Florida Senate - 2015 SB 720 By Senator Ring 29-00122B-15 2015720__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to school choice; amending s. 1002.33, 3 F.S.; requiring a person or officer of an entity who 4 submits a charter school application to undergo 5 background screening; prohibiting a sponsor from 6 approving a charter school application until 7 completion and receipt of the results of such 8 screening; requiring a charter school applicant to 9 provide evidence of accreditation; revising the 10 deadline by which a charter school must have a 11 certificate of occupancy or temporary certificate of 12 occupancy; requiring that approval of a charter be 13 based on documentation of adequate financial resources 14 to support the charter school’s operation; removing 15 obsolete language; amending s. 1002.331, F.S.; 16 conforming a cross-reference to changes made by the 17 act; providing an effective date. 18 19 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 20 21 Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (6), paragraph (a) 22 of subsection (7), and paragraph (c) of subsection (17) of 23 section 1002.33, Florida Statutes, are amended, present 24 paragraphs (g) and (h) of subsection (6) of that section are 25 redesignated as paragraphs (h) and (i), respectively, and a new 26 paragraph (g) is added to that subsection, to read: 27 1002.33 Charter schools.— 28 (6) APPLICATION PROCESS AND REVIEW.—Charter school 29 applications are subject to the following requirements: 30 (b) A sponsor shall receive and review all applications for 31 a charter school using an evaluation instrument developed by the 32 Department of Education. A sponsor shall receive and consider 33 charter school applications received on or before August 1 of 34 each calendar year for charter schools to be opened at the 35 beginning of the school district’s next school year, or to be 36 opened at a time agreed to by the applicant and the sponsor. A 37 sponsor may not refuse to receive a charter school application 38 submitted before August 1 and may receive an application 39 submitted later than August 1 if it chooses. In order to 40 facilitate greater collaboration in the application process, an 41 applicant may submit a draft charter school application on or 42 before May 1 with an application fee of $500. If a draft 43 application is timely submitted, the sponsor shall review and 44 provide feedback as to material deficiencies in the application 45 by July 1. The applicant shall then have until August 1 to 46 resubmit a revised and final application. The sponsor may 47 approve the draft application. A sponsor may not charge an 48 applicant for a charter any fee for the processing or 49 consideration of an application, and a sponsor may not base its 50 consideration or approval of a final application upon the 51 promise of future payment of any kind. Before approving or 52 denying any final application, the sponsor shall allow the 53 applicant, upon receipt of written notification, at least 7 54 calendar days to make technical or nonsubstantive corrections 55 and clarifications, including, but not limited to, corrections 56 of grammatical, typographical, and like errors or missing 57 signatures, if such errors are identified by the sponsor as 58 cause to deny the final application. 59 1. In order to facilitate an accurate budget projection 60 process, a sponsor shall be held harmless for FTE students who 61 are not included in the FTE projection due to approval of 62 charter school applications after the FTE projection deadline. 63 In a further effort to facilitate an accurate budget projection, 64 within 15 calendar days after receipt of a charter school 65 application, a sponsor shall report to the Department of 66 Education the name of the applicant entity, the proposed charter 67 school location, and its projected FTE. 68 2. In order to ensure fiscal responsibility, an application 69 for a charter school shall include a full accounting of expected 70 assets, a projection of expected sources and amounts of income, 71 including income derived from projected student enrollments and 72 from community support, and an expense projection that includes 73 full accounting of the costs of operation, including start-up 74 costs. 75 3.a. A sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or deny an 76 application no later than 60 calendar days after the application 77 is received, unless the sponsor and the applicant mutually agree 78 in writing to temporarily postpone the vote to a specific date, 79 at which time the sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or 80 deny the application. If the sponsor fails to act on the 81 application, an applicant may appeal to the State Board of 82 Education as provided in paragraph (c). If an application is 83 denied, the sponsor shall, within 10 calendar days after such 84 denial, articulate in writing the specific reasons, based upon 85 good cause, supporting its denial of the charter application and 86 shall provide the letter of denial and supporting documentation 87 to the applicant and to the Department of Education. 88 b. An application submitted by a high-performing charter 89 school identified pursuant to s. 1002.331 may be denied by the 90 sponsor only if the sponsor demonstrates by clear and convincing 91 evidence that: 92 (I) The application does not materially comply with the 93 requirements in paragraph (a); 94 (II) The charter school proposed in the application does 95 not materially comply with the requirements in paragraphs 96 (9)(a)-(f); 97 (III) The proposed charter school’s educational program 98 does not substantially replicate that of the applicant or one of 99 the applicant’s high-performing charter schools; 100 (IV) The applicant has made a material misrepresentation or 101 false statement or concealed an essential or material fact 102 during the application process; or 103 (V) The proposed charter school’s educational program and 104 financial management practices do not materially comply with the 105 requirements of this section. 