An Act To Create a Public Charter School Program in Maine
Sec. 1. 5 MRSA §12004-G, sub-§10-D is enacted to read:
|Education||State Charter School Commission||Travel Expenses Only||20-A MRSA §2407, sub-§9|
Sec. 2. 20-A MRSA §1, sub-§26, ¶F, as enacted by PL 2007, c. 668, §1, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 20-A MRSA §1, sub-§26, ¶G, as amended by PL 2009, c. 580, §2, is further amended to read:
Sec. 4. 20-A MRSA §1, sub-§26, ¶H is enacted to read:
Sec. 5. 20-A MRSA §202, sub-§16, as enacted by PL 1981, c. 693, §§5 and 8, is amended to read:
Sec. 6. 20-A MRSA §202, sub-§17, as enacted by PL 1981, c. 693, §§5 and 8, is amended to read:
Sec. 7. 20-A MRSA §202, sub-§18 is enacted to read:
Sec. 8. 20-A MRSA c. 112 is enacted to read:
§ 2401. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
(1) Includes one or more of the following: preschool, prekindergarten and any grade or grades from kindergarten to grade 12;
(2) May include a focus on students with special needs, such as at-risk pupils, English language learners or students involved with the juvenile justice system;
(3) May include a specific academic approach or theme, such as:
(a) Vocational and technical training;
(b) Natural resources and the environment;
(c) Farming, fishing and forestry;
(d) Foreign language and culture;
(e) Visual and performing arts;
(f) Science, mathematics and technology; and
(g) Project-based learning, experiential learning or online instruction;
§ 2402. Public charter schools authorized
Charter schools may be established as public schools pursuant to this chapter to improve pupil learning by creating more high-quality schools with high standards for pupil performance; to close achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing groups of public school students; to increase high-quality educational opportunities within the public education system; to provide alternative learning environments for students who are not thriving in traditional school settings; to create new professional opportunities for teachers and other school personnel; to encourage the use of different, high-quality models of teaching and other aspects of schooling; and to provide students, parents, community members and local entities with expanded opportunities for involvement in the public education system.
§ 2403. Role of the department; commissioner; rules
§ 2404. Public charter school eligibility; enrollment
§ 2405. Prohibition
A local school district may not require a student enrolled in the local school district to attend a public charter school.
§ 2406. Public information
A local school district shall provide or publicize to parents and the general public information about public charter schools authorized by the district as an enrollment option within the district to the same extent and through the same means that the district provides and publicizes information about noncharter public schools in the district.
§ 2407. Authorizers
(1) Approved, but not yet open;
(6) Closed; or
(7) Never opened; and
(1) Three members must be members of the state board, and those 3 members shall nominate the other 4 members who must be approved by a majority vote of the state board.
(2) Members appointed to the commission must have diverse professional experience in education, social services, youth training, business startup and administration, accounting and finance, strategic planning and nonprofit governance.
(3) A commission member may serve a total of 3 consecutive terms.
(4) A commission member may not receive compensation, but may be reimbursed for travel expenses.
(1) Engage professional and administrative staff, separate from the department;
(2) Convene stakeholder groups and engage experts; and
(3) Seek and receive state, federal and private funds.
§ 2408. Request for proposals
(1) The proposed public charter school's vision, including:
(a) An executive summary;
(b) The mission and vision of the proposed public charter school, including identification of the targeted student population and the community the school hopes to serve; and
(c) Evidence of need and community support for the proposed public charter school;
(2) The proposed public charter school's governance plan, including:
(a) Background information on proposed board members and any assurances or certifications required by the authorizer;
(b) Proposed governing bylaws;
(c) An organization chart that clearly presents the school's organizational structure, including lines of authority and reporting between the governing board, staff and any related bodies such as advisory bodies or parent and teacher councils, and any external organizations that will play a role in managing the school;
(d) A clear description of the roles and responsibilities for the governing board, the school's leadership and management team and any other entities shown on the organization chart;
(e) Identification of the proposed founding governing board members and, if identified, the proposed school leader or leaders; and
(f) Background information on the school's leadership and management team, if identified;
(3) The proposed public charter school's plan of organization, including:
(a) The location or geographic area of the school;
(b) The grades to be served each year for the full term of the charter;
(c) Minimum, planned and maximum enrollment per grade per year for the term of the charter;
(d) The school's proposed calendar and sample daily schedule;
(e) Plans and timelines for student recruitment and enrollment, including lottery procedures;
(f) Explanations of any partnerships or contractual relationships central to the school's operations or mission;
(g) The school's proposals for providing transportation, food service and other significant operational or ancillary services;
(h) A facilities plan, including backup or contingency plans if appropriate;
(i) A detailed school start-up plan, identifying tasks, timelines and responsible individuals; and
(j) A closure protocol, outlining orderly plans and timelines for transitioning students and student records to new schools and for appropriately disposing of school funds, property and assets in the event of school closure;
(4) The proposed public charter school's finances, including:
(a) A description of the school's financial plan and policies, including financial controls and audit requirements;
(b) Start-up and 3-year budgets with clearly stated assumptions;
(c) Start-up and first-year cash-flow projections with clearly stated assumptions;
(d) Evidence of anticipated fund-raising contributions, if claimed in the application; and
(e) A description of the insurance coverage the school proposes to obtain;
(5) The proposed public charter school's student policy, including:
(a) The school's plans for identifying and successfully serving students with the wide range of learning needs and styles typically found in schools of the sending area;
(b) The school's plans for compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations; and
(c) The school's student discipline plans and policies, including those for special education students;
(6) The proposed public charter school's academic program, including:
(a) A description of the academic program aligned with the statewide system of learning results under section 6209;
(b) A description of the school's instructional design, including the type of learning environment, such as classroom-based or independent study, class size and structure, curriculum overview, teaching methods and research basis;
(c) The school's plan for using internal and external assessments to measure and report student progress on the measures and metrics of the performance framework developed by the authorizer in accordance with section 2411; and
(d) A description of cocurricular or extracurricular programs and how they will be funded and delivered; and
(7) The proposed public charter school's staff policy, including:
(a) A staffing chart for the school's first year and a staffing plan for the term of the charter;
(b) Plans for recruiting and developing school leadership and staff;
(c) The school's leadership and teacher employment policies, including performance evaluation plans; and
(d) Opportunities and expectations for parent involvement.
