Legislative Updates

May 29, 2013

Budget Bill Update by Stephanie Klupinski

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate unveiled its substitute budget.  But the changes we’ve been holding our breath for—the changes to the school funding formula—were not included.  They will appear next week in an omnibus amendment.  In the meantime, OAPCS is re-iterating the message we’ve been saying all year: Public charters schools can do more with less, but that less must be enough, and right now, public charter schools are not getting enough.  We need more money in the foundation formula and more money for facilities.

Still, the substitute bill did have some noteworthy changes, including many that OAPCS advocated for. The bill fixes the automatic closure problem created by HB 555, so that now, for schools serving grades four through eight, they will face automatic closure if, for two out of three years, they were in a state of academic emergency and showed less than one year of academic growth in reading or math.

For a list of all the changes, go here.

 

Here is quick list of other changes affecting charters.  Feel free to contact Stephanie at sklupinski@oapcs.org if you have any questions.  Also, we encourage you to contact your state senator and tell him or her that charters need fair funding.

 You can find the contact info here

Sponsors’ initial contracts with ODE can increase up to seven years

ODE must add a year to each sponsor agreement for every  year the sponsor is either not in    bottom 20 percent or is rated Effective or Excellent (after January 1, 2015)

E-schools are exempted from P.E. requirement

Changes to career tech (ensures that charter schools are in a CTPD) 

Physical ed teachers hired at charters after July 1, 2013 need a valid license

Prescribes that student academic growth factors must account for at least 35 percent of each evaluation, though it can account for up to 50 percent

Reinstates automatic payments to ESCs 

Exempts charters primarily serving students with disabilities from the requirement that each teacher of a core subject area must take all written context exams if the school is ranked in the lowest 10 percent of buildings

 

May 24, 2013

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ Statement on House Bill 167 and the Intentions of Mayor Coleman’s Education Commission

By Stefanie Klupinski

 

The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools supports Mayor Coleman and the Columbus Education Commission’s efforts to provide good school choices for Columbus City students.  The commission has developed a comprehensive plan that will help ensure that children in Columbus have the chance to attend a good school.

The Ohio Alliance is pleased that the Columbus Plan recognizes the value of charter schools, and we are encouraged that HB 167 would provide an opportunity for the district to share local tax dollars with charter schools.  

 Columbus City is taking care of business, doing what Columbus City needs to do to enhance school choice and performance, but rather than having the proliferation of individual city-by-city plans deciding to share local levy dollars, we need to change state law so that all charters have equitable access to all sources of state, local, and federal revenue. All charters should be eligible for local tax dollars. Parents who pay their fair share of school property taxes ought to see those dollars go to the public education of their children.

 While HB 167 does not subject charters to an Independent Auditor, we are concerned that it may be a condition of “partnering” with the Columbus schools. This is unnecessarily redundant and an encroachment that violates the autonomy inherent in the charter movement. Further, charter schools have not been a part of the recent performance/attendance scandals precisely because they are required to report enrollment each and every month for payment and because they are financially audited independently every year. This would not be a condition for partnering that we would support.

Finally, a note of caution to the mayor and the commission with regards to the the mayor’s interest in becoming a sponsor.  Quality authorizing is hard work and experience is a master teacher. Quality authorizing is fundamental to quality charter school outcomes.  Ohio is fortunate to have more types of sponsors than almost any other state, and there are already many excellent sponsors in Ohio.  We encourage the Mayor and the Columbus Education Commission to consider current quality authorizers before taking the leap into that domain of responsibility.

 
 

May 3, 2013

 

Legislative Update—OAPCS Testifies Before Senate Education Finance Subcommittee 

 One of our charter stakeholders recently made an interesting observation.  Usually, when a budget bill passes out of the House, it’s halftime in the budget process.  But this year, with all the high-profile debates regarding Medicaid and the expansion of sales tax, it was more like the end of the first quarter.

 Now, the second quarter is underway.  The budget bill is in the Senate, and OAPCS and other charter stakeholders testified before the Senate Education Finance Subcommittee yesterday afternoon.  

 OAPCS President Bill Sims commended the changes the House made to budget bill but stressed that there is still a funding gap between charter and traditional students.  He offered these suggestions for improvement to the bill:

 • Make sure charter students receive 100 percent of the targeted assistance funds. Targeted assistance provides additional funds for districts based on family income and local property valuation.  Charter students deserve the full percentage—not 25 percent, as is in the current bill language.

Expand the progress the budget bill has begun with improving charter access to facilities. The bill provides $100 per pupil for facilities, which is a good start, but which is still not enough.  Also, the state should allow charters to access funds through the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission and should have an easier path to tax-exempt bond financing.

Don’t withhold funds from charter students who admitted early kindergarteners last year.  Last August, ODE informed schools that the new changes to early kindergarten admission wouldn’t go into effect until 2013-14, and schools shouldn’t be penalized for relying on this information to enroll students.

Allow charter students access to extracurricular activities in their resident district, if their school does not offer that extracurricular.

Give charter students access to all career tech programs within their Career Tech Planning District. 

 A variety of e-school stakeholders, including OAPCS board member and Connections Academy employee Susan Stagner, also testified on the benefits of public virtual charter schools and the need for additional funding.  Dave Cash, the president of the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers, emphasized many of the concerns OAPCS had, and also brought attention to a correction needed from a bill passed last year regarding automatic closure.

 To read Bill Sims’ full testimony—and the testimony of others—go here and click on May 2, 2013. 

 April 19, 2013

Late last night, the House passed HB 59, the budget bill.  A few last minute changes were made.  Notably, the amendment that would have banned teachers from teaching about “gateway sexual activity” was removed.  

Also, the $10 million in funds to strengthen broadband capacity for schools remains, but the bill removed the requirement that the funds be tied to the requirements of new online tests developed in for PARCC assessments.   

The bill will now move to the Senate.

You can read a summary of the bill as passed, compared to how it looked when it was introduced by the Governor, here.

OAPCS has reported on the changes made to the budget bill as it has made its way through the House, but here is a recap of the funding proposals.

Funding

All charters will receive base amount of $5732 in FY2014 and $5789 in FY 2013

All charters also receive special ed funding according to category weights

All charters receive career-tech funds

Brick and mortar charters also receive some targeted assistance (0.25 of what resident district receives), LEP funds, economically disadvantaged funds ($340 per pupil in FY 2014 and $343 in FY 2015), and early childhood access funds ($300 per pupil in FY 2013 and $303 in FY 2015)

Brick and mortar charters will also receive $100 per pupil facilities allowance

Keeps the Governor’s Straight A Budget, but reduces total appropriations from $300 million to $100 million

 

April 17, 2013

 

 The budget bill, HB 59, is expected to be voted out of the House tomorrow.  It will then move to the Senate.  Yesterday, the House Finance Committee voted the bill out by a 20-9 vote.

The House version included significant changes to the school funding formula, most notably by increasing the base amount to $5,732.

 Attached please find a spreadsheet comparing what charter schools would have received under the executive budget to what they would receive under the House’s version.

 

See spreadsheet here

 

April 12, 2013

 

Legislative Update—House Makes Changes to School Funding
 

The Ohio House released its own version of the budget on Tuesday, which included some major changes to the school funding plan.  

 Under the House’s proposal, all public charter schools will be funded at a base amount of $5,732 next year, increasing to $5,789 the following year, along with additional aid for special education.  Under the governor’s plan, charter school funding began with a base amount of only $5,000.  OAPCS and other charter stakeholders advocated for this increase, and we are pleased that our voices have been heard.

 Brick and mortar charters will also additional funding for targeted assistance, economically disadvantaged, Limited English Proficiency, and career-technical funds.  

 While charter school spreadsheets for the new plan have not been released, the House has suggested that all but 46 charter schools will see increases under the plan.   

OAPCS President Bill Sims testified before the House Finance committee earlier today, expressing support for the plan but requesting that charter students receive 100 percent of the targeted assistance funds.  A copy of his testimony is attached. 

 For a comparison of the Governor and House versions, please see http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/fiscal/comparedoc130/housefinance/edu.pdf

 See testimony here

 

March 7, 2013

  

Today, the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education heard testimony about the governor’s budget—House Bill 59—and its impact on charter schools.

 The day began with testimony from the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education, and the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers.  OAPCS’ full testimony is attached.

 All three organizations stressed our concern that some charter schools will receive less funding under the proposed budget, and that, while $100 per pupil for facilities for charter students is a step in the right direction, it is nowhere near enough.  Charter schools have still not received spreadsheets from the governor’s office, making it impossible for us to say with certainty how the proposal will impact individual schools.  But we do know that some schools, particularly e-schools and those that draw students from many different districts, will be particularly hit by the proposal.

 The rest of the day featured testimony from a diverse group of charter stakeholders.  They came from all over the state and showcased all different types of charter schools—dropout recovery, special needs, gifted, and more.  And they all stressed how challenging Ohio’s funding system is for them to best serve their students.

 Soon, we will be submitting amendments to the committee to seek changes to the bill.  Also, next week, the Subcommittee will hear general testimony on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  If you are interested in testifying, please contact Stpehanie Klupinski (sklupinski@oapcs.org) for more information.

  Here are some highlights from testimony given throughout the day.  You can read OAPCS’ full testimony at http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/primary-and-secondary-education-subco….

 Chad Carr, School Leader, Columbus Preparatory Academy (CPA)

 “CPA has taken advantage of ARRA, Ed Jobs, and Race to the Top grants to stay afloat, but it is still not enough. Looking at comparable districts in the area, CPA has done more with less. If you compare CPA to Dublin School district, CPA outscored Dublin on the performance index score (111 to 107). If you look at our respective operating budgets, you will see the huge differences in funds available.”

 Cathy Whitehouse, Co-founder, Intergenerational Schools

 “Our school is helping to attract residents into Cleveland for their child’s education. Our schools are keeping residents in Cleveland who would otherwise leave the city. The new funding formula should not be detrimental to schools proven to be successful. Regardless of the zip code of the student, it is important for each student to receive at least the same base amount of funding as they would have in current law.” 

Joseph Baszynski, Director of Operations, United Schools Network

 “We firmly believe that community schools and districts should be treated equally under the law when it comes to developing school programs and ensuring basic transportation services to our students.  The continued success of many community school programs including those of USN relies heavily on our ability to develop and execute an aggressive academic schedule.”

 Paige Baublitz-Watkins, Director, Menlo Park Academy

 “If funding is based on the demographics of students’ home districts, schools that draw their enrollment from a broad base will be crippled. To ask schools of choice to create innovative curriculum and servicing at a more restricted budget than we currently have available will greatly impact the vision of choice.”