106 107 Material noncompliance is a failure to follow requirements or a 108 violation of prohibitions applicable to charter school 109 applications, which failure is quantitatively or qualitatively 110 significant either individually or when aggregated with other 111 noncompliance. An applicant is considered to be replicating a 112 high-performing charter school if the proposed school is 113 substantially similar to at least one of the applicant’s high 114 performing charter schools and the organization or individuals 115 involved in the establishment and operation of the proposed 116 school are significantly involved in the operation of replicated 117 schools. 118 c. If the sponsor denies an application submitted by a 119 high-performing charter school, the sponsor must, within 10 120 calendar days after such denial, state in writing the specific 121 reasons, based upon the criteria in sub-subparagraph b., 122 supporting its denial of the application and must provide the 123 letter of denial and supporting documentation to the applicant 124 and to the Department of Education. The applicant may appeal the 125 sponsor’s denial of the application directly to the State Board 126 of Education pursuant to sub-subparagraph (c)3.b. 127 4. For budget projection purposes, the sponsor shall report 128 to the Department of Education the approval or denial of a 129 charter application within 10 calendar days after such approval 130 or denial. In the event of approval, the report to the 131 Department of Education shall include the final projected FTE 132 for the approved charter school. 133 5. Upon approval of a charter application, the initial 134 startup shall commence with the beginning of the public school 135 calendar for the district in which the charter is granted unless 136 the sponsor allows a waiver of this subparagraph for good cause. 137 6. A person, or an officer of an entity, who submits an 138 application pursuant to this subsection must undergo background 139 screening in the same manner as instructional and 140 noninstructional personnel hired or contracted to fill positions 141 in a charter school or as members of the governing board of a 142 charter school undergo background screening under s. 1012.32. 143 Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, a person 144 may not receive approval of a charter application until the 145 person’s screening is completed and the results have been 146 submitted to the sponsor. 147 (g) A charter school applicant, after approval of an 148 application but before the first day of classes at the charter 149 school, must provide verified evidence that the school has been 150 accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 151 (7) CHARTER.—The major issues involving the operation of a 152 charter school shall be considered in advance and written into 153 the charter. The charter shall be signed by the governing board 154 of the charter school and the sponsor, following a public 155 hearing to ensure community input. 156 (a) The charter shall address and criteria for approval of 157 the charter shall be based on: 158 1. The school’s mission, the students to be served, and the 159 ages and grades to be included. 160 2. The focus of the curriculum, the instructional methods 161 to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques to be 162 employed, and identification and acquisition of appropriate 163 technologies needed to improve educational and administrative 164 performance which include a means for promoting safe, ethical, 165 and appropriate uses of technology which comply with legal and 166 professional standards. 167 a. The charter shall ensure that reading is a primary focus 168 of the curriculum and that resources are provided to identify 169 and provide specialized instruction for students who are reading 170 below grade level. The curriculum and instructional strategies 171 for reading must be consistent with the Next Generation Sunshine 172 State Standards and grounded in scientifically based reading 173 research. 174 b. In order to provide students with access to diverse 175 instructional delivery models, to facilitate the integration of 176 technology within traditional classroom instruction, and to 177 provide students with the skills they need to compete in the 178 21st century economy, the Legislature encourages instructional 179 methods for blended learning courses consisting of both 180 traditional classroom and online instructional techniques. 181 Charter schools may implement blended learning courses which 182 combine traditional classroom instruction and virtual 183 instruction. Students in a blended learning course must be full 184 time students of the charter school and receive the online 185 instruction in a classroom setting at the charter school. 186 Instructional personnel certified pursuant to s. 1012.55 who 187 provide virtual instruction for blended learning courses may be 188 employees of the charter school or may be under contract to 189 provide instructional services to charter school students. At a 190 minimum, such instructional personnel must hold an active state 191 or school district adjunct certification under s. 1012.57 for 192 the subject area of the blended learning course. The funding and 193 performance accountability requirements for blended learning 194 courses are the same as those for traditional courses. 