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sb758 intr
Senate Bill No. 758

(By Senators Wells, McCabe, Jenkins, Oliverio, Foster and Stollings)

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[Introduced March 23, 2009; 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 public charter schools; definitions; applicable regulatory and statutory requirements; exemptions from state laws and rules; creating of public charter school or conversion of public school to public charter school; application process; approval and denial of application; charter status term; terminating of public charter school; public charter school requirements; funding; enrollment; student transportation; conditional approval; information on charter schools; leaves of absence for teachers; employment of school personnel; and benefits.

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 VIRGINIANA PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS ACT OF 2009.

§18-33-1. Definitions.
(a) "Governing body" means the organized group of persons who will operate a public charter school by deciding matters including, but not limited to, budgeting, curriculum and other operating procedures for the public charter school and by overseeing management and administration of a public charter school. The "governing body" shall include one nonvoting member appointed by the superintendent of the district in which the public charter school is located.
(b) "Public charter school" 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 charter school: 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. Charter schools.
(a) Public charter schools are a part of the state program of public education.
(b) Public charter schools 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 charter schools 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 charter school from the laws and rules set forth in subsection (c) of this section, the governing body of a public charter school 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 charter schools.
(a) A public charter school may be formed by creating a new school or converting an eligible public school to charter status pursuant to the provisions of this article.
(b) Newly created charter schools are subject to the following:
(1) The sponsor of a public charter school shall file a public charter school 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 charter school shall be operated by a not-for- profit organization that is exempt from federal taxation under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. No charter shall be granted to a for-profit corporation.
(c) The conversion of a public school is subject to the following:
(1) An eligible public school may convert to a public charter school pursuant to the provisions of this article if the parents of sixty percent of the children enrolled at the school or sixty percent of the teachers assigned to the school agree and demonstrate support by signing a petition seeking conversion. The percentage of parents signing a petition shall be calculated on the basis of one vote for each household. At the time of conversion to a charter school, parents whose children are enrolled at the school shall have the option to 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 charter school, any school person employed at the school, at that school person's discretion or if dismissed from employment in their position at the charter school, may transfer to another position filled by a less senior school person outside of the public charter school but within the school district or placed on a preferred recall list, as applicable, as if a reduction in work force had occurred pursuant to article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code.
(d) No charter agreement shall be granted under this article that authorizes the conversion of any private, parochial, Internet- based or home-based school to charter status.
(e) Nothing in this article shall be construed to prohibit any individual or organization from providing funding or other assistance to the establishment or operation of a public charter school, but the funding or assistance shall 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 charter school plans to begin operation, the sponsor seeking to establish a public charter school 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 charter school;
(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 charter school;
(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 charter school;
(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 charter school, 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 charter school;
(12) A statement of assurance of liability by the governing body of the charter school;
(13) Types and amounts of insurance coverage to be held by the charter school, 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 charter school;
(14) The plan for transportation for pupils attending the charter school if transportation is provided;
(15) Information regarding financing commitments from debt sources for cash or similar liquid assets sufficient to demonstrate that the charter school 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 charter school 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 charter application process.
(b) 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 charter status term.
(a) The state board has authority to approve or deny applications to establish a public charter school: 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 charter application within sixty days of receiving the application. If the state board fails to approve or deny a charter application within the sixty days, the application is considered approved.
(c) If a decision of the state board is to deny a charter school 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 charter application within sixty days. If the state board fails to approve or deny a resubmitted or amended charter application within the sixty days, the application is considered approved.
(d) Approval of a charter school application is effective for five years from the date of approval, after which the school's status as a public charter school is revoked unless the sponsor applies for public charter school status again pursuant to this article.
§18-33-6. Termination of public charter school.
(a) Upon dissolution of a charter school for any reason or if a charter is not renewed, any unencumbered public funds from the charter school revert to the county board of the district in which the charter school is located.
(b) If a charter school is dissolved for any reason or a charter is not renewed, the charter school is responsible for all debts of the charter school. Neither the county board of the district where the charter school is located or any other governmental entity may assume the debt from any contract for services made between the governing body of the public charter school 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 charter school and that may not reasonably be assumed to have been satisfied by the county board.
§18-33-7. Compliance.
(a) A public charter school 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 chartering authority and in compliance with the charter agreement and this article;
(2) Meet the same performance standards and requirements adopted by the state board for other public schools;