 Cathy Byran and Taylor Byran, Ohio Virtual Academy parent and student

 “E‚Äźschooling is the education model of the future. We need to fund it, not strangle it.

Ohioans are a pretty independent group, and our kids deserve the best educational

opportunities.” 

LeRoy Jackson, Life Skills graduate

 “Life Skills and the staff there helped me to consider my future and allowed me to see the potential that I contained within and also to believe in myself. Life Skills was the school of choice for me and it worked.”

 MSgt Ben Merrill,  Board Member, Summit Academy (and father of Summit Academy students)

 “Enrolling our sons into a charter school has been an excellent choice for them as well as for my wife and me. …I am here to ask the Education Subcommittee of Finance to continue to fund charter schools that serve special needs students, at a level that will continue to afford children, such as mine, the opportunity to experience the success it has brought to my family.”

 The OAPCS would like to say thank you to all that testified today.

 

February 13, 2013

 

Yesterday, the Governor’s budget was officially introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives as HB 59.  The entire budget is over 4,000 pages and can be read here . 

 In terms of funding, we have requested clarification on some items, and we are waiting to hear back from the governor’s office.  We are continuing our efforts to get budget spreadsheets for charter schools.  From the bill, we know that brick and mortar charters will get $5,000 per student from the “core opportunity” aid, plus a per-pupil amount of “targeted assistance” based on the student’s resident district, plus aid for special education (which is more than before, as explained below), plus early childhood access funds (if applicable), plus $50 per pupil for gifted identification and provision of services, plus additional funds for economically disadvantaged students and limited English proficiency, plus $100 per pupil for facilities. E-schools would get the same except they will not get the facilities allowance, the early childhood funds, or the targeted assistance.

 Below please find the other changes in the bill that would affect charter schools, followed by OAPCS’ initial thoughts.  We also ask that you contact us at 614-744-2266 or email sklupinski@oapcs.org if you have other concerns or comments to add.   OAPCS and other charter advocates will be testifying before the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education on March 7.  We will invite some of you to testify as well so you can best convey to our legislators how the budget is impacting your school. 

 The number on the left indicates the section of the Ohio Revised Code which would be changed or added under the proposed bill.  Below, in red, we provide OAPCS’ thoughts.  Remember that the work now moves to the General Assembly, where the various provisions of the bill will be debated and perhaps changed.

 263.320. COMMUNITY SCHOOL FACILITIES.   “The foregoing appropriation item 200684, Community School Facilities, shall be used to pay each community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code that is not an internet- or computer-based community school an amount equal to $100 for each full-time equivalent pupil for assistance with the cost associated with facilities. If the amount appropriated is not sufficient, the Department of Education shall prorate the amounts so that the aggregate amount appropriated is not exceeded.”

 What it says:   Charter schools, except for e-schools, will receive $100 per pupil for facilities, unless the actual amount appropriated is not enough.  In that case, charters will get a prorated amount. 

 OAPCS reaction:  As we’ve said before, $100 per pupil is much better than the $0 we are receiving now.  But we think the amount currently appropriated in the budget ($7.5 million) is already not enough to cover all students attending brick and mortar charters.  We also don’t like the exclusion of e-schools—they still have to rent facilities for testing purposes, and they have exorbitant technology costs.

 Section 3302.042. EXPANSION OF PARENT TRIGGER.  “(A) This section shall…apply to any school of a city, exempted village, or local school district that has been ranked according to performance index score…in the lowest five per cent of all public school buildings statewide for three or more consecutive school years …(B) Except as provided…if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the students enrolled in a school to which this section applies, or if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the total number of students enrolled in that school and the schools of lower grade levels whose students typically matriculate into that school, by the thirty-first day of December of any school year in which the school is subject to this section, sign and file with the school district treasurer a petition requesting the district board of education to implement one of the following reforms in the school, and if the validity and sufficiency of the petition is certified in accordance with division (C) of this section, the board shall implement the requested reform in the next school year.”

 What it says:  This change will expand what had been a Columbus pilot program to more districts.  It gives the parents of any school of a city, exempted village, or local school district whose performance index has ranked in the lowest five per cent of all public school buildings statewide for three or more consecutive years a voice to change their school.

 OAPCS reaction: We believe parent trigger laws can help increase parental involvement in their children’s education, and we support how this change expands the trigger law to more schools.  Additionally, we support how one of the options available to parents is to reopen the school as a charter school.  

 Sec. 3314.05 (F).  LIMITS ON SPONSORSHIP.  “In lieu of revoking a sponsor’s authority to sponsor community schools under division (C) of this section, if the department finds that a sponsor is not in compliance with applicable laws and administrative rules, the department may require the sponsor to remedy the conditions causing the sponsor not to be compliant and may place temporary limits on the breadth and scope of the sponsor’s authority until the sponsor implements remedies to the satisfaction of the department.”

 What it says:  The Ohio Department of Education will be able to impose some limits on a sponsor’s authority, short of revoking the sponsor’s ability to authorize.

 OAPCS reaction: The devil may be in the details, or in this case, the lack thereof.  The wording is vague and could be used by ODE to overstep the boundaries of their authority.  

 Section 3314.042.  FINANCIAL REPORTING.  “The governing authority of each community school shall comply with the standards for financial reporting adopted under division (B) (2) of section 3301.07 of the Revised Code.”

 What it says: Charters will now have to comply with a section of law that previously only applied to districts and educational service centers.  Charters will have to make financial information and annual budgets available to the public in an easy-to-understand format. The format must also show revenue by source for both classroom and non-classroom purposes, in the aggregate and for each subgroup of students.  The format must also include information on total revenue and expenditures, as well as per pupil revenue and expenditures. 

 OAPCS reaction: We have been asking around to get our school and management companies reactions to this new requirement, and we invite you to let us know.  

 Section 3314.08 (C) (1).  ODE MAKES PAYMENTS TO CHARTERS.   “The department of Education annually shall deduct from the state education aid of a student’s resident and, if necessary, from the payment made to the district under section 321.24 and 323.156 of the Revised Code and pay to the community school the sum of the following…” 

 What it says: Charter schools will receive their funds directly from the department of education, as opposed to the current way where the funds pass through the school districts.

 OAPCS reaction: The pass-through has long been a sore spot for both districts and charter schools, and this change seems like a step in the right direction.

 Section 3314.08 (C) (1) (c). INCREASES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION AMOUNTS.   Students will disabilities will receive the amounts below (which are listed in Sec. 3317.013).  But the state will also deduct from fifteen percent from aggregate amount paid for special education and put it toward an exceptional cost fund, to which charter schools may apply.  

 

$1,902 for each student whose primary or only identified disability is speech and language.

$4,827 for each student identifies as specific learning disabled or developmentally disabled, identified as having an other minor health impairment, or identified as a preschool child who is developmentally disabled.

$11,596 for each student identified as hearing disabled or severe behavior disabled.

$15,475 for each student identified as vision impaired, or having an other major health impairment.

$20,959 for each student identified as orthopedically disabled or as having multiple disabilities.

$30,896 for each student identified as autistics, having a traumatic brain injury, or as both visually and hearing impaired.  

 OAPCS reaction: We are generally pleased with the numbers assigned to special education categories.  We are withholding judgment for now, as we gather more details, about the fifteen percent that must be paid into the exceptional student fund.

  Section 3314.08 (C) (2).  E-SCHOOLS SHUT OUT OF SOME FUNDING.  E schools will not receive targeted funds or early childhood. E-schools will receive core opportunity, special ed, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and gifted funds.   As noted earlier, e-schools will also not receive the $100 facility funds

 OAPCS reaction: We believe the unequal treatment of e-schools is wrong. 

 Section 3314.082. CHARTERS TREATED LIKE DISTRICTS FOR GRANT PURPOSES.  “A community school shall be considered a school district and its governing authority shall be considered a board of education for the purpose of applying to any state or federal agency for grants that a school district may receive under federal or state law or any appropriations act of the general assembly.  The governing authority of a community school may apply to any private entity for additional funds.”

 What it says: For the purposes of applying to state and federal grants, charters will be considered school districts, and their governing authorities shall be considered boards of education.

 OAPCS reaction: We support this in theory, as we know that here and in other states, charters sometimes encountered some obstacles when applying for grants.  We want to make sure that the language proffered does not have unintended consequences by using well-defined terms like “school district” and “board of education” to apply to charters. 

 Section 3314.085. CAREER-TECH FUNDING.  “The department of education shall pay to each community school the amount approved for that school under section 3317.162 of the Revised Code by the lead district of the career-technical planning district to which the school has been assigned.”

 What it says: ODE will pay charter schools career tech funds directly.

 OAPCS reaction: Similar to what we stated above—we like the idea of more payments going directly to charters instead of passing through districts.  

 Section 3314.092. TRANSPORTATION.  “The governing authority of a community school established under this chapter shall consult with each school district board of education that transports students to the community school under sections 3314.09 and 3327.01 of the Revised Code prior to making any change in the hours or days in which the community school is open for instruction.”

 What it says: Charter schools must consult with districts when changing their schedules, but districts do not have to do the same.  In another part of the budget, a change is proposed that requires boards of education to “consider the compatibility” of their proposed schedule changes with the needs of charter schools.

 OAPCS reaction: Transportation remains one of the biggest issues facing charter schools.  We do not like how charters and districts are treated differently under the law: charters must “consult” with the district while districts simply must “consider.”

  

February 1, 2013

 

Update on Governor’s Proposed Education Budget

 

Governor Kasich presented his school funding plan to state superintendents and charter leaders yesterday afternoon.  The plan offers some good news for all public schools: it makes bold steps to reduce funding gaps, and it encourages greater flexibility and innovation.  There is also some great news specifically for charter schools, including a $100 per-pupil facilities allowance.  But there is also some uncertainty about how the plan will affect charters. 

Rather than receiving $5,700 per pupil, charters will receive a base amount of $5,000.  After the initial $5,000, charter students will receive additional funds based on their own needs and based on the property wealth and income of each student’s district of residence.  Additional state funding based on district factors, such as economically disadvantaged, will follow the student to the charter school on a proportional basis; funding based on a charter student’s individual needs, such as disabilities and English language learners, will also follow the student to the charter school. 

Additionally, all public students—including charter students—will receive $50 for the identification and provision of gifted serves.  Charter schools serving kindergarten could also apply for early childhood education access funds.

