Senate Bill No. 227
(By Senator Jenkins)
[Introduced January 8, 2014; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5D-1, §18-5D-2, §18-5D-3, §18-5D-4, §18-5D-5, §18-5D-6, §18-5D-7, §18-5D-8, §18-5D-9, §18-5D-10, §18-5D-11, §18-5D-12, §18-5D-13, §18-5D-14, §18-5D-15, §18-5D-16, §18-5D-17, §18-5D-18 and §18-5D-19, all relating to public education; authorizing public colleges or universities to sponsor community schools in cooperation with county boards of education; providing short title; stating legislative intent; providing definitions; stating powers of community schools and requirements; providing for boards of trustees and their powers; establishing pilot projects; setting forth the content of an application for a community school; requiring a written agreement between a county board and the community school board; providing exemption from public schools facility rules; providing for enrollment; providing for school staff and students; requiring a county board of education to fund each community school in its county; providing for the transportation of students; establishing tort liability of community schools; requiring annual reports and assessments; and providing causes for nonrenewal or termination.
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 §18-5D-1, §18-5D-2, §18-5D-3, §18-5D-4, §18-5D-5, §18-5D-6, §18-5D-7, §18-5D-8, §18-5D-9, §18-5D-10, §18-5D-11, §18-5D-12, §18-5D-13, §18-5D-14, §18-5D-15, §18-5D-16, §18-5D-17, §18-5D-18 and §18-5D-19, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5D. HIGHER EDUCATION COMMUNITY SCHOOLS.
§18-5D-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the “Higher Education Community School Law.”
§18-5D-2. Legislative intent.
It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this article, to provide opportunities for state universities and colleges to establish and maintain schools that operate in cooperation with the existing county school structure, as a method to accomplish all of the following:
(1) Improve pupil learning;
(2) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils;
(3) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods;
(4) Encourage curriculum and assessment development;
(5) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site;
(6) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system; and
(7) Hold the schools established under this article accountable for meeting measurable academic standards and provide the school with a method to establish accountability systems.
As used in this article:
(1) “Agreement” means an agreement between a county board of education and a university or college establishing a community school under the provisions of this article.
(2) “County Board of Education” means the county board of education in the county in which a proposed or an approved community school is located.
(3) “Higher education community school” means a public school established and operated under the provisions of this article.
(4) “State board” means the State Board of Education.
(5) “State university and college” means a public four-year college or university with its primary campus in the school district, with an approved teacher education program that meets regional or national standards of accreditation.
(6) "Superintendent" means the State Superintendent of Schools.
§18-5D-4. Authority to create community schools.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, a state university or college may, pursuant to the provisions of this article, and with the cooperation of the county board of education in the county, establish a community school in the county where its principal campuses are maintained. State universities and colleges, with the cooperation of the county boards of education have the authority to effectuate the provisions of this article, notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or chapters eighteen-a and eighteen-b of this code.
(b) A community school may provide instruction for kindergarten through twelfth grade. A community school is not required to provide instruction for all grades.
§18-5D-5. Powers of community schools.
(a) A community school established under this article has all powers necessary or desirable to carry out its agreement, including, but not limited to, the power to:
(1) Adopt a name and seal, as long as any name selected includes the words "community school";
(2) Sue and be sued, but only to the same extent and upon the same condition that political subdivisions can be sued;
(3) Acquire real property from public or private sources by purchase, lease, lease with an option to purchase or gift for use as a community school facility;
(4) Receive and disburse funds for community school purposes only;
(5) Make contracts and leases for the procurement of services, equipment and supplies;
(6) Incur temporary debts in anticipation of the receipt of funds; and
(7) Solicit and accept any gifts or grants for community school purposes.
(b) A community school has all other powers that are necessary to fulfill its agreement and which are not inconsistent with this article.
§18-5D-6. Community school requirements.