If the school to be converted is the only public school option for students in the school administrative unit, the request for proposals must additionally require that the conversion be approved by voters in that school administrative unit.
(1) Explain how and why the education service provider was selected;
(2) Provide evidence of the education service provider's success in serving student populations similar to the targeted population, including demonstrated academic achievement as well as successful management of nonacademic school functions if applicable;
(3) Provide information on the proposed duration of the service contract; roles and responsibilities; scope of services and resources to be provided by the education service provider; performance evaluation measures and timelines; compensation structure, including clear identification of all fees to be paid to the education service provider; methods of contract oversight and enforcement; investment disclosure; and conditions for renewal and termination of the contract;
(4) Provide a draft of the proposed service contract including all of the terms in subparagraphs (1), (2) and (3);
(5) Explain the relationship between the governing board and the education service provider, specifying how the governing board will monitor and evaluate the performance of the education service provider, the internal controls that will guide the relationship and how the governing board will ensure fulfillment of performance expectations;
(6) Provide a statement of assurance that the governing board is legally and operationally independent from the education service provider; and
(7) Disclose and explain any existing or potential conflicts of interest between the governing board and the education service provider or any affiliated business entities.
§ 2409. Charter applications
(1) Grant charters only to applicants that have demonstrated competence in each element of the authorizer's published approval criteria and are likely to open and operate a successful public charter school;
(2) Base decisions on documented evidence collected through the application review process; and
(3) Follow charter-granting policies and practices that are transparent, based on merit and avoid conflicts of interest or any appearance of a conflict of interest.
§ 2410. Charter contracts
(1) Performance provisions describing the academic and operational performance expectations and measures by which the public charter school will be judged; and
(2) Administrative provisions articulating the administrative relationship between the authorizer and the public charter school, including each party's rights and duties.
(1) Frequent, ongoing monitoring to ensure and verify that each student is participating in the virtual public charter school, including proctored assessments each semester in core subjects graded or evaluated by the teacher, and at least biweekly parent-teacher conferences in person or by telephone;
(2) Regular instructional opportunities in real time that are directly related to the virtual public charter school's curricular objectives, including, but not limited to, meetings with teachers and educational field trips and outings;
(3) Verification of ongoing student attendance in the virtual public charter school;
(4) Verification of ongoing student progress and performance in each course as documented by ongoing assessments and examples of student course work; and
(5) Administration to all students in a proctored setting of all applicable assessments as required by the State.
Nothing in this subsection prohibits a virtual public charter school from reimbursing families of enrolled students for costs associated with their Internet connection for use in the program.
Only students enrolled in a virtual public charter school as full-time students may be reported in the virtual public charter school's average pupil count to the department for the purposes of receiving local, state and federal funds.
§ 2411. Public charter school performance framework
§ 2412. Oversight
§ 2413. Charter term and renewal
(1) Present additional evidence, beyond the data contained in the performance report, supporting its case for charter renewal;
(2) Describe improvements undertaken or planned for the school; and
(3) Detail the school's plans for the next charter term.
(1) Committed a material violation of any of the terms, conditions, standards or procedures required under this chapter or the charter contract;
(2) Failed to meet or make sufficient progress toward the performance expectations set forth in the charter contract;
(3) Failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; or
(4) Violated any provision of law from which the school was not exempted.
§ 2414. Operations
(1) The local school district in which the public charter school is located remains the local educational agency and the public charter school is a school within that local educational agency;
(2) The public charter school receives services, resources and support in the same manner as other local school district public schools, except that the public charter school is treated as a local educational agency for purposes of applying for competitive federal grants; and
(3) The local school district retains responsibility for special education and serves students in public charter schools in a manner consistent with local educational agency obligations under applicable federal, state and local law.