The plan also includes state funding of $100 per pupil for charter schools facilities.  While this is a huge step forward for charter schools, it pales in comparison to what many other states provide for charter facilities.  Moreover, e-schools will not receive the facilities allowance, despite the enormous expenses they incur to use facilities for assessments, especially as we move to the Common Core.

One of our immediate concerns is equity.  While Governor Kasich announced that no district schools will receive less money in state aid than they did for the current fiscal year, he did not address whether the same guarantee applies to charters.  Also, under the plan, a student from a wealthy district would bring a different amount to a charter school than if the same student was from a lower-wealth district.  It appears that the amount for the student from the wealthier district could be lower than the current state per-pupil amount.  OAPCS is also concerned that guarantee funds and local tax dollars will still leave large disparities between district and charter schools.  We want to ensure that the current funding gap is lessened—not widened.

OAPCS also wants to make sure that the governor’s plan for a $300 million Straight-A Fund, which offers one-time grants to districts to increasing efficiencies in achievement, is also available to charter schools. 

Like our district counterparts, we need more information. On Tuesday, February 5, state budget director Tim Keen will testify on the governor’s proposal to the House Finance Committee.  The governor’s office also plans to release spread sheets that will provide more detailed information next week.

The governor’s proposal is one step in lengthy process.  The plan will be drafted as a bill and introduced to the Ohio House of Representatives.  It will then go to the House Finance Committee for hearings.  Once it passes in the House, it will move to the Senate, and a similar process will occur.  Once the bill passes—which by law must occur by June 30—it goes back to the Governor, who can sign it into law.  The governor can also veto any particular item in the bill that makes an appropriation.  

OAPCS will continue to provide updates as we learn more. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, please contact us at 614-744-2266.  We will do our best to keep you updated and involved during this critical time for charter schools.

 

 

January 24, 2013

HB 543 Requires Staff Training in Suicide Awareness and Prevention

 

Effective March 22, 2013, school districts, community (charter) schools, STEM schools, and educational service centers must provide training in youth suicide awareness and prevention to all teachers, administrators, counselors, nurses and school psychologists, and any other staff deemed appropriate. Schools may adopt or adapt ODE’s curriculum or develop its own in consultation with experts. Training must be incorporated into the already required in service training covering (1) prevention of child abuse, violence, and substance abuse, (2) promotion of positive youth development, (3) school safety and violence prevention, (4) the school’s anti-bullying policy, and (5) in the case of middle schools and high schools, the prevention of dating violence. Employees must complete at least four hours of this in-service training within two years after commencing employment and every five years thereafter. See analysis here: Legislative Analysis HB543

 January 4, 2013

Amid a flurry of pre-holiday activity to meet end-of-the-year federal NCLB deadlines, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation creating a new system of report cards, beginning with school year 2013.  Among other things, House Bill 555 significantly changes how Ohio schools will be graded, and it increases oversight and sanctions for chronically under-performing schools.  

 Here are the major highlights of the 206-page legislation:

  • Replaces the current academic performance rating system with a phased-in letter grade system under which districts and schools are assigned grades of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F”.
  • Creates six component, graded classifications in which 15 separate performance measures are grouped.
  • Includes a “hold harmless” clause exempting districts and buildings from certain sanctions or penalties if, in 2015, their performance index score decline is within two standard errors of the statewide average decline. 
  • Requires the State Board of Education to develop an alternative academic performance rating system and closure criteria for community schools primarily serving students enrolled in dropout prevention and recovery programs.
  • Establishes a new evaluation process for determining which community school sponsors may sponsor additional schools based on ratings instead of the ranking system previously used.
  • Permits the Ohio Office of School Sponsorship to sponsor a community school if the school’s sponsor has been prohibited from sponsoring additional schools.
  • Requires the State Board to submit to the General Assembly recommendations for a comprehensive statewide plan to intervene in and improve the performance of persistently poor performing schools and school districts. 
  • Moves administration of the state achievement assessments in social studies to grades four and six.
  • Reinstates the permanent requirement for five scoring ranges on the state achievement assessments.
  • Requires diagnostic assessments of each student in third grade, as well as first and second grade under current law.
  • Requires immediate services and regular diagnostic assessments for a student found to have a reading deficiency.
  • Requires a teacher who provides reading instruction services under the third grade reading guarantee to be actively engaged in the reading instruction of students for the previous three years and to satisfy at least one of certain specified criteria, depending on which school year the teacher intends to provide these services.
  • Requires that a designated fiscal officer of a community school be licensed as a school treasurer prior to assuming duties; or, in the case of existing fiscal officers, be licensed within one year of the bill’s effective date.
  • Tweaks charter school closure criteria to align with the new accountability measures, and includes a caveat that only students who have attended the school for at least two years are included in the value added calculation used for closure.
  • Establishes measures that the Superintendent of Public Instruction must consider before approving new Internet- or computer-based community schools.
  • Modifies the method in which the value-added progress dimension or student academic growth measure must be used to evaluate teachers.
  • Permits an educational service center to sponsor a new start-up community school in any challenged district in the state, instead of just its service territory, so long as it receives approval to do so from the Department of Education.

On Wednesday, December 20th—the day Governor Kasich signed HB 555 into law—OAPCS Vice Presidents Stephanie Klupinski and Marianne Lombardo held a webinar informing OAPCS members of the hot-off-the-press changes.  The interactive information session was part of the WebAware series OAPCS offers to its members to provide updates on legislation affecting charter schools.

 

To view the enacted law, please go here.  To view a summary of the bill as reported by the Senate, go here

 

December 14, 2012

 

Legislative update—House Bill 555 Passes Out of Senate with Amendments

On Tuesday, House Bill 555 was voted out of the Senate Education Committee after a number of changes were made to the bill in an omnibus amendment.  The amended bill was then voted out of the Senate by a 26-7 vote on Wednesday.

Included in the changes was a safe harbor from automatic closure for charter schools, in light of the drop in student performances that are expected to come with the new PARCC assessments.  Under the Senate’s version, charter schools that are within two standard errors of measures of the state average decline in performance index score when compared to that score from the previous year shall not be subject to closure.  This safe harbor only applies during the first year of the new assessments. 

The amended version also made changes to the college and career-ready component of the report card; it eliminates the controversial Accountability Task Force; and it gives charter school fiscal officers a year to obtain their school treasurer license.

Because of the amendments, the bill will now return to the House for approval.  If it passes in the House, it will be sent to the Governor’s office for final approval.

May 24, 2012

The omnibus education bill (Sub. S.B. 316) as passed by the Senate and reported out of the House is now headed for conference committee to resolve differences.

The Legislative Service Commission has just released what they call their “Comparative Synopsis.”  This document shows the comparative provisions of the bill as originally introduced, as passed by the Senate, and as modified by the House.

None of what is written is yet law as the differences between the House and Senate must be resolved in conference and then the bill goes to the Governor for signature or line-item veto.

Since there are significant educational issues in this bill related to drop-out recovery schools, third-grade reading guarantees and interventions, gifted schools, academic performance ratings, school report cards, school and classroom spending reports; teacher evaluations; hybrid and blended schools, among many others, we thought you would be interested is this document.  To access this comparative analysis document, go here.

September 14, 2011

The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued a press release this morning regarding the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Actof 2011 (H.R. 2218) today with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 365-54.

What follows is an initial high-level summary of the provisions of that bill, provided by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It is promising on several fronts including renewal and expansion of the federal start-up funding to include replication of high-quality charter programs and grant programs for facilities funding.

NAPCS Analysis of H.R. 2218


September 13, 2011— The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act of 2011 (H.R. 2218) today with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 365-54. This is the first bill to pass either chamber of the U.S. Congress as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. H.R. 2218 was introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Strong leadership by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) ensured its success.

Prior to the final passage of the bill, the House resoundingly defeated an amendment introduced by Representative King (R-IA) that would have significantly reduced accountability for achievement gains for all groups of children. A number of organizations, including state charter associations, were instrumental in defeating this amendment. Details on this amendment can be found here. 

Major Provisions

  • Grants for Opening New Charter Schools, Replication and Expansion: H.R. 2218 updates thecharter school start-up grants to state education agencies (click here for review), which run sub-grant competitions to open charter schools. In previous years, funds were accessible only for the creation of new schools. While this was appropriate when the charter movement was launched, there is now evidence about what works well—and what doesn’t—and this bill supports replication and expansion of models that are successful. This legislation encourages states to provide grants to replicate and expand the most high-quality public charter schools, while still opening new schools and supporting innovative models. It also expands the definition of a state eligible entity to include a state charter school board or a governor of a state.
  • Grants for Facilities: H.R. 2218 also updates and streamlines the two current charter facilities aid programs. The State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grants Program (click here for review) incentivizes states to establish or enhance per-pupil facilities aid programs. The Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program (click here for review) leverages private investment in charter facilities financing, making it easier for charter schools to get loans for purchasing, leasing or improving facilities.

Grants for Evaluating Impact and Sharing Best Practices: Public charter schools continue to demonstrate ways to improve student achievement and better serve all students. H.R. 2218 ensures timely evaluations of charter schools’ impact on students, families and communities. It also supports the dissemination of best practices between public charters and traditional public schools.

 

 

 

 

August 15, 2011

 

There is a significant change to medication administration requirements that go into effect during this upcoming school year. Ohio law now requires that “only employees of the board who are licensed health professionals, or who have completed a drug administration training program conducted by a licensed health professional and considered appropriate by the board, may administer to a student a drug prescribed for the student.” (RC § 3313.713 (B)(2)). This applies to charter school employees as well.
 
The most important change in this requirement is that any employee that issues medication to students must complete a medication administration training course unless they are already a licensed health professional. The requirement is not listed explicitly in Section 3314, which is the part of the Ohio Revised Code that applies to charter schools. But it applies to charters through the Ohio Administrative Code, which outlines certain minimum educational standards for all chartered public and non-public educational institutions. Because community schools, as chartered public educational institutions, are subject to these standards, they are also subject to statutory provisions referenced in the administrative code. In this case, OAC § 3301-35-6 (I)(c)(vii) specifically references the new medication administration requirement, Sec. 3313.713, in its outline of the minimum standards for student health and safety requirements. 
 
The Ohio Department of Health only provides their medication administration train-the-trainer course to licensed health professionals. If your community school does not presently employ a school nurse or other licensed health professional, we recommend that you contact your local health department to inquire whether they have the resources available to assist you. You might also want to check with neighboring school districts, other neighboring health departments, your county’s Educational Service Center (ESC), private nursing personnel services, or local hospitals to see if they may have a licensed health professional available to assist your school with this training. 