Community schools are required to comply with the following provisions:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article, a community school is exempt from statutory requirements established in this chapter and chapters eighteen-a and eighteen-b of this code, from rules of the state board and supervision by the superintendent not specifically applicable to community schools. Community schools are not exempt from other statutes applicable to public schools;
(2) A community school is accountable to the parents, the public and the state, with the delineation of that accountability reflected in the school’s agreement. Strategies for meaningful parent and community involvement shall be developed and implemented by each school;
(3) A community school may not unlawfully discriminate in admissions, hiring or operation;
(4) A community school shall be nonsectarian in all operations;
(5) A community school may not advocate unlawful behavior;
(6) A community school is only subject to the laws and rules as provided in this article;
(7) A community school shall participate in any state assessment and accountability program conducted under article two-e of this chapter and shall cooperate with the office of education performance audits which shall annually conduct an on-site review of the school;
(8) A community school shall provide a minimum of one hundred eighty days of instruction or nine hundred hours per year of instruction. This subdivision does not preclude the use of computer and satellite linkages for delivering instruction to students; and
(9) Trustees of a community school are public officials.
§18-5D-7. Board of trustees.
(a) (1) Each school shall be operated by a board of trustees. The board consists of the president of the county board of education and one other board member elected by the board of education, and the dean of the school of education of the university or college and two other members appointed by the president of the university or college. Within thirty days after all the members representing the board of education and the university or college are appointed they shall jointly appoint two additional members. One of the additional members shall be a parent of a child enrolled in a public school in the county where the community school is proposed to be located. The other additional member shall be either, a teacher employed by the county board of education who is teaching in a public school in the county where the community school is proposed to be located or, a retired teacher residing in that county.
(2) After the students who will be attending the community school are selected and the teachers who will be teaching in the community school are selected, the board of trustees shall jointly appoint two additional members. One of the additional members shall be a parent of a child who will attend the community school. The other additional member shall be a teacher who will be employed to teach in the community school.
(b) The president of the county board of education and the dean of the school of education serve as cochairs for as long as they remain in their positions. The members elected from the board of education serve for terms of four years or until they are no longer on the board of education, whichever occurs first. They may be reappointed. The members appointed by the president shall serve for four-year terms. If the president appoints a person to serve on the board of trustees because the person holds a particular position with the university or college, the person serves only as long as he or she holds the position. All additional board members serve terms of four years or until they fail to qualify, as provided in subsection (a) of this section, whichever occurs first. Members receive no compensation for their service on the board, but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred as a member of the board.
§18-5D-8. Powers of board of trustees.
(a) The board of trustees of a community school has the responsibility for the operation of the school and the authority to decide matters related to its operation, including, but not limited to, budgeting, curriculum and operating procedures, subject to the school's agreement. The board may employ, discharge and contract with necessary professional and nonprofessional employees subject to the school's agreement and the provisions of this article.
(b) The board of trustees is a public body as that term is used in article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code, and a governing body as that term is used in article nine-a, chapter six of this code.
§18-5D-9. Establishment of community school; pilot project.
(a) A community school, beginning in a school year prior to the school year starting in 2016, may only be established by West Virginia University or Marshall University, or both.
(b) A community school may only be established by creating a new school.
(c) An application to establish a community school shall be submitted to the county board of education where the community school will be located by November 15 of the school year preceding the school year in which the community school will be established, except that for a community school beginning in the school year starting in 2014, an application must be received by July 1, 2014.
(d) Within forty-five days of receipt of an application, the county board of education in which the proposed community school is to be located shall hold at least one public meeting on the provisions of the community school application. The meeting is subject to article nine-a, chapter six of this code. At least forty-five days shall transpire between the first public meeting and the final decision of the board on the community school application, except that for a community school beginning in the school year starting in 2015, only thirty days are required to transpire between the first public hearing and the final decision of the board.
(e) (1) Not later than seventy-five days after the first public meeting on the application, the county board of education shall grant or deny the application. For a community school beginning in the school year starting in 2014, the county board of education shall grant or deny the application no later than thirty days after the first public hearing.
(2) A community school application submitted under this article shall be evaluated by the county board of education based on criteria, including, but not limited to, the following:
(A) The demonstrated, sustainable support for the community school plan by teachers, parents, other community members and students, including comments received at the public hearing held under subsection (d) of this section;
(B) The capability of the community school, in terms of support and planning, to provide comprehensive learning experiences to students pursuant to the adopted agreement;
(C) The extent to which the application considers the information requested in section ten of this article and conforms to the legislative intent outlined in section two of this article; and
(D) The extent to which the community school may serve as a model for other public schools.
