Utah Department of Administrative Services Division of Administrative Rules

File No. 32979

This rule was published in the October 1, 2009, issue (Vol. 2009, No. 19) of the Utah State Bulletin.


Education, Administration

Rule R277-470

Charter Schools

Notice of Proposed Rule

(Amendment)

DAR File No.: 32979
Filed: 09/15/2009 05:44:03 PM

RULE ANALYSIS

Purpose of the rule or reason for the change:

This rule is amended to provide changes to definitions, provide language that requires all charter schools be accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS), and require charter schools to be charter schools to be consistent with their charters.

Summary of the rule or change:

The amended rule changes definitions, removes language on parental involvement, adds language that requires charter schools to be accredited, and provides clarification about time lines.

State statutory or constitutional authorization for this rule:

  • Section 53A-1a-513
  • Subsection 53A-1-401(3)

Anticipated cost or savings to:

the state budget:

There are no anticipated costs or savings to the state budget for the procedural changes to the rule. Costs associated with accreditation will be incurred by charter schools.

local governments:

There will be a cost to each charter school that is not currently accredited in the amount of a $100 registration fee, plus a yearly fee of $350 for each elementary charter school, $450 for each secondary charter school, and $0.17 per student paid to NAAS as a result of this new requirement. Approximately 20 charter schools are currently not accredited. There are no anticipated costs or savings associated with other procedural changes in the rule.

small businesses:

There are no anticipated costs or savings to small businesses. The change related to public charter schools and not to businesses.

persons other than small businesses, businesses, or local governmental entities:

There are no anticipated costs or savings to persons other than small businesses, businesses, or local government entities. The changes are procedural and relate to charter schools and do not require anything of individuals.

Compliance costs for affected persons:

Charter schools not currently accredited will need to become accredited. There will be a cost to each charter school that is not currently accredited in the amount of $100 registration fee, plus a yearly fee of $350 for each elementary charter school, $450 for each secondary charter school, and $0.17 per student paid to NAAS as a result of this new requirement.

Comments by the department head on the fiscal impact the rule may have on businesses:

I have reviewed this rule and I see no fiscal impact on businesses.

Larry K. Shumway, State Superintendent

The full text of this rule may be inspected, during regular business hours, at the Division of Administrative Rules, or at:

Education
Administration
250 E 500 S
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84111-3272

Direct questions regarding this rule to:

  • Carol Lear at the above address, by phone at 801-538-7835, by FAX at 801-538-7768, or by Internet E-mail at carol.lear@schools.utah.gov

Interested persons may present their views on this rule by submitting written comments to the address above no later than 5:00 p.m. on:

11/02/2009

This rule may become effective on:

11/09/2009

Authorized by:

Carol Lear, Director, School Law and Legislation

RULE TEXT

R277. Education, Administration.

R277-470. Charter Schools.

R277-470-1. Definitions.

A. "Board" means the Utah State Board of Education.

B. "Charter schools" means schools acknowledged as charter schools by local boards of education under Section 53A-1a-515 and this rule or by the Board under Section 53A-1a-505.

C. "Charter school application" means the official chartering document by which a prospective charter school seeks recognition and funding under Section 53A-1a-505. The application includes the basic elements of the charter to be established between the charter school and the chartering board.

D. "Charter school deficiencies" means the following information:

(1) a charter school is not satisfying financial obligations as required by Section 53A-1a-505 in the charter school's written contractual agreement;

(2) a charter school is not providing required documentation following reasonable warning;

(3) compelling evidence of fraud or misuse of funds by charter school governing board members or employees.

E. "Charter school founding member" or "founding member" means an individual who had a significant role in the initial development of the charter school up until the first instructional day of school, the first year of operation, as submitted in writing to the State Charter School Board the first day of operation.

F. "Charter school governing board" means the board designated by the charter school to make decisions for the operation of the school similar to a local board of education.

G. "Days" means calendar days, unless specifically designated.

H. "Expansion" means a proposed ten percent increase of students or grade level(s) in an operating charter school at a single location.

I. "Local education agency (LEA)" means a local board of education, combination of school districts, other legally constituted local school authority having administrative control and direction of free public education within the state, or other entities as designated by the Board, and includes any entity with state-wide responsibility for directly operating and maintaining facilities for providing public education.

J. " Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS ) accreditation" means the formal process for evaluation and approval under the Standards for Accreditation of the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools or the accreditation standards of the Board, available from the Utah State Office of Education Accreditation Specialist. Accreditation ensures that the credits/diploma a student earns is the result of a quality educational experience. The purpose of accreditation is to ensure excellence in education by holding schools accountable to rigorous standards and a process of continued improvement.

K. "Neighborhood or traditional school" for purposes of this rule, means a public, non-charter school.

L. "New charter school" as provided in Section 53A-21-401(5)(d) means any charter school through the first day of its second year with students, or a satellite school that requires a new location/campus.

M. "No Child Left Behind (NCLB)" means the federal law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title IX, Part A, 20 U.S.C. 7801.

N. "On-going funds" means funds that are appropriated annually by the Legislature with the expectation that the funds shall continue to be appropriated annually.

O. "Satellite school" means a charter school affiliated with an operating charter school having a common governing board and a similar program of instruction, but located at a different site or in a different geographical area. The parent school and all satellites shall be considered a single local education agency (LEA) for purposes of public school funding and reporting.

P. "State Charter School Board" means the board designated in Section 53A-1a-501.5.

Q. "Subaccount" means the Charter School Building Subaccount consisting of funds provided under 53A-21-401(5)(b).

R. "Subaccount Committee" means the committee established by the Superintendent under Section 53A-21-401(6).

S. "Superintendent" means the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as designated under 53A-1-301.

T. "Urgent facility need" as provided in Section 53A-21-401(5)(d) means an unexpected exigency that affects the health and safety of students such as:

(1) to satisfy an unforeseen condition that precludes a school's qualification for an occupancy permit; or

(2) to address an unforeseen circumstance that keeps the school from satisfying provisions of public safety, public health or public school code.

U. "USOE" means the Utah State Office of Education.

V. "Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU)" means the unit of measure that is computed in accordance with the Minimum School Program Act for the purpose of distributing revenue on a uniform basis for each pupil.


R277-470-2. Authority and Purpose.

A. This rule is authorized under Utah Constitution Article X, Section 3 which vests general control and supervision over public education in the Board, Section 53A-1a-513 which directs the Board to distribute funds for charter school students directly to the charter school, Section 53A-1-401(3) which allows the Board to adopt rules in accordance with its responsibilities, and 20 U.S.C., Section 8063(3) which directs the Board to submit specific information prior to charter schools' receipt of federal funds.

B. The purpose of this rule is to establish procedures for authorizing, funding, and monitoring charter schools and for repealing charter school authorizations. The rule also establishes timelines as required by law to provide for adequate training for beginning charter schools[and to ensure parent involvement on charter school boards].


R277-470-4. Charter School Orientation and Training.

A. Beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, all charter school applicants shall attend orientation/training sessions designated by the State Charter School Board.

B. Orientation meetings shall be scheduled at least quarterly and be[held regionally or be] available electronically, as determined by the State Charter School Board.

C. Charter schools and applicants that attend orientation/training sessions shall be eligible for additional funds, upon approval, in an amount to be determined by the State Charter School Board provided through federal charter school funds or a General Fund appropriation to the extent of funds available. Charter school applicants that attend training and orientation sessions may receive priority for approval from the State Charter School Board and the Board.

D. Orientation/training sessions shall provide information including:

(1) charter school implementation requirements;

(2) charter school statutory and Board requirements;

(3) charter school financial and data management requirements;

(4) charter school legal requirements;

(5) federal requirements for charter school funding; and

(6) other items as determined by the State Charter School Board.


R277-470-5. New or Expanding Charter School Notification to Prospective Students and Parents.