 

July 2011

 

House Bill 153 Summary

The budget process finally drew to a close on Thursday, June 30th, when Governor Kasich signed Sub H.B. 153 into law. With any budget comes a great deal of change in policy. This year, as has often been the case, charter school issues generated much debate. OAPCS worked with many other aligned interests to push for provisions that would enhance charter quality through greater accountability and transparency. We are very pleased with the outcome.
 

OAPCS has compiled the budget bill’s charter school provisions as well as other education provisions affecting charter schools into one place to help you know where the law currently stands. Included in these bullet points are the budget reference numbers (all begin with EDUCD) to make looking up specific provisions in the budget comparison document easier (available at http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/fiscal/comparedoc129/asreportedbycc/comparedoc-hb153-cc.pdf).

Please note that these items do not appear chronologically. Instead, we have grouped them according to subject (e.g., funding, facilities, sponsors). We hope these summations prove helpful. The Alliance stands ready and able to assist any OAPCS members who may have questions.
 

Quick Overview

Automatic Closure of Community Schools (EDUCD91)

  • Requires the closure of community schools that do not offer a grade higher than third, or offer any of grades ten through twelve, if the school is in academic emergency for two of the three most recent school years.

Facilities

  • Requires districts to sell/lease unused buildings at Fair Market Value. (EDUCD5)
  • For more on facilities, please see separate section on facilities below.

Funding

  • Schools who achieve excellent or excellent with distinction will receive $17 per student bonus. (EDUCD 161)
  • Charters can enter into agreements with districts or schools to jointly operate a program. (EDUCD 18)
  • Sets the formula amount at $5,653 for transfer payments for students attending community schools, STEM schools, and other districts through open enrollment, and colleges and universities through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program. (EDUCD 51)
  • Special education funding for community school and STEM school students will be computed using FY 2009 disability categories and FY 2009 weights. (EDUCD 51)
  • For more, please see separate section on funding below.

Direct Authorization of Community Schools by ODE (EDUCD92)

  • Allows a person, group of individuals, an entity, or an existing community school whose contract with its sponsor has been terminated or expired to apply to be sponsored directly by the Ohio Department of Education.

ODE is required to establish the Office of Ohio School Sponsorship to deal with such applications. The office will have 30 days to determine whether an application meets the official requirements and must approve the application if such requirements are met.

  • Requires that applicants for sponsorship by the Office of Ohio School Sponsorship will have to file statements regarding financial conditions, school operation and management, and whether the school will be a start-up or conversion community school.
  • Limits the Office to sponsoring 20 schools during its first 5 years, only five of which can be new schools.
  • Requires that length of the sponsor contract is limited to a 5 year initial term and it may include up to a 3% oversight and monitoring fee.
  • Requires ODE must create an annual report assessing the schools in the program.
  • Holds ODE-sponsored schools to state performance and enrollment standards

Expanded Location of Start-up Community Schools (EDUCD151)

  • Expands the definition of challenged school district to include districts whose performance index score places them in the bottom five percent of all districts.

Governing Authorities (EDUCD108)

  • A governing board member, or immediate relative, may not be an owner, employee, or consultant of a community school sponsor for one year after the conclusion of the member’s term.

Topical Review

I. Teachers and School Administrators
II. Community School Funding
III. E-Schools
IV. Student Instruction
V. Community School Facilities
VI. Sponsors
VII. Dropout Recovery

I. Teachers and School Administrators

Exemptions for Highly Performing School Districts (EDUCD131)

  • Ensures that all districts, even those that are excellent and effective, must adhere to new requirements regarding teacher evaluations, compensation, reductions in force, and teacher employment contracts.

Teacher Compensation (Affected by Race to the Top) (EDUCD11)

  • For schools—including charters—that receive Race to the Top funds, requires them to pay teachers by performance.
  • For schools—including charters—that receive Race to the Top funds, requires that teachers’ salary schedule provide for annual adjustments based on evaluations.
  • For schools—including charters—that receive Race to the Top funds, allows additional compensation for some teachers who perform additional duties that employer determines warrant additional compensation.

Teacher and Principal Evaluations (EDUCD129)

  • Requires State Board of Education to develop standards and criteria for teacher and principal evaluations that distinguish between four levels of performance.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to develop a list of student assessment criteria that measure mastery of course content not already covered by state assessments and value-added.
  • Requires that the framework for teacher evaluation:

provides for multiple evaluation factors, but has student academic growth count for 50 percent of the evaluation;

is aligned with the Educator Standards Board’s standards for teachers;
includes at least two classroom walkthroughs and observations of the teacher for 30 minutes each;
implements a classroom level, value-added program.


  • Requires that teachers are provided with a written report of the evaluation results.
  • Requires that the framework provides for professional development to support poorly –performing teachers.
  • Requires that community schools and STEM schools that receive Race to the Top funds adopt a teacher evaluation policy that conforms to the framework by July 1, 2013, and specifies that the policy takes effect at the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, if any, that is in effect on provision’s effective date.

Out-of-State Teachers (EDUCD3)

  • Requires state board to adopt by July 1, 2013, a list of states with licensure standards that are inadequate to ensure that a person with 5 years of experience is qualified for a professional educator license in Ohio
  • Once the list is approved, the state must automatically issue a professional educator license to any applicant who meets the above criteria and was most recently licensed in a state not on list.

Alternative Resident Educator License (EDUCD82)

  • Prohibits State Board from requiring that teachers have a major in the teacher’s area
  • Allows license holders to satisfy continuing education requirements with professional development provided as part of a teacher preparation program that is operated by a nonprofit organization and approved by the Chancellor of Board of Regents
  • Requires Chancellor to approve any teacher preparation program that requires participants to have a bachelor’s degree, have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher, and complete a summer training institute.

Teach For America Licensure (EDUCD155)

  • Prohibits State Board of Education from establishing additional licensure qualifications for participants in the Teach For America program beyond those enacted in Sub. H.B. 21 of the 129th General Assembly
  • Specifies that Teach For America participants are ineligible for alternative resident educator licenses.

Criminal Records Check of Adult Education Instructors (EDUCD16)

  • Prohibits schools, including community schools, districts, or ESCs, from requiring an applicant for the position of adult education instructor to undergo a criminal records check, if the applicant had a records check within the previous 2 years as a condition of being hired for short-term employment with that district, school, or ESC.

Gifted Education Coordinator (EDUCD98)

  • Allows a school principal or any other employee assigned to a school to also serve as school’s gifted education coordinator, if qualified.

Retesting Teachers (EDUCD15)

  • Requires ODE to annually rank, by building, all city, districts, STEM, and community schools into percentiles according to performance index score.
  • Requires teachers (including those at community schools) to retake any written tests required by state board for their subject area and grade if the teacher is at a school that is in the lowest 10 percentiles.

A teacher who can provide proof of having passed the exam is not required to retake the exam again for 3 years, even if the teacher is at a school ranked in bottom.

  • Allows schools to use results of required testing to devise or revise professional development for teachers (including those at community schools).
  • Specifies that teachers are not responsible for cost of exam.

II. Funding

Use of State Funding to Pay Taxes (EDUCD105)

  • Repeals language that prohibits community schools from using state funds to pay taxes owed by the community school.

Subsidy for Higher Performing School Districts (EDUCD161)

  • An additional $17 in per pupil funding for community schools that are rated “excellent with distinction” or “excellent” on their annual report card.

Educational Service Centers Funding (EDUCD67)

  • State funding for ESCs will be reduced over the next 2 years.

2012 funding will be at 90% of funds provided in 2011
2013 funding will be at 85% of funds provided in 2012

  • Funds that are allocated for an ESC that no longer exists are reallocated to remaining ESCs based on average daily membership
  • Funding for ESCs that merge is calculated by adding the the funds each would have received before the merger.

Foundation and Transitional Aid Funding Reimbursement (EDUCD75)

  • Schools districts have no legal right to reimbursement for a reduction in funding that resulted from the school district’s students enrolling in community schools for Fiscal Year 2005 and the subsequent transitional aid funding years up to Fiscal Year 2007, unless the reimbursement was the result of a final court judgment executed on or before June 1, 2009.

Family and Children First Flexible Funding Pool (EDUCD77)

  • Permits community schools to transfer portions of their funding to a flexible funding pool created by a county family and children first council to support the provision of services to families and children.

School Property Tax Exemption (EDUCD99)

  • Real property that is used by a community school for a primary or secondary educational purpose is exempt from taxation. Any portion of the real property not used for a primary or secondary educational purpose is still subject to taxation.

Fees for Career-Technical Education Materials (EDUCD164)

  • Students that are eligible for free lunch can be charged by a community school for tools, equipment, and materials necessary for work-force readiness training as long as those materials are retained by the student after course completion.

III. E-School Issues

Lifting of the E-School Moratorium (EDUCD10)

  • Removes, after January 1, 2013, the moratorium on opening new e-schools and allows up to five new e-schools to be opened each year once the moratorium has been lifted.
  • Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education to develop and submit standards for e-school operation to the General Assembly by July 1, 2012.
  • E-Schools must comply with either the GA enacted standards (if passed) or the International Association for K-12 Online Learning standards after January 1, 2013 (or July 1, 2013 if already in operation as an e-school).

Automatic Community School Enrollment (EDUCD126)

  • Establishes that any student that was enrolled at an internet- or computer-based community school during the previous school year is automatically re-enrolled for the purposes of calculating the following year’s state funding.
  • Without a legitimate excuse, an automatically reenrolled student is disenrolled and payments are recalculated if the student fails to begin internet- or computer-based learning opportunities during the first 105 consecutive hours of learning opportunities offered.

E-School Per Pupil Spending Requirement (EDUCD89)

  • Internet- or Computer-based schools are no longer required to spend as much per pupil as the per pupil statewide classroom teacher amount outlined in the Building Blocks school funding model.

Exemption from State Laws (EDUCD112)

  • Specifies that e-schools are exempt from body mass index (BMI) screening requirements.

Interesting Provisions Removed

Hybrid Schools (EDUCD148)

  • The Senate included language in its version of the budget that would have allowed for the creation of several hybrid schools, schools that would have combined traditional classroom instruction with online instruction. The provision did not make the cut in the final version of the budget, but generated a large amount of interest and is something to keep an eye on for the future.

Student Computer Requirement (EDUCD133)

  •  The House included language in its version of the budget that would have eliminated the requirement that each student in an e-school have their own computer. Instead it would only require the e-school to provide one computer for every other student enrolled living in the same household.