(3) A community school application is approved by the county board of education of a county upon affirmative vote by a majority of all the members. Formal action approving or denying the application shall be taken by the county board of education at a public meeting, with notice or consideration of the application given by the board, under article nine-a, chapter six of this code.
(4) Written notice of the board's action shall be sent to the university or college. If the application is denied, the reasons for the denial including a description of deficiencies in the application shall be clearly stated in the notice sent by the county board of education to the university or college.
(f) At the option of the university or college a denied application may be revised and resubmitted to the county board of education. When an application is revised and resubmitted to the county board of education, the board may schedule additional public hearings on the revised application. The board shall consider the revised and resubmitted application at the first board meeting occurring at least forty-five days after receipt of the revised application by the board. For a revised application resubmitted for a community school desiring to begin in the school year starting in 2014, the board shall consider the application at the first board meeting occurring at least thirty days after its receipt. The board shall provide notice of consideration of the revised application under the provisions of article nine-a, chapter six of this code.
§18-5D-10. Contents of application.
An application to establish a community school shall include all of the following information:
(1) The identification of the community school applicant;
(2) The name of the proposed community school;
(3) The grade or age levels served by the school;
(4) A description of how parental participation will be encouraged in the planning and the operation of the community school;
(5) The agreement and education goals of the community school, the curriculum to be offered and the methods of assessing whether students are meeting educational goals;
(6) The admission policy and criteria for evaluating the admission of students which shall comply with the requirements of section thirteen of this article;
(7) Procedures which will be used regarding the suspension or expulsion of pupils. The procedures shall comply, as applicable, with section eight, article eight of this chapter and section one-a, article five, chapter eighteen-a of this code;
(8) Information on the manner in which community groups will be involved in the community school planning process;
(9) The financial plan for the community school and the provisions which will be made for auditing the school under article nine, chapter six of this code;
(10) Procedures which shall be established to review complaints of parents regarding the operation of the community school;
(11) A description of and address of the physical facility in which the community school will be located and the ownership of the facility and any lease arrangements;
(12) Information on the proposed school calendar for the community school, including the length of the school day and school year consistent with the provisions of section fifteen, article eight of this chapter;
(13) The proposed faculty and a professional development plan for the faculty of the community school; and
(14) Whether any agreements have been entered into or plans developed with the county board of education regarding participation of the community school students in extracurricular activities within the county. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, a county of residence may not prohibit a student of a community school from participating in any extracurricular activity of that county of residence if the student is able to fulfill all of the requirements of participation in the activity and the community school does not provide the same extracurricular activity.
§18-5D-11. Term and form of agreement.
Upon approval of a community school application under section nine of this article, a written agreement shall be developed which shall contain the provisions of the community school application. This written agreement, when approved by the county board of education and the community school's board of trustees acts as legal authorization for the establishment of a community school. This written agreement is legally binding on both the county board of education and the community school's board of trustees. The agreement shall be for a period of not less than three, nor more than five years, and may be renewed for five-year periods upon reauthorization by the county board of education.
The community school facility is exempt from public school facility rules, except those pertaining to the health or safety of the pupils.
(a) All resident children in this state qualify for admission to a community school within the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. If more students apply to the community school than the number of attendance slots available in the school, then students shall be selected on a random basis by the board of trustees from a pool of qualified applicants meeting the established eligibility criteria and submitting an application by the deadline established by the community school. The community school may give preference in enrollment to a child of a parent who has actively participated in the development of the community school and to siblings of students who are presently, or were previously, enrolled in the community school.
(b) (1) A community school may not discriminate in its admission policies or practices, except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, on the basis of intellectual ability, athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a person with a disability, proficiency in the English language or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a county board of education.
(2) A community school may limit admission to a particular grade level.
§18-5D-14. School staff.
(a) The board of trustees shall determine the level of compensation and all terms and conditions of employment of the staff, except as may otherwise be provided in this article. Professional staff members of a community school shall hold appropriate state certification, as determined by the board of trustees.
(b) Each community school application shall list the general qualifications needed to staff any noncertified positions.