A. All charter schools opening or expanding by at least ten percent of overall enrollment or adding one or more grade levels after July 1, 2007 shall notify all families consistent with the schools' outreach plans described in the charter agreements of:

(1) a new or expanding charter school's purpose, focus and governance structure, including names , qualifications, and contact information of governing board members;

(2) the number of new students that will be admitted into the school by grade;

(3) the proposed school calendar for the charter school including at a minimum the first and last days of school, scheduled holidays, pre-scheduled professional development days (no student attendance), and other scheduled non-school days;

(4) the charter school's timelines for acceptance or rejection of new students consistent with Section 53A-1a-506.5;

(5) a State-approved student charter school application (beginning with the 2008-09 school year);

(6) procedures for transferring to or from a charter school, together with applicable timelines; and

(7) provide for payment, if required, of a one-time fee per secondary school enrollment, not to exceed $5.00, consistent with Section 53A-12-103.

B. [Beginning with charter schools that are opening or expanding for the 2007-08 school year, c]Charter schools shall provide written notice of the information in R277-470-5A consistent with the school's outreach plan and at least [150]180 days before the proposed opening day of school[beginning with the 2008-09 school year; or].

C. [Beginning with charter schools that are opening or expanding for the 2007-08 school year, c]Charter schools shall have an operative and readily accessible electronic website providing information required under R277-470-5A in place[, and for schools opening after the 2007-08 school year at least 150 days before the proposed first day of school]. The completed charter school website shall be provided to the State Charter School Board at least [170]180 days prior to the proposed opening day of school. The State Charter School Board shall require new charter schools to have websites that may be reviewed by the State Charter School Board prior to the schools posting the websites publicly.


R277-470-7. Timelines - Charter School Starting Date.

A. The State Charter School Board shall accept a proposed starting date from a charter school applicant, or the State Charter School Board shall negotiate and recommend a starting date prior to recommending final charter approval to the Board.

B. A local or state-chartered school shall be approved by November 30, two years prior to the school year it intends to serve students in order to be eligible for state funds.

C. A local or state-chartered school shall acquire a facility and enter into a written agreement, or begin construction on a new or existing facility no later than January 1 of the year the school is scheduled to open. Each state-chartered school shall submit any lease, lease-purchase agreement, or other contract or agreement relating to the charter school's facilities or financing the charter school facilities to its chartering entity for review and advice prior to the charter school entering into the lease, agreement, or contract, consistent with Section 53A-1a-507(9).

D. If students are not enrolled and attending classes by October 1, a charter school shall not receive funding from the state for that school year.

E. Despite a charter school meeting starting dates, a charter school shall be required to satisfy R277-419 requirements of 180 days and 990 hours of instruction time, unless otherwise exempted by the Board under 53A-1a-511.

F. The Board may, following review of information, approve the recommended starting date or determine a different charter school starting date after giving consideration to the State Charter School Board recommendation.


R277-470-10. Procedures and Timelines for Schools Chartered by Local Boards to Convert to Board-Chartered Schools.

A. A charter school chartered initially by a local board of education shall notify the local board that it will seek Board approval for a state conversion to its charter with adequate notice for the local board to make staffing decisions.

B. A locally chartered school shall operate successfully for at least nine months prior to applying for conversion to a Board chartered school[, consistent with R277-470-4].

C. A charter school shall submit an application to convert from a locally chartered school to a Board chartered school to the State Charter School Board; the State Charter School Board shall provide an application for schools seeking to convert.

D. The application may require some or all of the following, depending upon the school's longevity, successful operation and existing documentation at the USOE:

(1) current board members and founding members;

(2) audit and financial records:

(a) record of state payments received;

(b) record of contributions received by the school from inception to date;

(c) test scores, including calendar of testing;

(d) current employees: identifying assignments and licensing status, if applicable;

(e) student lists, including home addresses or uniform student identifiers for current students;

(f) school calendar for previous school year and prospective school year;

(g) course offerings, if applicable;

(h) affidavits, signed by all board members providing or certifying (documentation may be required):

(i) the school's nondiscrimination toward students and employees;

(ii) the school's compliance with all state and federal laws;

(iii) that all information on application provided is complete and accurate;

(iv) that school meets/complies with all health and safety codes/laws;

(v) that the school is current with all required policies (personnel, salaries, and fees), including board minutes for the most recent three months;

(vi) that the school is operating consistent with the school's charter;

(vii) the school's Annual Yearly Progress status under No Child Left Behind;

(viii) that there are no outstanding lawsuits or judgments or identifying outstanding lawsuits filed or judgments against the school;

(ix) that the previous local board of education supports or does not support conversion;

E. Applications for conversion from locally chartered to Board chartered shall be considered by the State Charter School Board within 60 days of submission of complete applications, including all required documentation.