IV. Student Instruction

Students with Disabilities Testing (EDUCD132)

  • Requires that an IEP for a disabled student specify the manner in which the student will participate in state achievement testing.

Statewide Academic Standards (EDUCD121)

  • Repeals a number a of the less concrete assessment areas added by the Evidence Based Model school reforms, including: the senior project, “other skills necessary in the 21st century”, critical thinking and innovation, communication and collaboration, and others.
  • Changes what must be measured by a nationally standardized test for it to be part of the graduation regimen.
  • Requires the state to offer multiple assessments options for graduation regimen.

V. Facilities

Current Facilities (EDUCD97)

  • Allows more than one community school to occupy the same facility.
  • Allows community schools to be located in multiple facilities so long as the facilities are in the same county and the different locations have the same operator.
  • Requires ODE, in case of school with many facilities, to assign each facility with a unique identification number and prohibits ODE from calculating funding or report card data separately for a school that has multiple facilities

Disposal of School District Property (EDUCD5)

  • Requires districts to lease/sell unused buildings to community schools located in the same district at Fair Market Value.
  • Requires public auction open to all community schools in district if more than one school wants to buy a facility.
  • Requires lottery if more than one wants to lease.
  • Permits district to dispose of property if no offer in 60 days.
  • Strikes “suitable for use as classroom space” from current provision that does and still requires districts to offer community schools a right of first refusal to purchase real property that the district seeks to dispose of

VI. Sponsors

Sponsorship Limitations (EDUCD10)

  • Sponsors can only sponsor additional schools if they are not ranked in the lowest 20% in an annual ranking of sponsors by their composite performance index (drop out recovery and special needs schools exempted).

Specifies that if a school enters into a contract with a sponsor prior to the sponsor becoming subject to the prohibition and the school has not opened at that time, the contract is void and the school must secure a new sponsor in order to open.

  • Sponsors may now sponsor up to 100 schools.
  • Eliminates the law that automatically reduces by one the maximum number of schools an entity may sponsor for every one of the sponsor’s schools that permanently closes.

Termination of Sponsor Contract with School (EDUCD96)

  • A sponsor must now notify a school by February 1 of its intent to terminate/not renew their contract.
  • After such notification, an informal hearing requested by the school must be held within 14 days of the request and the sponsor must then issue a written decision within 14 days of the hearing.
  • Appealing the decision from the informal hearing to the State Board of Education is required to be done within 14 days of receiving the written decision and the State Board must conduct a hearing and issue its decision with 60 days of the appeal.
  • Requires schools that have terminated their sponsor contract to close at the end of the current school year.
  • Also provides civil immunity for Sponsor and its employees.

Community School Monitoring (EDUCD143)

  • Current requirement that a community school sponsor must have a representative located within 50 miles of each sponsored school was repealed.
  • Sponsors must now meet with the governing authority or the community school’s financial officer once every month to review financial and enrollment records.

Selling of Services by Community School Sponsors (EDUCD142)

  • Final version did not include Senate language that would have prohibited a sponsor from selling any goods or services to a community school that it sponsors.

VII. Drop Out Recovery

Drop Out Recovery Program Standards (EDUCD10)

  • State Board to issue performance standards by July 1, 2012 for Drop Out prevention/recovery programs.
  • ODE is required to develop and submit a plan to provide two additional years of instruction to persons age 22 or older.
  • ODE must consult with the US Dept. of Education to ensure the program doesn’t expand beyond the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

 

 

june 2011

House Bill 153 Update

As spring turns to summer, Ohio’s biennial budget bill, Substitute House Bill 153, continues to work its way through the General Assembly. The Ohio Senate passed its version of the bill on Wednesday afternoon. Later that evening the Ohio House voted to reject the changes made by the Senate. The House’s rejection of the Senate’s amendments to the bill means the legislation will now go to Conference Committee where members from both the House and Senate will work to iron out the differences between the two versions. The Senate version of Sub. HB 153 varied in a number of significant ways, especially in the area of community school law, from the version passed earlier this spring by the House. One of the first issues the Conference Committee will have to decide is which version of the budget will be used as its working document. This procedural question is important because whichever version is chosen will become the starting point for negotiations between the two chambers. Once the Conference Committee passes the bill, that version will go back to each chamber for a vote of approval before heading to the Governor for his signature (no later than June 30). The Governor, using his line-item veto authority, will still have the opportunity to remove provisions of the budget he dislikes.

The purpose of this update is to explain what changes the Senate made to community school law in the budget and how those changes relate to the House version.

The Senate version of the bill includes the following provisions:
1. Subsidy for High Performing School Districts
2. Formation of Community Schools
3. Regulations for Sponsoring New Schools
4. Lifting the E-School Moratorium
5. Creation of Hybrid Schools
6. Changes to the Definition of Challenged School District
7. Community Schools for Gifted Students and Students with Disabilities
8. Right of First Refusal for Unused District Property

Below are more detailed explanations of each provision and the possible impact on community schools.

1. Subsidy for High Performing School Districts

The Ohio Senate added an important provision that provides an additional subsidy of $17 dollars per student to both school districts and community schools that are rated “excellent with distinction” or “excellent” on their annual state report card. The Subsidy for High Performing Districts is based on how well community schools performed on their fiscal year 2010 report card and is calculated based on the number of students enrolled at the end of the fiscal year as verified by the Department of Education. If signed into law, the subsidy would provide a one-time increase in funding at 29 of Ohio’s best community schools.

2. Formation of Community Schools

The Ohio Senate removed several changes the Ohio House of Representatives made concerning who can form a community school and how they can form them. The Ohio House of Representatives’ version would have permitted “entities” and “groups of individuals” to form community schools, allowed community schools to be established by for-profit corporations or limited liability corporations, and allowed organizations to form community schools without a sponsor by making a direct application to the Ohio Department of Education. In the current law, education-oriented non-profit organizations are the only groups allowed to form community schools that aren’t affiliated with state or local government and all community schools must have a sponsor that provides oversight. OAPCS advocated for and approved the removal of these provisions in the version of the bill passed by the Senate because the provisions would have substantially reduced community school accountability, something the Alliance has been working to overcome in recent years through hard work, dedication to students, and superior academic performance.

3. Regulations for Sponsoring New Schools

The Ohio Senate replaced the House’s performance provision for sponsoring new community schools with one that prohibited sponsors from sponsoring new community schools if 20 percent of the schools they sponsor ranked in the bottom 5 percent of all public schools, based on performance index score, at any point after the 2008-2009 school year. Unlike the House version, the Senate doesn’t restrict a sponsor simply because its schools perform worse than other sponsors. Instead, it would restrict sponsors with a large percentage of schools that perform poorly relative to all public schools in the state of Ohio, including public schools in unchallenged districts.

4. Lifting the E-school moratorium

The Senate version prohibits a new e-school from opening unless for three years prior, it has operated in another state and performed higher than academic watch (as determined by ODE). It also required the State Board to adopt rules establishing operating standards for e-schools based on the iNacol International Association for K-12 Online Learning national standards of quality for online courses (recommended by OAPCS) and grants the existing e-schools 3 years after the adoption of the standards to comply. The Senate version also requires the Department of Education to develop new standards for determining annual operating expenses at e-schools. The House passed version would have left the moratorium in place until the General Assembly adopted new standards for operation of e schools.

5. Creation of Hybrid Schools

The Senate version of the budget also included language allowing the creation of five pilot Hybrid Schools (supported by OAPCS). These schools will be allowed to combine online learning with direct classroom instruction. Only traditional brick and mortar schools will be allowed to apply to become a hybrid school and any application to be one of the pilot hybrid schools must be submitted within 60 days of the budget’s passage. After a three year evaluation period, there is the possibility for another five hybrid schools to be opened.

6. Definition of “Challenged School District”

The Senate added to the definition of “challenged school district,” now includes a school district that is ranked in the lowest 5% according to performance index score.

7. Changes Regarding Gifted Students and Students with Disabilities

The Senate version would allow organizations to establish two specific types of community schools in a district that is not challenged. These schools must be a public benefit corporation and at least 75% of the school’s total enrollment must be children with disabilities or children identified as gifted. These community schools can only be established with the approval of either the local school district or Department of Education. The Department of Education has to identify a specific need for either of these types of school in the local geographic area before approval.

8. Right of First Refusal For Unused District Property

The Senate’s version of the bill provides community schools the right of first refusal to lease unused district property that has not been used within two years, so long as the community school is located in the district.If a more than one community school accepts the offer to lease the property, highest preference goes to the community school with the highest ranking according to its performance index score. For community schools ranked in the top 50% of all school district buildings, the price of the lease is one dollar (recommended by OAPCS). For all other community schools, the amount may not be higher than fair market value. If no community school accepts the lease offer, the district board may lease it to another entity.

While the legislative process is drawing to a close, Conference Committee can still lead to significant changes in community school law. Given the differences between some of the education language in the House and Senate versions of the budget, this process is far from over. The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools will continue to engage with the General Assembly on these important matters and work to ensure the interests of our members are heard by legislators. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. 
 

April 2011

‘Snow days’ bill fails in Ohio House
 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 01:41 PM
WBNS-10TV

Lawmakers have shot down legislation that would provide school districts with more "snow days."

The Ohio House of Representatives rejected what has become known as the Calamity Days bill on Tuesday, 10TV News reported. Lawmakers were at odds over revisions that would require school districts to provide transportation to charter schools during make-up days.

The bill will now go to a conference committee where changes can be considered.

The proposal would have restored the number of excusable calamity days to five after a law signed by former Gov. Ted Strickland reduced the number to three. Supporters say more calamity days are needed, especially for rural school districts that are more severely impacted by winter weather.

The bill would have also provided school districts with more flexibility in how they make up calamity days. The measure’s stop in the House was the final hurdle before it was to head to Gov. John Kasich, as the Senate had already approved it.

 

 

February 2011

Update on Proposed Federal Education Funding
 

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Issues a Statement on Proposed Federal Funding for Charter Schools

Funding Requests for both the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget and the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution Support Charter School Growth

Washington, DC – In response to President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget request, and the proposed fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released the following statement from its president and CEO, Peter C. Groff:

Over the past several days, both President Obama and the House Majority have proposed budget requests that would have a positive impact on the growth and replication of high-quality charter schools. Because the budget is the moral document of our nation, it shows what we care about and how much we care. These proposed investments show that the president, the secretary of education and the Congress care about our children and the nation’s future.