195 3. The current incoming baseline standard of student 196 academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the 197 method of measurement that will be used. The criteria listed in 198 this subparagraph shall include a detailed description of: 199 a. How the baseline student academic achievement levels and 200 prior rates of academic progress will be established. 201 b. How these baseline rates will be compared to rates of 202 academic progress achieved by these same students while 203 attending the charter school. 204 c. To the extent possible, how these rates of progress will 205 be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other 206 closely comparable student populations. 207 208 The district school board is required to provide academic 209 student performance data to charter schools for each of their 210 students coming from the district school system, as well as 211 rates of academic progress of comparable student populations in 212 the district school system. 213 4. The methods used to identify the educational strengths 214 and needs of students and how well educational goals and 215 performance standards are met by students attending the charter 216 school. The methods shall provide a means for the charter school 217 to ensure accountability to its constituents by analyzing 218 student performance data and by evaluating the effectiveness and 219 efficiency of its major educational programs. Students in 220 charter schools shall, at a minimum, participate in the 221 statewide assessment program created under s. 1008.22. 222 5. In secondary charter schools, a method for determining 223 that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in 224 s. 1002.3105(5), s. 1003.4281, or s. 1003.4282. 225 6. A method for resolving conflicts between the governing 226 board of the charter school and the sponsor. 227 7. The admissions procedures and dismissal procedures, 228 including the school’s code of student conduct. 229 8. The ways by which the school will achieve a 230 racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or 231 within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the 232 same school district. 233 9. The financial and administrative management of the 234 school, including a reasonable demonstration of the professional 235 experience or competence of those individuals or organizations 236 applying to operate the charter school or those hired or 237 retained to perform such professional services and the 238 description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the 239 policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter 240 school. A description of internal audit procedures and 241 establishment of controls to ensure that financial resources are 242 properly managed must be included. Both public sector and 243 private sector professional experience shall be equally valid in 244 such a consideration. 245 10. The asset and liability projections required in the 246 application which are incorporated into the charter and shall be 247 compared with information provided in the annual report of the 248 charter school. 249 11. A description of procedures that identify various risks 250 and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the impact of 251 losses; plans to ensure the safety and security of students and 252 staff; plans to identify, minimize, and protect others from 253 violent or disruptive student behavior; and the manner in which 254 the school will be insured, including whether or not the school 255 will be required to have liability insurance, and, if so, the 256 terms and conditions thereof and the amounts of coverage. 257 12. The term of the charter which shall provide for 258 cancellation of the charter if insufficient progress has been 259 made in attaining the student achievement objectives of the 260 charter and if it is not likely that such objectives can be 261 achieved before expiration of the charter. The initial term of a 262 charter shall be for 4 or 5 years. In order to facilitate access 263 to long-term financial resources for charter school 264 construction, charter schools that are operated by a 265 municipality or other public entity as provided by law are 266 eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the 267 district school board. A charter lab school is eligible for a 268 charter for a term of up to 15 years. In addition, to facilitate 269 access to long-term financial resources for charter school 270 construction, charter schools that are operated by a private, 271 not-for-profit, s. 501(c)(3) status corporation are eligible for 272 up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the district 273 school board. Such long-term charters remain subject to annual 274 review and may be terminated during the term of the charter, but 275 only according to the provisions set forth in subsection (8). 276 13. The facilities to be used and their location. The 277 sponsor shall