F. Following approval by the State Charter School Board, proposals of charter schools seeking conversion approval shall be submitted to the Board for review.

G. If an applicant is not accepted for conversion, the State Charter School Board shall provide adequate information for the charter school to review and revise its proposal and reapply no sooner than nine months from the previous conversion application.

H. The Board shall consider the conversion application within 45 days of State Charter School Board approval, or next possible monthly Board meeting, whichever is sooner.

I. Final approval or denial of conversion is final administrative action by the Board.


R277-470-12. Charter School Parental Involvement.

A. Charter schools shall encourage and provide opportunities for parental involvement in management decisions at the school level[maintain active involvement of parents of current charter school students.]

B. Charter schools that [apply for]elect to receive School LAND Trust funds shall have a committee consisting of a majority of parents elected from parents of students currently attending the charter school [on the committee]that is designated to make decisions about the School LAND Trust funds consistent with R277-477-3[D]E.


R277-470-13. Charter School Oversight and Monitoring.

A. The State Charter School Board shall provide direct oversight to the state's board chartered schools, including:

(1) requiring that all charter schools shall be members of and accredited by NAAS;[(1) creation of an accountability review process which shall include:

(a) approval of first year charter school accountability plans which may consist of:

(i) revised charter effectiveness goals or accountability plan for elementary schools; or

(ii) revised charter effectiveness goals or accountability plan and official application for NAAS accreditation.

(b) visit to charter school at least once during its first year of operation;

(c) visit(s) to charter school as determined in the review process; and

(d) written reports to charter schools after each visit.]

(2) annual review of student achievement indicators for all schools, disaggregated for various student subgroups;

(3) quarterly review of summary financial records and disbursements and student enrollment;

(4) annual review conducted through site visits or random audits of personnel matters such as employee licensure and evaluations;[

(5) review and approval of first year charter school accountability plans, which may be the charter effectiveness goals or official application for NAAS accreditation;]

([6]5) regular review of other matters specific to effective charter school operations as determined by the USOE charter school staff; and

([7]6) audits and investigations of claims of fraud or misuse of public assets or funds ; and

(7) requiring that charter schools are in compliance with their charter agreement, as maintained by the USOE. It is presumed that the charter agreement maintained by the USOE is the final, official and complete agreement.

B. The Board retains the right to review or repeal charter school authorization based upon factors that may include:

(1) financial deficiencies or irregularities; or

(2) persistently low student achievement inconsistent with comparable schools; or

(3) failure of the charter school to comply with state law, Board rules, or directives; or

(4) failure to comply with currently approved charter commitments.

C. All charter schools shall amend their charters to include the following statement:

To the extent that any charter school's charter conflicts with applicable federal or state law or rule, the charter shall be interpreted and enforced to comply with such law or rule and all other provisions of the charter school shall remain in full force and effect.

D. District charter school authorizers shall:

(1) visit a charter school at least once during its first year of operation;

(2) visit a charter school as determined in the review process; and

(3) provide written reports to the charter schools after the visits.


R277-470-14. Approved Charter School Expansion.

A. The following shall apply to requests for expansion for approved and operating charter schools:

(1) The school satisfies all requirements of state law and Board rule.

(2) The approved Charter Agreement shall provide for an expansion consistent with the request; or

(3) The charter school governing board has submitted a formal amendment request to the State Charter School Board that provides documentation that:

(a) the school district in which the charter school is located has been notified of the proposed expansion in the same manner as required in Section 53A-1s-505(1);

(b) the school can accommodate the expansion within existing facilities or that necessary structures will be completed, meeting all requirements of law and Board rule, by the proposed date of operation;

(c) the school currently satisfies all requirements of state law and Board rule including adequate insurance, adequate parental involvement, compliance with all fiscal requirements, and adequate services for all special education students at the school;

(d) students at the school are performing on standardized assessments at an acceptable level with stable scores or scores showing an upward trend;

(e) adequate qualified administrators and staff shall be available to meet the needs of the increased number of students at the time the expansion is implemented.