On February 14, President Obama released his Administration’s fiscal year 2012 funding request for the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Education. The President’s request signaled his Administration’s sustained and strong commitment to education reform, and the recommended funding increase for the Department of Education is especially to be commended, given the country’s current economic challenges. We applaud the president for continuing to make progress against his pledged goal of doubling the amount of federal funding allocated to charter schools.

With this proposed budget, the Administration takes noticeable steps forward to support education reform, including increasing funding for many deserving programs and pushing to maximize the effective distribution of the available funding by streamlining the Department of Education’s programs. However, the Department of Education again proposes funding ‘autonomous public schools’ with funding from the public charter school programs under a newly created Expanding Educational Options Program. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools opposes this part of the proposal, just as we did last year. We argue that autonomous public schools are already sufficiently resourced with state and municipal funding, while charter schools desperately need these resources. We call upon the president and the Department of Education to continue the work of streamlining education dollars, and to stay clear of this duplicative spending.

The Department of Education made several important requests, including $900 million for a new Race to the Top program which would now be open to school districts. It also requested an increase for the 21st Century Community Learning Center, up to $1.27 billion, an increase of approximately $100 million above the previous year’s funding. In addition, this funding can now be used for extended learning time, which is an important component of many high-quality charter schools. The Department of Education also requested $150 million for promise neighborhoods, a program that supports innovative and effective projects like Harlem Children’s Zone. We were especially excited to see a proposal of $90 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects in Agency-Education (ARPA-ED), which would be an exciting new way to focus on innovation, especially blended learning models.

While it is time to begin looking ahead to next year’s budget, there is also unfinished business from fiscal year 2011. To bring closure to this year’s budget, on February 11 the House Majority released its proposed Continuing Resolution to provide funding for the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. On behalf of the public charter school movement, we applaud the support the new majority has shown for our sector. During this difficult economic time, we recognize Congress has many competing demands for funding. While many initiatives and programs are projected to receive less funding, the Continuing Resolution proposes to continue funding the charter programs at last year’s levels, which will ensure parents and children around the country have more high-quality public school options. In addition, we are hopeful that Congress will find a way to allow flexibility in the amount of this funding available for replicating and expanding our best charter models, as well as to support the existing facility aid programs. Enabling more funding to support these purposes won’t cost anything, and will allow the appropriations to best meet the needs of the charter school sector.

We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress over these next few months to finish both the fiscal year 2011 work, as well as the work for fiscal year 2012. While these two proposals may have many differences, they both support charter school growth and show strong bi-partisan support for these innovative public schools.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (http://www.publiccharters.org) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The Alliance works to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and underserved families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. More than 1.6 million students attend nearly 5,000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia. 

© Copyright 2006 – 2011 , The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
1101 Fifteenth Street, NW, Suite 1010. Washington, DC 20005. (202) 289-2700
www.publiccharters.org
 

December 2010

Cordray v. The International Preparatory School

In a unanimous decision handed down today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that an officer, employee, or duly authorized agent of a public charter school is a public official and thus may be personally liable to the state for lost or misspent funds. In January 2007, the state auditor issued a report finding that The International Preparatory had improperly sought and received over $1.4 million from the Department of Education by submitting inflated enrollment figures from July 2004 through October 2005, when the school ceased operating. The treasurer of the board of the now-defunct charter school, Hasina Shabazz, was held liable for the money, along with her now-deceased husband, who was also a board member. Shabazz argued that she should not be held personally liable. But the Court found otherwise, stressing that public officials are liable for the public funds they control. A factual question remains—whether Hasina Shabazz acted as treasurer of the school or just, as she claims, as treasurer of the board. The Court remanded the case to trial court to determine whether Shabazz’s responsibilities included the receipt or collection of public money, or whether she supervised those who did collect money under color of office. Under Ohio law, every community school must have a designated fiscal officer. Shabazz did admit to occasionally filling in as school treasurer when needed.
 

October 2010

Education Jobs Fund Program Update for Charter Schools

he U. S. Department of Education just released updated guidance on the Education Jobs Fund relating to charter schools. This is the second round of guidance on charters and it SUPERSEDES the September 1 guidance. Prior to this guidance, over 1,000 charter schools affiliated with charter or education management organizations were potentially excluded from benefiting from this critical funding.

Brooks Garber of the National Alliance for public Charter Schools says about the new guidelines,

“While it isn’t a carte blanche allowance for C/EMOs to use the funding, the Department has broadened the guidance now allowing C/EMO’s to use the funding in the cases where schools can demonstrate that they have a certain degree of control over the employees. I encourage everyone to take a close read of the updated guidance and have their individual schools examine it too before tapping into the funding. The updated guidance suggests that schools should have their own attorneys certify the employee relationship as well.

You can view the updated guidance HERE.
 

September 2010

Update

Legislature will not be in session until after the elections and then little is expected to happen in lame-duck session until the newly elected take office.

July 2010

Budget Cuts in K-12 Public Education Looming

As the biennial budget process begins again this fall, Ohio like many other states, is facing a significant budget shortfall as a consequence of the “Great Recession.” Problem number one from the standpoint of education is the state’s revenue shortfall. Problem number two is that the state was only able to fully fund K-12 public education in the last budget go-round with stimulus money (about $850 million) from the federal government. Given declining revenues and the end to stimulus dollars many experts are predicting the necessity to cut funding for K-12 public education somewhere between 10 and 15%. 

State budget director Pari Sabety has asked state agencies to prepare two budget forecasts, one based upon flat funding and the other based upon 90% of current funding. Charter schools would be wise to do the same thing. As the budget process develops, look to the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools to provide support and counsel around efficient and streamlined fiscal planning.

JUNE 2010

 

Representative Dyer Plans to Continue his Probe Into Charter School Law With Possible Future Hearings

Representative Stephen Dyer (D-Green) held two hearings of his Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee exploring state law related to a recently filed charter school lawsuit. Rep. Dyer says that he intends to pursue solutions to problems that he claims exist with for-profit operating companies and their alleged potential for control over the non-profit boards of directors of community charter schools.

According to a report in the Gongwer Ohio News Service, “Rep. Dyer said he does not necessarily think the problem lies in operators being for-profit companies, as some witnesses suggested, as much as a lack of transparency raises problems when operators are not performing to standard.”

Dyer indicated, "I think we need to get (a bill) out there relatively soon, but I don’t know if that’s a matter of days, weeks or months," he said.
 

April 2010

Don’t Miss Your School’s Opportunity to Participate in Race-to-the-Top Funding!

Yesterday, State Superintendent Deborah Delisle released more information on the Phase II Race to the Top (RttT) application process. In light of the complex work associated with RttT, a funding floor has been established which guarantees a minimum funding amount for participating districts and community schools.

If your community school is on this list, we strongly encourage you to participate in Race to the Top and take advantage of this new funding floor. There are 293 districts and 105 community schools that would receive a minimum level of funds if they apply. Eligible school districts will receive $100,000 and community schools will receive $25,000 if they apply and the state’s application is approved.

Please see the attached list to confirm whether your charter school is eligible for the funding floor. Also attached is the amount of possible funds for all districts and charter schools.

It is important community schools submit MOUs as soon as possible. Districts and community schools eligible for the funding floor must submit their MOU to the Ohio Department of Education by May 3, 2010 at 4 p.m. All remaining MOUs will be due to ODE on May 14, 2010 at 4 p.m.

Each MOU brings our state one step closer to being a contender for $400 million in funding. Illustrating enhanced participation from school districts and community schools will ultimately strengthen Ohio’s application and benefit students across the state.

For more information on RttT, go to www.rttt.education.ohio.gov

Please click here for a list of schools that will receive floor funding. 

Please click here for schools that will receive other funding amounts.
 

July 2009

Charter school funding restored in final budget bill

After months of deliberations and debate — the 128th General Assembly passed H.B. 1, the state’s biennial budget bill. The House of Representatives passed the legislation mostly along party lines with a vote of 54-44, while the Senate approved the measure by a vote of 17-15 (with the support of the chamber’s 12 Democrats and five Republican leaders).

Although a thorough review of the final bill and support documents will take time, the General Assembly’s actions with respect to primary and secondary education are clear. Despite the crippling recession, related shortfalls in state revenue and deep spending cuts imposed on countless state agencies and programs, the Administration, House and Senate agreed that K-12 education would remain a top priority.

Governor Strickland’s efforts to “overhaul” education funding were successful with approval of the “Evidence-Based Model,” which aims to cost-out staffing and facility resources needed to improve academic success. However, a compromise was made to modify the model to provide funding on a per-pupil basis as favored by Republicans. House Democrats also agreed to the Senate’s demand that charter school funding be restored.

Under the bill, state funding to primary and secondary schools will decrease by about 0.25 percent each year from more than $6.54 billion in fiscal year 2009 to about $6.53 billion in FY 2010 and $6.51 billion in FY 2011. These modest cuts to public schools apply to both traditional and charter. 

Against the backdrop of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the modest yet equitable cuts to charter schools – as compared to the devastating funding reductions proposed by the Governor and supported by the House – represent a tremendous legislative victory for school choice advocates!

Beyond funding, the following highlights of the outcome on key charter school provisions included in various versions of H.B. 1 should help relieve anxiety among charter school stakeholders and supporters.

First, a look a changes proposed during the lengthy budget process that remain in the final version of the bill:

Community school closure – The most significant demand of charter critics was tightening of Ohio’s automatic closure laws.  Under H.B. 1, current performance criteria that trigger automatic closure of a community school (with a continued exemption for dropout recovery schools with a waiver from ODE, and a new exemption for schools in which a majority of the students are receiving special education) effective July 1, 2009 include:

  • For schools that do not offer a grade higher than 3, requires closure if the school has been in academic emergency for three of the four most recent school years (instead of the previous standard of four consecutive years);

  • For schools that offer any of grades 4 to 8 but no grade higher than 9, requires closure if the school has been in academic emergency for two of the three most recent school years and showed less than one standard year of academic growth in reading or math for at least two of the three most recent years (instead of the previous standard of academic emergency for three consecutive years and showed less than one standard year of academic growth in reading or math for two of those years);

  • For schools that offer any of grades 10 to 12, requires closure if the school has been in academic emergency for three of the four most recent years (instead of the previous standard of three consecutive years).

Community school report cards – H.B. 1 eliminates the requirement that a community school must be in operation for two full school years before the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) may issue its report card.  A compromise was reached to exempt the performance rating on the report cards issued in these first two years from consideration for automatic closure or any other matter based on report card ratings.

