at a public competitive learning academy are:

    (1) Eligible for public employee insurance agency benefits in the same manner that school personnel employed by the county board of the district in which the school is located are;

    (2) Eligible to participate in the Teachers Retirement System or, in the same manner that school personnel employed by the county board of the district in which the school is located are; and

    (3) Eligible for any other benefits provided to other school personnel employed by the county board.



    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create public competitive learning academies in the state. The bill sets forth the applicable regulatory and statutory requirements, exemptions from state laws and rules, and provides for conversion of public school to public competitive learning academy. The bill also established public competitive learning academy requirements, conditional approval of academies, funding, enrollment of students and their transportation. The bill establishes the school term, provides information on competitive learning academies, sets forth leaves of absence for teachers, employment of school personnel and their benefits. The bill additionally provides a termination process of a public competitive learning academy.



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

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