B. The charter school governing board shall file a request with the State Charter School Board for an expansion no later than April 1 two years prior to the date of the proposed implementation of the expansion.

C. Expansion requests shall be considered by the State Charter School Board as part of the total number of charter school students allowed under 53A-1a-502.5(1).


R277-470-15. Satellite School for Approved Charter Schools.

A. An existing charter school may submit an amendment request to the State Charter School Board for a satellite school no later than April 1 two years prior to the date of the proposed implementation of the satellite if the charter school fully satisfies the following:

(1) The school currently satisfies all requirements of state law and Board rule including adequate insurance, adequate parental involvement, compliance with all fiscal requirements, and adequate services for all special education students at the school;

(2) The school has operated successfully for at least three years;

(3) Students at the school are performing on standardized assessments at an acceptable level with stable scores or scores showing an upward trend;

(4) The proposed satellite school will provide educational services, assessment, and curriculum consistent with the services, assessment, and curriculum currently being offered at the existing charter school;

(5) The school shall be financially stable; there have been no repeat findings of deficiencies on required outside audits for at least two consecutive years;

(6) Adequate qualified administrators, including at least one onsite administrator, and staff are available to meet the needs of the proposed student population at the satellite site school;

(7) The school has had an audit by Charter School Section staff regarding performance of the current charter agreement, contractual agreements, and financial records; and

(8) The school provides any additional information or documentation requested by the Charter School Section staff or the Board.

(9) A satellite school that receives School LAND Trust funds shall have a School LAND Trust committee and satisfy all requirements for School LAND Trust committees consistent with R277-477.

B. The satellite school amendment request shall include the following:

(1) Written certification from the charter school governing board that the charter school currently satisfies all requirements of state law and Board rule;

(2) A detailed explanation of the governance structure for the satellite school, including appointed, elected and parent representation on the governing board, parental involvement and professional staff involvement in implementing the educational plan. The applicant charter school shall include at least two voting parent members representing the parents of students at the satellite school on its governing board; at least one parent shall be elected by parents of students attending the satellite school;

(3) Information detailing the grades to be served, the number of students to be served and general information regarding the physical facilities anticipated to serve the school;

(4) A detailed financial plan for the satellite school;

(5) A signed acknowledgment by the charter school governing board certifying board members' understanding that a physical site for the building must be secured no later than January 1 of the year the satellite school is scheduled to open;

(a) the securing of the building site must be verified by a real estate closing document, signed lease agreement, or other contract indicating a right of occupancy pursuant to R277-470-7C;

(b) failure to secure a site by the required date may, at the discretion of the State Charter School Board, delay the opening of the satellite school for at least one academic year.

(6) Notification to both the school district in which the charter school is located and the school district of the proposed satellite school location in the same manner as required in Section 53A-1a-505(1);

(7) Written certification that no later than 15 days after securing a building site, the charter school governing board shall notify the school district in which the charter school satellite school is located of the school location, grades served, and anticipated enrollment by grade with a copy of the notification sent to the State Charter School Board; and

(8) A signed acknowledgment by the charter school governing board that the board understands the satellite school shall be held accountable for its own AYP report and disaggregated financial data and reports.

C. The approval of the satellite school by the State Charter School Board requires ratification by the State Board of Education and will expire 24 months following such ratification if a building site has not been secured for the satellite school.

D. A charter school may not apply for more than three satellite locations.


R277-470-17. Charter School Building Subaccount.

A. The Board shall establish or reauthorize a Subaccount Committee consistent with 53A-21-401(6) by July 15 annually.

(1) The Superintendent, on behalf of the Board, may annually accept nominations of individuals who meet the qualifications of 53A-21-401(6)(a) from interested parties, including individuals nominating themselves, before June 1. The Board shall appoint five Subaccount Committee members; the Committee shall consider the Governor's nomination as one of the five appointees and the State Charter School Board's nomination as one of the five appointees.

(2) Per Section 53A-21-401(6)(a), the governor shall nominate one individual who meets the qualifications of 53A-21-401(6)(a) before the Board appoints Committee members.

(3) The State Charter School Board shall nominate one individual who meets the qualifications of Section 53A-21-401(6)(a) before June 1 consistent with R277-470-17A(1).