Community school calamity days – The Senate amendment requiring ODE to waive the number of hours a community school is closed for a public calamity as long as the school provides the required minimum number of learning opportunities to students in the school years remains in the final version of the bill.

Sponsor performance – Under the bill, ODE’s annual report on community schools must include information on the performance of community school sponsors.

Sponsor oversight – H.B. 1 provides that ODE’s authority to oversee and monitor community school sponsors applies to ALL sponsors, regardless of whether they must initially be approved by ODE for sponsorship. 

e-School instructional spending – Remaining in the bill is a provision added by the Senate adding computers and software to the instructional items for which Internet or computer-based community schools may use the per pupil amount of state funds calculated for base classroom teachers.

JVSD conversion community schools – The bill includes a provision amended into the bill by the Senate permitting the conversion of a building operated by a joint vocational school district board of education into a community school in the same manner as a building operated by a city, local or exempted village school district board of education or an educational service center governing board may be converted under existing law.

And now, a look at changes proposed by Governor Strickland and/or the Democrat-led House of Representatives which were removed at the insistence of the Republican-led Senate (to whom charter advocates owe great appreciation):

Community school accountability – Several provisions (related to opening date exception for dropout recovery schools, submission of corrective action plans to ODE, and release of student records) were eliminated.

Community school consolidation – A provision was eliminated which would have required ODE to compute aggregate funding for co-located schools as if they were one school and to pay each school a per-pupil share of the aggregate amount.

Community school on-site evaluations – Provisions were eliminated that would have required ODE to conduct an on-site visit of each community school at least every five years to evaluate the school’s operations.

Teacher qualifications – Eliminated from the bill was a provision which would have explicitly required community school teachers to be highly qualified in the same manner as teachers employed by school districts and further requiring community schools to comply with any other State Board rules (such as those that limit teachers to teaching in the subject areas of grade levels for which they are licensed).

Unauditable community schools – Language was removed from the bill that would have made permanent provisions prescribing procedures for the Auditor of State, community school sponsors, and ODE, with regard to community schools that are declared unauditable (current procedures will remain, but must be approved by the General Assembly to continue beyond the current budget bill).

Sponsor sanctions – Had this provision remained in the bill, ODE would have been permitted to impose new sanctions (probation and suspension) against a sponsor prior to revoking the sponsor’s authority to sponsor.

Sponsor assurances – Had this provision remained, sponsors would have been required to provide assurances to ODE that each community school it sponsors is in compliance with criminal records check and supervision requirements for ALL employees of private companies under contract with the school.

Sponsor caps – A provision prohibiting a sponsor from initially entering into a sponsorship contract with a community school if more than 33 percent of the sponsor’s existing schools in Ohio are in academic watch or academic emergency was eliminated.

Prohibition of for-profit operators – Eliminated from the bill is a provision requiring that operators of community schools be non-profit entities.

Contracts with operators – Eliminated from the bill is a provision requiring that contracts between a community school and an operator be selected through a competitive bidding process established by ODE. Another provision was eliminated which would have required community school sponsors to annually report to ODE information about operators hired by the schools they sponsor.

Operator appeal – This provision, had it remained in the bill, would have repealed current law that permits a community school operator whose contract will be terminated or not renewed by the school’s governing authority to appeal the decision to the school’s sponsor, or in some cases, to the State Board of Education, and requires the operator to replace the school’s governing authority if the operator prevails in the appeal.

Sale of school district property – Had this provision not been removed, charter schools would have been denied the right of first refusal to unneeded or unused district property in certain circumstances

Design specifications for community school buildings – Thanks to the Senate, a provision to require all community schools (except e-schools) to meet the School Facilities Commission’s classroom facility design guidelines was eliminated.

Not everyone will be happy with every provision, but this was a particularly difficult budget negotiation for a variety of reasons. Senate Finance Committee Chair John Carey (R-Wellston) described the bill and the process as “like a shotgun wedding where we have responsibilities to meet and we have to come together.” 

Difficult times produce even more difficult compromises. The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools is deeply grateful to policy-makers – particularly the Senate Majority leadership team – for preserving charter school funding and eliminating proposed changes to law aimed at crippling Ohio’s charter school movement and eliminating choice for tens of thousands of families who believe that charter schools best meet their children’s needs.

The Department of Education sections of the bill are quite lengthy and not all support documents summarizing the impact of H.B.1 are available at this time. So, stay tuned for additional information on provisions of interest to charter school leaders.

June 2009

Am. Sub. H.B. 1 applauded by charter advocates

Ohio’s charter school advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Senate’s version of the amended state budget bill — which restores funding for more than 300 charter schools – was released. “The Senate’s restoration of funding for Ohio’s charter schools provides a lifeline to more than 80,000 public school students and their families,” said Bill Sims, OAPCS president.  “It also annuls the constitutional questions raised by House bill provisions which would have cut funding for Ohio’s public charter schools by as much as $160 million in 2010.” “The Ohio Alliance understands that at the end of the day final resolution to these matters will be addressed by the conference committee,” he continued. “But we are encouraged and grateful for the leadership of Senators Harris, Carey and Cates among others for their steadfast support of equitable funding for public charter school students.”Education 

March 2009

This month, meetings with the Governor’s top policy staff and Senate President Pro Tempore Tom Niehaus were beneficial to our advocacy goals. The OAPCS strategy in these regards is simple, to use with great determination, a fact-based approach to counter the Governor’s "evidenced-based" attack on charter schools.Of particular note was the reaction by charter school opponents of the Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee to OAPCS President Bill Sims’ characterization (see testimony) of the Governor’s proposed budget and education plan as an attempt to segregate charters into "separate and unequal" status. Yes, it is discrimination. Twenty percent cuts across the board to charter school funding totaling $140 million, seventy percent cuts to e-schools, exclusion from the Ohio Instructional Quality Index, and the removal of charters from the state school foundation funding formula to a separate line item in the budget amount to nothing less than attempts to weaken charter school quality and operations to the point of incapacitation. OAPCS strongly encourages all charter schools stakeholders to join our email advocacy initiative to write to your legislators and let your voices be heard. We have been very gratified by your efforts so far. In less than two weeks, over 6,000 messages have been sent to state legislators. Be assured, legislative staff are taking note. Our goal is to double these numbers by the end of the month.

February 2009

More questions raised than answered in Governor’s budget plan

An initial review of the Ohio Office of Budget & Management (OBM) overview of proposed Department of Education funding leaves many questions unanswered regarding Governor Strickland’s biennial budget proposal and school funding "fix." Many issues will be clarified by the actual budget bill and analysis currently being written by the bipartisan Legislative Service Commission which are expected to be released next week.A press release expressing concern regarding inequities in proposed funding for charter schools was sent to media this morning.The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) will provide a more detailed overview after the House version of the proposed budget bill is released. In the meantime, the following highlights some of the many questions raised, but not answered, in the OBM overview:

  • Under the new system, traditional public schools will receive funding based on one key number (prior year average daily membership)… it appears that charters will continue to be funded based on monthly student counts

  • The Governor’s plan notes that the most critical component of any education funding system is teachers (representing 80% of districts’ directed resources) … yet the new Ohio-Instructional Quality Index component (which clearly accounts for district differences) incorrectly assumes that charter schools’ teacher salaries are equal to those in traditional public schools

  • Since charter schools do not receive a share of local tax dollars, they receive no benefits from the proposed changes to property tax revenues that will continue to fund traditional public schools

  • The Ohio-Instructional Quality Index unfairly assumes that charter schools have one "organizational unit" regardless of actual enrollment (unlike traditional public schools whose organizational units are determined based on actual student enrollment)

Executive budget documents released by the Office of Budget & Management clearly state that charter schools will NOT be provided funding for a superintendent or a treasurer.The Governor’s plan includes provisions aimed at "improving community school accountability," including:

  • Granting ODE authority and regulation over all charter schools and sponsors;

  • Eliminating first offer language on school district property sales (which requires districts to offer unused buildings to charter schools at market value before otherwise disposing of the property);

  • Requiring charters to adhere to highly qualified teacher standard; Creating performance report cards for all charters (will charter schools have two report cards, or one report card unique to the charter community?;

  • Requiring competitively bid management service contracts;

  • Prohibiting for-profit management services (this has huge impact considering the fact that nearly half of Ohio’s charter school students attend schools that utilize the services of for-profit management companies);

  • Granting ODE authority to place sponsors on probationary status or suspend sponsoring authority

  • Making unauditable language permanent law;

  • Requiring ODE to conduct an on-site visit every 5 years, permitting sponsors to use the on-site report to take action against a school or revoke sponsorship authority for failure to act;

  • Requiring charter school operators to have at least one Ohio school in at least continuous improvement;

  • Prohibiting "sponsor shopping" by charter school operators; and

  • Providing penalties for non-compliance with the assurances required of community school sponsors; technical assistance will be provided prior to any sanctions being imposed.

The Executive budget proposal will fund a number of "objectives" … for instance, supporting the "training and professional development of school district treasurers, school administrators, and school business officials." Since charter schools will NOT be provided funding for a superintendent or a treasurer, should we also assume that their training and professional development will not be funded? Does that mean that the Governor’s broad priorities and objectives simply do not apply to charter schools?The executive budget also funds an objective to "provide school districts with the necessary resources so that they may implement the Ohio School Climate guidelines and create optimal learning environments." Does the Governor believe these same resources should be provided to charter schools?Will the proposal to "provide grants to schools in school improvement status to implement school improvement strategies" also be available to charter schools? What about the other grants proposed in the budget plan?The plan calls for a new transportation formula that better aligns funding to actual service levels … no mention is made of funding for charter schools that aren’t adequately served by their local districts or that choose to provide their own transportation services to students.The Executive recommendation funds the objective of providing "assistance to districts in fiscal distress" … yet makes no mention of helping struggling charter schools return to "fiscal solvency."Clearly, additional details are needed to fully assess the impact and intent of Governor Strickland’s proposals. Look for additional information from OAPCS as details develop.