(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.
(b) A public charter school shall be 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 charter school shall comply with all applicable health and safety standards, regulations and laws of the United States and State of West Virginia.
(d) A public charter school shall be accountable to the state board for the purposes 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 charter school.
(f) A public charter school shall be governed and managed by a governing body.
(g) The governing body of a public charter school shall be 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 charter school 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) All teachers in a charter school must have a current valid West Virginia teaching certificate or permit.
(j) A public charter school 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 charter school is located.
(k) A public charter school shall not charge tuition.
(l) A public charter school 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.
(m) A public charter school shall maintain its accounts and records in accordance the Governmental Accounting Standards Board standards.
(n) A public charter school shall require all students to wear a school uniform.
§18-33-8. Funding.
(a) The county board of the county in which a public charter school is located shall allocate one hundred percent of the state and local education funds to the public charter school based on the per pupil expenditure of the county board, subject to sections ten and fourteen of this article. The per pupil expenditure shall be based on the net enrollment of the district for the previous school year. All funds shall be spent according to the budget submitted in the charter agreement, or as otherwise revised by the public charter request of the governing body, subject to state and federal law. The governing body of a public charter school may contract with the county board of the district in which the public charter school is located to act as fiscal agent for a public charter school.
(b) 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 charter school, on the basis of the anticipated enrollment in the charter agreement, which amount shall be subsequently adjusted to reflect the actual number of students enrolled.
(c) A public charter school 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 charter school, if any, and any other funds that may be received by the county board of the district in which the public charter school is located. Receipt of any of these funds shall be reported to the state board. Public charter schools, county boards and the state superintendent are encouraged to apply for federal funds appropriated specifically for the support of charter schools.
§18-33-9. Enrollment.
(a) Participation in a public charter school shall be based on parental choice, or the choice of the legal guardian or custodian.
(b) A public charter school 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 charter school, 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 charter school;
(2) Pupils attending public schools within the district in which the public charter school is located;
(3) Children residing within the district in which the public charter school 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 charter school; and
(2) In order to promote competition with other public schools in the county in which a charter school 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 charter school 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.
If a public charter school elects to provide transportation for its pupils, the transportation shall be provided by the school or by agreement with the county board of the district within which the school is located in the same manner it would be provided if the students were enrolled in any other school within the district. If transportation is provided by agreement with the county board, the county board may reduce the amount of funding paid to the public charter school under section eight of this article or may otherwise charge the public charter school for the transportation services pursuant to the agreement between the county board and the public charter school.
§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 charter school 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 charter school will have liquid assets sufficiently available to operate the school on an ongoing and sound financial basis.
§18-33-12. Information on charter schools.
(a) The state superintendent shall provide information to the public through its Internet site and otherwise on how to form and operate a public charter school. 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 charter school applications and shall maintain information on the total number of charter school applications, total number of charter school applications granted by type of school and total number of charter school 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 charter school, 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 charter school 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 charter school.
§18-33-14. Employment of school personnel; insurance; retirement.
(a) School personnel employed at a public charter school are considered employees of the county board of the district in which the public charter school is located for the purposes of salary and benefits. The charter school 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 charter school. The county board also shall dismiss school personnel assigned to a public charter school upon the recommendation of the governing board of a public charter school. The governing board has supervisory authority over the school personnel assigned to the school.
(b) The county board shall either reduce the amount of funding paid to the public charter school under section eight of this article or may otherwise charge the public charter school for the cost of the salaries and benefits for the school personnel employed by the county board and assigned to the charter school.
(c) Since school personnel employed at a charter school are considered employees of a county board all school personnel employed at a public charter school 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 either the Teachers Retirement System or the defined contribution plan, as applicable, 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.
(d) The county board shall reduce the amount of funding paid to the public charter school under section eight of this article or otherwise charge the public charter school, at the discretion of the public charter school, for the salaries and benefits of the school personnel assigned to the school.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to
create public charter schools 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 charter school. The bill also established public charter school requirements, conditional approval of schools, funding, enrollment of students and their transportation. The bill establishes the school term, provides information on charter schools, sets forth leaves of absence for teachers, employment of school personnel and their benefits. The bill additionally provides a termination process of a public charter school.


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