([3]4) Subaccount Committee members shall be appointed by the Board to terms that do not exceed three years.

(a) In order to stagger terms, terms of appointed Committee members shall be determined by the Board, upon the effective date of this rule.

(b) Future Committee members shall serve three year terms.

(c) The USOE Charter School Director or designee shall be a non-voting Subaccount Committee member.

B. The Subaccount Committee shall develop and the USOE shall make available a loan application that includes criteria designated under Sections 53A-21-401(6)(b) and (8).

C. The Subaccount Committee shall include other criteria or information from loan applicants that the committee or the Board determines to be necessary and helpful in making final recommendations to the Superintendent, the State Charter School Board and the Board. The Subaccount Committee shall also establish terms and conditions for loan repayment , consistent with Section 53A-21-401(6)(b).

D. Applications for loans shall be accepted on an ongoing basis, subject to eligibility criteria and availability of funding.

(1) To apply for a loan, a charter school shall submit the information requested on the Board's most current loan application form together with the requested supporting documentation.

(2) The application shall include a resolution from the governing board of the charter school that the governing board, at a minimum:

(a) agrees to enter into the loan as provided in the application materials;

(b) agrees to the interest established by the Subaccount Committee and repayment schedule of the loan designated by the Subaccount Committee and the Board;

(c) agrees that loan funds shall only be used consistent with the purposes of Section 53A-21-401(5)(c) and the purpose of the approved charter;

(d) agrees to any and all audits or financial reviews ordered by the Subaccount Committee or the Board;

(e) agrees to any and all inspections or reviews ordered by the Subaccount Committee or the Board;

(f) understands that repayment, including interest, shall be deducted automatically from the charter school's monthly fund transfers, as appropriate.

E. The Subaccount Committee shall not make recommendations to the Superintendent, the State Charter School Board or the Board until the committee receives complete and satisfactory information from the applicant and the Subaccount Committee has reached a majority recommendation.

F. The submission of intentionally false, incomplete or inaccurate information from a loan applicant shall result in immediate cancellation of any previous loan(s), the requirement for immediate repayment of any funds received, denial of subsequent applications for a 12 month period from the date of the initial application, and possible Board revocation of a charter.

G. The Superintendent, in consultation with USOE and State Charter Board staff, shall review recommendations from the Subaccount Committee and make final recommendations to the Board.

H. The Superintendent shall submit final recommendations from the Subaccount Committee to the Board no more than 60 days after submission of all information and materials from the loan applicant to the Subaccount Committee.

I. The Board may request additional information from loan applicants or a reconsideration of a recommendation by the Subaccount Committee.

J. The Board's approval or denial of loan applications constitutes the final administrative action in the charter school building revolving loan process.


KEY: education, charter schools

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment: [ May 12, ]2009

Notice of Continuation: October 10, 2008

Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted Law: Art X, Sec 3; 53A-1a-515; 53A-1a-505; 53A-1a-513; 53A-1a-502; 53A-1-401(3); 53A-1a-510; 53A-1a-509; 41-6-115; 53A-1a-506; 53A-21-401; 53A-1a-519; 53A-1a-520 ; 53A-1a-501.5; 53A-1-301; 53A-1a-502.5; 53A-1a-506.5; 53A-12-103; 53A-11-504; 53A-11-903; 53A-11-904; 53A-1a-511; 53A-1-302 and 303; 53A-17a;109; 53-8-211; 62A-4a-403; 53A-11-605



Additional Information

The Portable Document Format (PDF) version of the Bulletin is the official version. The PDF version of this issue is available at http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/bull-pdf/2009/b20091001.pdf. The HTML edition of the Bulletin is a convenience copy. Any discrepancy between the PDF version and HTML version is resolved in favor of the PDF version.

Text to be deleted is struck through and surrounded by brackets (e.g., [example]). Text to be added is underlined (e.g., example).  Older browsers may not depict some or any of these attributes on the screen or when the document is printed.

For questions regarding the content or application of this rule, please contact Carol Lear at the above address, by phone at 801-538-7835, by FAX at 801-538-7768, or by Internet E-mail at carol.lear@schools.utah.gov.