January 2009

OAPCS Responds to the State of the State Address

William J. Sims, president and CEO of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released the following statement in connection with Governor Strickland’s State of the State speech: We commend the Governor for his announced goal of going beyond tinkering to make Ohio’s educational system the best in the world with curriculum geared to helping students achieve in the 21st century economy. We also are grateful for Governor Strickland’s support for charter schools and the role they can play in reaching his goals. We look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead during legislative debate on his budget proposal. In otherwise stimulating and thoughtful comments on education, we saw as a non-sequitor the Governor’s negative comments about for-profit charter school management companies. We believe the educational policy focus should be on the real goals of excellence and accountability, and that the state cannot rule out any potential contributor to educational progress on the basis of an artificial criterion like legal form of organization. We are waiting to review the details of the Governor’s budget. Gov. Strickland’s State of the State Address (link to the video)

Education funding included in proposed federal economic stimulus package

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has released proposed legislation to advance President Obama’s economic stimulus package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. About 17 percent — more than $140 billion — of the $825 billion package is allocated to K-12 and higher education.Consistent with President Obama’s campaign promises of support, charter schools are eligible for funding under the current bill. Allocation of funds is formula-driven, most likely by individual schools’ Title 1 participation rate. It appears that funds may flow through state governors since the language does not stipulate that the allocations will be made to State Education Agencies (SEAs). Ultimately, funding will be distributed through Local Education Agencies (and directly to charter schools that are designated as their own LEAs).Ohio’s share of the proposed K-12 funding is significant, approximately: $484 million in Title 1 funds; $499 million in Special Education funds; $37 million in Education Technology funds; and, $521 million in Construction (renovation, rewiring and renewal) funds. Ohio would also receive a share of the total $25-50 million allocated for credit enhancement. The next step in the process will be to reconcile differences between the proposed House legislation and a U.S. Senate companion bill. Congress has expressed its intent to swiftly pass an economic stimulus bill to be sent to the President for his signature by mid-February, but it’s difficult to predict how smooth and swift the process will be.OAPCS will follow the legislative process and provide updates as additional details are available. We will aggressively pursue fair allocation to Ohio’s charter schools. For more information, click here.

December 2008

Governor’s "Conversation on Education" continues Schoolfunding forums to be held in six locations

Governor Ted Strickland continues efforts to reform Ohio’s education system, as pledged during his ’06 election campaign, and has announced that he will host six regional school funding forums across the state in November and December.The forums will serve as an opportunity to garner feedback on Ohio’s school funding system before the governor introduces his education reform and school funding proposal early next year.Throughout the summer, Gov. Strickland held 11 "Conversation on Education" forums that focused on six principles for education reform outlined in his 2008 State of the State address and sought education reform policy ideas from participants representing all education stakeholders.These discussions are critically important, with significant potential impact on future legislation, including the 2009 budget bill. Charter school advocates, including the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS), have been engaged in dialogue with the governor and his administration throughout the process, and invite other charter school supporters – students, parents, teachers, principals, board members, sponsors and others – to work with us to ensure that our voices are heard! Individuals and organizations representing the "traditional" public education perspective – including school districts and the powerful teachers unions – will be very involved, and it is vital that the charter school perspective be vigorously presented.Next stepThere are two key ways to help …

  1. Participate in a forum Submit the following information to cwest@oapcs.org to volunteer to attend one of the six upcoming forums: Your name; Your title or role (student, principal, board member, etc.); The name of your school/organization; Your email address; and The location of the forum you’d like to attend. Charter school stakeholders will have limited seats at each forum. Participants will be selected to ensure that various perspectives are offered. A confirmation email will be sent to each member of the charter "delegations" with location information and general school funding talking points. The governor’s office will also communicate directly with confirmed participants.

  2. Coordinate or participate in a local "watch party." Watch parties represent another good opportunity to provide input. All of the forums can be viewed via web cast and some will be broadcast on local PBS television stations. Participants can view forums, participate in follow up discussions and submit feedback to the Strickland Administration. It’s important that charter school supporters make sure their voices are heard loud and clear through this process. Details on how to host a watch party are available at www.conversationoneducation.org. Let OAPCS know if you host a watch party by sending an email to cwest@oapcs.org.

So, when and where?School funding forums are scheduled as follows:Nov. 20, 4:30-6 pm – ColumbusDec. 11, 4:30-6 pm – ClevelandDec. 12, 4:30-6 pm – ToledoDec. 18, 4:30-6 pm – MansfieldDec. 19, 4:30-6 pm – CincinnatiDec. 20, 2:30-4 pm – AthensFor more information on charter school involvement, contact Catherine West, Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, at cwest@oapcs.org or 614-744-2266, ext. 203.

July 2008

Governor engages Ohioans in "Conversation on Education"
Charter school stakeholders urged to participate in regional meetings

Governor Ted Strickland, who has pledged to reform Ohio’s education system, is engaging stakeholder groups in dialogue focused on "the mission for public education" and six broad principles. The Administration will also provide opportunities for additional stakeholders and the general public to offer input on specific education policy ideas. These discussions are critically important, with significant potential impact on future legislation, including the 2009 budget bill. Charter school lobbyists/advocates have come together with the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) to engage in dialogue with the Strickland Administration, and encourages other charter school supporters – students, parents, teachers, principals, board members, sponsors and others – to work together to ensure that our voices are heard!

What’s next?

The next step in the process is a series of 12 "Governor’s Conversation on Education" forums to be held across the state. These regional events will give local citizens the opportunity to "vet proposed ideas on creating a system of education that is innovative, personalized and linked to economic prosperity in Ohio." Participation in these forums, which will be broadcast on local PBS stations and streamed live on the web, is by invitation only, and participation is very limited. The charter school stakeholder group that has been engaged in discussions with the Administration is responsible for organizing community school participation in these regional forums; OAPCS is coordinating the solicitation of candidates from schools not represented by one of the professional lobbyists. Individuals and organizations representing the "traditional" public education perspective – including school districts and the powerful teachers unions – will be very involved, and it is vital that the charter school perspective be vigorously presented. So, when and where will the forums will held? The forums are scheduled in each of the Ohio Department of Development’s 12 economic regions in the coming weeks.July 22 (4:30-6 pm) — COLUMBUS Region 1: Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Licking, Logan, Madison, Pickaway & Union counties July 23 (5-6:30 pm) – AKRON Region 9: Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit & Wayne countiesJuly 28 (4:30-6 pm) – CINCINNATI Region 5: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton & Warren countiesJuly 29 (4:30-6 pm) – DAYTON Region 4: Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble & Shelby countiesAug. 6 (4:30-6 pm) – CLEVELAND Region 8: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake & Lorain counties Aug. 11 (4:30-6 pm) – ZANESVILLE Region 10: Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum & Tuscarawas counties Aug. 12 (5-6:30 pm) – CHILLICOTHE Region 7: Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto & Vinton countiesAug. 15 (4-5:30 pm) – LIMA Region: Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam & Van Wert counties Aug. 18 (5-6:30 pm) – MARIETTA Region 11: Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry & Washington countiesAug. 20 (5-6:30 pm) – TOLEDORegion 2: Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood & Williams counties Sept. 3 (4-5:30 pm) – YOUNGSTOWN Region 12: Ashtabula, Mahoning & Trumbull countiesSept. 15 (4:30-6 pm) – MANSFIELD Region 6: Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca & Wyandot counties

How can charter supporters help?

There are two ways that charter school supporters can make a difference:

  1. Participate in a local forum Submit the name(s) of candidates, the charter school organization they are affiliated with, their role within the organization, contact info & why their perspective is important to the discussion to cwest@oapcs.org as quickly as possible. Participants must live in the district in which the forum they attend is held, and must be "grassroots, on-the-ground, front-line" folks engaged in the charter school movement. Participants must also be comfortable speaking on the issues of school choice, funding and accountability (to ensure consistent messaging, general talking points will be provided). The charter school stakeholder group, with the organizational support of the OAPCS, will help identify the limited number of representatives for each of the 12 events.

  2. Coordinate and/or participate in a local "watch party" (which will also provide important opportunities for grassroots charter school input to Gov. Strickland) The Governor’s Office encourages "watch parties" – groups gathered together to watch the broadcast/webcast and to participate in facilitated follow up discussions, submitting feedback to the Administration. Again, various stakeholder groups (including districts and unions) will be involved, with the Administration encouraging them to host watch parties in each of the 12 districts. It’s important that charter school supporters make sure their voices are also heard loud and clear through this process. The Governor’s Office will provide additional information by mid-July.

May 2008

Ohio House of Representatives Issues Charter School Week Resolution

The Ohio House of Representatives issued a resolution on Wednesday, May 7, 2008, recognizing "National Charter Schools Week," in Ohio May 5-9, 2008. The language of the resolution was gratifying for community charter school students, parents, teachers and school leaders. Bill Sims, president of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, received the resolution on the House floor from Speaker of the House Jon Husted and then briefly addressed the Ohio House of Representatives saying that, "The community charter school movement in Ohio takes seriously its role and responsibility in ensuring high-quality alternatives in Ohio’s educational reform." Joining Mr. Sims on the House floor for the occasion, representing all charter schools across the state, were leaders and students from the Millennium Community School of Columbus.

Roberts introduces anti-charter school legislation

Last week, Senate Education Committee ranking minority member Tom Roberts (D-Dayton) held a press conference to announce the introduction of three bills aimed at "greatly strengthening transparency and accountability standards in the community school system while also empowering communities and districts to work together to promote economic development."Senator Roberts was flanked by key "stakeholders" – the Ohio Education Association, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators – as he outlined the trio of anti-charter school legislative proposals. According to Sen. Roberts, S.B. 331 would hold community schools to the same standards for student accountability and teacher qualifications as public schools. The legislation would also require school districts that enroll students who previously attended community schools to: determine why the community school was originally chosen; determine the student’s reason for leaving the community school; and, require the Ohio Dept. of Education to compile and post this data on its Web site. S.B. 332 would extend public records and public audit laws currently applied to community schools to all sponsors and operators. The legislation would also prohibit community school sponsors from renewing contracts with schools that owe money to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and would "suspend" schools found to have arrearages of more than one year’s premiums.Roberts’ third legislative proposal, S.B. 333, would repeal provisions of current law that gives community schools the right of first refusal on the market value purchase of unused district buildings, "enabling local communities to partner with school districts in economic development activities." As the ranking minority member of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Roberts has requested swift consideration of the legislative proposals. Although it is highly unlikely that Sen. Roberts’ bills will receive strong support in the Republican-controlled Senate and House, initial hearings have been scheduled for today on two of the three. While there is no need for serious concern that the bills will become law during the 127th General Assembly, they do serve to remind charter school supporters of determined and ongoing efforts by critics to increase charter school regulations.

January 2008

OAPCS Memo on Dropout Recovery Provisions

This memo, released on Jan. 4, 2008, outlines the history and context for dropout recovery performance standards in anticipation of a stakeholders meeting on Jan. 15, 2008. The State Board of Education must make legislative recommendations for community schools that operate dropout programs eligible for a waiver by March 30, 2008.