(c) All employees of a community school shall participate in the teachers' defined contribution retirement system, provided in article seven-b of this chapter, to the same extent as if they were employees of the county board of education. Except, that employees transferring from a county board of education shall participate in the retirement system they participated in as an employee of the board of education. The community school shall make any required employer's contribution to the county board of education's retirement plan.
(d) Every employee of a community school shall be provided the same health care benefits as the employee would be provided if he or she were an employee of the county board of education. The community school shall make any required employer's contribution to the county board of education's health plan.
(e) Any public school employee offered employment at a community school, by its board of trustees, may request a leave of absence from the employing county board of education for up to five years in order to work in a community school. Approval for a leave may not be unreasonably withheld.
(f) Temporary professional employees on leave from a county board of education may accrue tenure in the noncommunity public school system the same as they would under article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code if they had continued to be employed by that county. Professional employees on leave from a county board of education retain their continuing contract status rights, as defined in article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code, in the school entity from which they came. A temporary professional employee or professional employee may not have tenure rights as against a community school. Both temporary professional employees and professional employees continue to accrue seniority in the school entity from which they came if they return to that school entity when the leave ends.
(g) Any temporary professional employee or professional employee who leaves employment at a community school has the right to return to a comparable position for which the person is properly certified in the school entity which granted the leave of absence.
(h) Subsection (d), section fifteen-c, article five of this chapter applies to community schools. The community school shall obtain the information required by that subsection on all individuals who will have direct contact with students prior to accepting them for a position with the community school.
§18-5D-15. Funding for community schools.
(a) Funding for a community school shall be provided in the following manner:
(1) There may be no tuition charge for a resident student attending a community school.
(2) The community school shall receive for each student enrolled no less than the budgeted total expenditure per average daily membership of the prior school year. This amount shall be paid by the county board of education in the county of residence of the community school.
(3) A community school may request the county board of education in which the community school is located to provide services to assist the community school to address the specific needs of special education and exceptional students.
(4) Payments shall be made to the community school in twelve equal monthly payments, by the fifth day of each month, within the operating school year. A student enrolled in a community school shall be included in the average daily membership of the student's county of residence for the purpose of providing education funding payments pursuant to article nine-a of chapter eighteen of this code. If a county board of education fails to make a payment to a community school as prescribed in this clause the superintendent shall deduct the amount, as documented by the community school, from any and all state payments made to the county board of education after receipt of documentation from the community school.
(b) The state board shall provide temporary financial assistance to a county board of education due to the enrollment of students in a community school who attended a nonpublic school in the prior school year in order to offset the additional costs directly related to the enrollment of those students in a public community school. The state board shall pay the county board of education of the county of residence of a student enrolled in a nonpublic school in the prior school year who is attending a community school an amount equal to the county board of education of the county of residence's basic education subsidy for the current school year divided by the county's average daily membership for the prior school year. This payment may occur only for the first year of the attendance of the student in a community school starting with the school year beginning in 2014. Total payments of temporary financial assistance to county board of educations on behalf of a student enrolling in a community school who attended a nonpublic school in the prior school year shall be limited to funds appropriated for this program in a fiscal year. If the total of the amount needed for all students enrolled in a nonpublic school in the prior school year who enroll in a community school exceeds the appropriation for the temporary financial assistance program, the amount paid to a county board of education for each qualifying student shall be pro rata reduced. Receipt of funds under this subsection do not preclude a county board of education or state university or college from applying for funding grants.
(c) The state board, with funds appropriated by the Legislature and other available funds, shall create a grant program to provide temporary transitional funding to a county board of education due to the budgetary impact relating to any student attending a community school. A county board of education that approves a community school may apply for a grant under this subsection. The state board shall develop criteria which shall include, but not be limited to, the overall fiscal impact on the budget of the county board of education resulting from students of a county attending a community school. The criteria shall be published in the State Register. Payments under this subsection shall be made for the first year of operation of the community school.
(d) A community school may receive, hold, manage and use, absolutely or in trust, any devise, bequest, grant, endowment, gift or donation of any property, real or personal and mixed or both real and personal, which is made to the community school for any of the purposes of this article.