may notrequire a charter school to have a 278 certificate of occupancy or a temporary certificate of occupancy 279 for such a facility no later than 60 earlier than 15calendar 280 days before the first day of school. 281 14. The qualifications to be required of the teachers and 282 the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and 283 retain qualified staff to achieve best value. 284 15. The governance structure of the school, including the 285 status of the charter school as a public or private employer as 286 required in paragraph (12)(i). 287 16. A timetable for implementing the charter which 288 addresses the implementation of each element thereof and the 289 date by which the charter shall be awarded in order to meet this 290 timetable. 291 17. In the case of an existing public school that is being 292 converted to charter status, alternative arrangements for 293 current students who choose not to attend the charter school and 294 for current teachers who choose not to teach in the charter 295 school after conversion in accordance with the existing 296 collective bargaining agreement or district school board rule in 297 the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. However, 298 alternative arrangements shall not be required for current 299 teachers who choose not to teach in a charter lab school, except 300 as authorized by the employment policies of the state university 301 which grants the charter to the lab school. 302 18. Full disclosure of the identity of all relatives 303 employed by the charter school who are related to the charter 304 school owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of 305 directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal, 306 assistant principal, or any other person employed by the charter 307 school who has equivalent decisionmaking authority. For the 308 purpose of this subparagraph, the term “relative” means father, 309 mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first 310 cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in 311 law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, 312 stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, 313 stepsister, half brother, or half sister. 314 19. Implementation of the activities authorized under s. 315 1002.331 by the charter school when it satisfies the eligibility 316 requirements for a high-performing charter school. A high 317 performing charter school shall notify its sponsor in writing by 318 March 1 if it intends to increase enrollment or expand grade 319 levels the following school year. The written notice shall 320 specify the amount of the enrollment increase and the grade 321 levels that will be added, as applicable. 322 20. Documentation of adequate financial resources to 323 support the operation of the charter school no later than 60 324 calendar days before the first day of school. Documentation may 325 include bank statements, financial statements, loan documents, 326 and any other business and financial records. 327 (17) FUNDING.—Students enrolled in a charter school, 328 regardless of the sponsorship, shall be funded as if they are in 329 a basic program or a special program, the same as students 330 enrolled in other public schools in the school district. Funding 331 for a charter lab school shall be as provided in s. 1002.32. 332 (c) If the district school board is providing programs or 333 services to students funded by federal funds, any eligible 334 students enrolled in charter schools in the school district 335 shall be provided federal funds for the same level of service 336 provided students in the schools operated by the district school 337 board. Pursuant to provisions of 20 U.S.C. 8061 s. 10306,All 338 charter schools shall receive all federal funding for which the 339 school is otherwise eligible, including Title I funding, no not340 later than 5 months after the charter school first opens and 341 within 5 months after any subsequent expansion of enrollment. 342 Unless otherwise mutually agreed to by the charter school and 343 its sponsor, and consistent with state and federal rules and 344 regulations governing the use and disbursement of federal funds, 345 the sponsor shall reimburse the charter school on a monthly 346 basis for all invoices submitted by the charter school for 347 federal funds available to the sponsor for the benefit of the 348 charter school, the charter school’s students, and the charter 349 school’s students as public school students in the school 350 district. Such federal funds include, but are not limited to, 351 Title I, Title II, and Individuals with Disabilities Education 352 Act (IDEA) funds. To receive timely reimbursement for an 353 invoice, the charter school must submit the invoice to the 354 sponsor at least 30 days before the monthly date of 355 reimbursement set by the sponsor. In order to be reimbursed, any 356 expenditures made by the charter school must comply with all 357 applicable state rules and federal regulations, including, but 358 not limited to, the applicable federal Office of Management and 359 Budget Circulars; United States Department of Education the360 federal Education DepartmentGeneral Administrative Regulations; 361 and program-specific statutes, rules, and regulations. Such 362 funds may not be made available to the charter school until a 363 plan is submitted to the sponsor for approval of the use of the 364 funds in accordance with applicable federal requirements. The 365 sponsor has 30 days to review and approve any plan submitted 366 pursuant to this paragraph. 367 Section 2. Paragraph (a) of subsection (3) of section 368 1002.331, Florida Statutes, is amended to read: 369 1002.331 High-performing charter schools.— 370 (3)(a) A high-performing charter school may submit an 371 application pursuant to s. 1002.33(6) in any school district in 372 the state to establish and operate a new charter school that 373 will substantially replicate its educational program. An 374 application submitted by a high-performing charter school must 375 state that the application is being submitted pursuant to this 376 paragraph and must include the verification letter provided by 377 the Commissioner of Education pursuant to subsection (5). If the 378 sponsor fails to act on the application within 60 days after 379 receipt, the application is deemed approved and the procedure in 380 s. 1002.33(6)(i) s. 1002.33(6)(h)applies. If the sponsor denies 381 the application, the high-performing charter school may appeal 382 pursuant to s. 1002.33(6). 383 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2015.