(1) The public charter school functions for all purposes as a local educational agency independent of the local school district in which the school is located. Local educational agency status does not preclude a public charter school from developing links to local school districts for services, resources and programs, by mutual agreement or by formal contract;
(2) To the extent permitted by federal, state or local laws, the public charter school is responsible for meeting the requirements of local educational agencies under applicable federal, state and local laws, including those relating to special education, receipt of funds and compliance with funding requirements; and
(3) The funding and educational decision-making process for special education students attending the public charter school is the responsibility of the local educational agency of residence, and all options available to the parents and the local educational agency through the student's original local school district must be retained. To the extent permitted by federal, state or local laws, the public charter school has primary responsibility for special education at the school, including identification and provision of service, and is responsible for meeting the needs of enrolled students with disabilities. In instances when a student's individualized education program team, including representatives from the student's local school district of residence, determines that a student's needs are so profound that they cannot be met in the public charter school and that the school cannot provide to the student a free, appropriate public education as defined in section 7001, subsection 2-A, the individualized education program team must work with the student's local school district of residence to find a placement in a more appropriate setting.
(1) Teachers who are employees of the public charter school have the same rights as other teachers in public education to organize and bargain collectively. Bargaining units at the public charter school must be separate from other bargaining units, such as a district bargaining unit. Staff at noncharter public schools converting to public charter schools have a right to employment benefits as stated in applicable collective bargaining agreements or they may vote to be represented in alternative ways.
(2) A teacher who is an employee of the public charter school may choose to be part of a professional group that operates the instructional program under an agreement with the public charter school, forming a partnership or producer cooperative that the teachers collectively own.
(3) Teachers who are employees of the public charter school may not be required to be members of any existing collective bargaining agreement between a local school district and its employees. A public charter school may not interfere with civil service laws or other applicable rules protecting the rights of employees to organize and be free from discrimination.
§ 2415. Funding
(1) The per-pupil allocation amounts must be based on the same per-pupil rates that are provided for subsidizable pupils who reside in the school administrative unit and who are educated at public expense for the current fiscal year. These amounts must reflect each student's status according to grade level, economic disadvantage, limited English proficiency and special education needs, as provided in the resident essential programs and services allocation for the school administrative unit. The department shall adopt rules governing cost-sharing for students participating in gifted and talented and vocational, technical and career education programs. For transportation expenses, the average per-pupil expense in each school administrative unit of residence must be calculated and a per-pupil allocation of that amount must be forwarded to the public charter school attended on the same basis as the per-pupil allocations for operating funds. Debt service and capital outlays may not be included in the calculation of these per-pupil allocations. The department shall adopt rules governing how to calculate these per-pupil allocations to the school administrative units of residence and to the public charter schools.
(2) For students attending public charter schools, the school administrative unit of residence shall forward the per-pupil allocations described in subparagraph (1) directly to the charter school attended. These per-pupil allocations must be forwarded to each charter school on a quarterly basis, as follows. For each fiscal year, allocations must be made in quarterly payments on September 1st, December 1st, March 1st and June 1st. The September payment must be based on the number of students enrolled or anticipated to be enrolled in the public charter school at the opening of school for that school year, which may not exceed the maximum enrollment approved in the charter contract for that year unless a waiver is obtained from the authorizer. In February of the school year, if the number of students is higher or lower than the number of students at the beginning of the school year, adjustments must be made in the June payment, with 50% of the annual per-pupil allocation added for additional students or subtracted if the total number of students is lower.
(1) The funding and educational decision-making process for special education pupils attending a public charter school is the responsibility of the local educational agency of residence, and all current options available to the parents and the local educational agency through the pupil's original local school district must be retained.
(2) The local school district of residence shall pay directly to the public charter school any federal or state aid attributable to a student with a disability attending the public charter school in proportion to the level of services for the student with a disability that the public charter school provides directly or indirectly.
(1) Public charter schools with students eligible for funds under Title I of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 20 United States Code, Section 6301 et seq. must receive and use these funds in accordance with federal and state law. During the first year of operation, a public charter school must receive Title I funds on the basis of an estimated enrollment of eligible students, as agreed with its authorizer.
(2) A public charter school must be considered a local educational agency for purposes of applying for competitive grants.
§ 2416. Facilities
§ 2417. Miscellaneous
Sec. 9. Review of retirement laws. The Maine Public Employees Retirement System shall review the laws governing participating local districts’ retirement plans and shall submit, by December 1, 2011, a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs that includes any proposed legislation necessary to fully implement this Act.
Sec. 10. Staggered terms. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 2407, subsection 9, of the initial members of the State Charter School Commission, one member who is also a member of the State Board of Education serves a 3-year term, one member who is a member of the state board serves a 2-year term and one member who is a member of the state board serves a one-year term. Two members who are approved by the state board serve 3-year terms, one serves a 2-year term and one serves a one-year term.
This bill establishes a process to authorize the establishment of public charter schools in the State.