(e) A trustee of a community school, or any board of trustees of a community school, or any other person affiliated in any way with a community school may not demand or request, directly or indirectly, any gift, donation or contribution of any kind from any parent, teacher, employee or any other person affiliated with the community school as a condition for employment or enrollment or continued attendance of any pupil. Any donation, gift or contribution received by a community school shall be given freely and voluntarily.
Students who reside in the county in which the community school is located shall be provided transportation to the community school on the same terms and conditions as transportation is provided to students attending the schools of the county.
§18-5D-17. Tort liability.
(a) For purposes of tort liability, employees of the community school are considered public employees and the board of trustees is considered the public employer in the same manner as political subdivisions and local agencies.
(b) The Board of Risk and Insurance Management shall provide adequate liability and other appropriate insurance for a community school, its employees and the board of trustees of the community school. The community school is responsible for the cost of the insurance.
§18-5D-18. Annual reports and assessments.
(a) The county board of education shall annually assess whether each community school is meeting the goals of its agreement and shall conduct a comprehensive review prior to granting a five- year renewal of the agreement. The county board of education shall have reasonable access to the records and facilities of the community school to ensure that the community school is in compliance with its agreement and this article and that requirements for testing, civil rights and student health and safety are being met.
(b) In order to facilitate the county board of education's review, each community school shall submit an annual report no later than August 1 of each year to the county board of education and the superintendent.
(c) Five years following the effective date of this article, the superintendent shall contract with an independent professional consultant with expertise in public and private education. The consultant shall receive input from members of the educational community and the public on the community school program. The consultant shall submit a report to the superintendent, the Governor and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance and an evaluation of the community school program, which shall include a recommendation on the advisability of the continuation, modification, expansion or termination of the program and any recommendations for changes in the structure of the program.
§18-5D-19. Causes for nonrenewal or termination.
(a) During the term of the agreement or at the end of the term of the agreement, the county board of education may choose to revoke or not to renew the agreement based on any of the following:
(1) One or more material violations of any of the conditions, standards or procedures contained in the written agreement approved pursuant to section eleven of this article;
(2) Failure to meet any requirements for student performance set forth in, or promulgated under, article two-e, chapter eighteen of this code or failure to meet any performance standard set forth in the written agreement approved pursuant to section eleven of this article;
(3) Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management or audit requirements;
(4) Violation of this article; or
(5) Violation of any provision of law from which the community school has not been exempted, including federal laws and regulations governing children with disabilities.
(b) A member of the board of trustees who is convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude is immediately disqualified from serving on the board of trustees.
(c) Any notice of revocation or nonrenewal of an agreement given by the county board of education shall state the grounds for the action with reasonable specificity and give reasonable notice to the board of trustees of the community school of the date on which a public hearing concerning the revocation or nonrenewal will be held. The county board of education shall conduct the hearing, present evidence in support of the grounds for revocation or nonrenewal stated in its notice and give the community school reasonable opportunity to offer testimony before taking final action. Formal action revoking or not renewing a community school agreement requires an affirmative vote by a majority of all members of the county board of education at a public meeting after the public has had thirty days to provide comments to the board.
(d) When a community school agreement is revoked or is not renewed, the community school shall be dissolved.
(e) When a community school agreement is revoked or is not renewed, a student who attended the community school shall apply to another public school in the student's county of residence. Normal application deadlines will be disregarded under these circumstances. All student records maintained by the community school shall be forwarded to the county board of education in which the student resides.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize public universities and colleges with an accredited education program to operate public schools in cooperation with the local county board of education. The bill establishes a pilot project allowing only West Virginia University and Marshall University to operate public schools in cooperation with the Monongalia and Cabell County Boards of Education for school years beginning prior to 2016. The bill authorizes public colleges or universities to sponsor community schools in cooperation with county boards of education. The bill provides short title. The bill states legislative intent. The bill provides definitions. The bill states powers of community schools and requirements. The bill provides for boards of trustees and their powers. The bill establishes pilot projects. The bill sets forth the content of an application for a community school. The bill requires a written agreement between a county board and the community school board. The bill provides exemption from public schools facility rules. The bill provides for enrollment. The bill provides for school staff and students. The bill requires a county board of education to fund each community school in its county. The bill provides for the transportation of students. The bill establishes tort liability of community schools. The bill requires annual reports and assessments. The bill provides causes for nonrenewal or termination.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.