Earlier today the House Education – K-12 Committee approved H.B. 219, Charter School Omnibus, along with several other bills of interest to charter operators. To remain viable, these bill must pass the full House before the crossover deadline this Thursday, May 4.
H.B. 219 Summary
We are pleased that this important bill has made it out of the Education Committee. The Coalition has advocated for an aggressive legislative agenda this session, and our team has been working hard to secure passage of H.B. 219. The latest version of H.B. 219 includes a long list of high priority policy changes that will benefit public charter schools. Unfortunately, it does not include the fair funding provision we hoped for. So, in this new version of the bill, we got some—but not all—of what we wanted. That’s how politics works; negotiation is an inevitable part of getting legislation passed. Know that our work to push for fair funding and charter autonomy continues full steam ahead.
What’s in the latest version of H.B. 219? The bill:
- Outlaws impact statements from local school districts for charter applications, renewals, amendments, or terminations
- Specifies that a charter school’s academic performance for targeted subgroups must be judged in comparison to the academic outcomes for the same student subgroups in a district
- Eliminates the 30% enrollment cap for schools that are not low-performing
- Permits charter schools to admit out-of-state and foreign exchange students, and charge these students tuition
- Allows an admission preference for military families
- Prohibits local school districts from discriminating against charter school students in admission to any district school or special program
- Allows county commissioners to provide capital funds to charter schools
- Expresses the General Assembly’s intention for comparable per pupil funding: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to ensure that State and local funds for students attending charter schools shall be provided in a manner that results in per-pupil funding approximately equal to that provided for students attending other public school units.”
- Provides for charter schools to be paid by the state based on actual enrollment, rather than being limited by the July estimate. Specifically, the bill states that charters shall be paid based on “the number of students actually enrolled in the school, up to the maximum authorized enrollment …”
- Requires that the State Board of Education determine classifications for interscholastic athletics at public charter and nonpublic schools based on the “classification of the school or schools that the largest percentage of the student body of that school would have been assigned to attend” in the district. This is new language that was not in the initial version of H.B. 219, and the Coalition is working to have it removed.
What isn’t in this version of H.B. 219?
- The authorization for charter schools to adopt a micro school program has been removed.
- The updated bill also removes the explicit fair funding requirement, reflected in Section 7. (c) of Part 7 of the original bill. This provision would have required the local district to transfer to a charter school “an amount equal to the per pupil share of the local current expense fund of the local school administrative unit for the fiscal year” within 30 days of receipt. We pushed hard for this provision–and will continue our fight for fair funding in future legislative advocacy efforts.
Standardizing local payments to charter schools
Our work to secure fair funding for charter schools continues on multiple fronts. For instance, we are continuing our collaboration with leaders at the Department of Public Instruction to standardize local payments, ensuring that public schools in our state use the same process and forms. We anticipate that the new standardized system will be fully operational for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. This system will streamline the process and ensure transparency. In addition, it will also create important infrastructure for the transfer of funds as we continue our work to secure more equitable funding at the local level.
Removal of Part II in H.B. 823, Choose Your School, Choose Your Future
Today the House Education-K-12 Committee also removed Part II of H.B. 823, Choose Your School, Choose Your Future. Part II in the original version of this bill, which largely addresses the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, would have required all public school units to offer a three-year pathway to high school graduation. Charter operators had expressed a number of concerns about the impacts of this provision on their capacity to innovate at the high school level. The Coalition pushed hard for the removal of Part II from this bill, and we are pleased it was taken out of the version the committee approved.
H.B. 618, Charter School Review Board
Finally, the House Ed Committee also approved H.B. 618, Charter School Review Board–a bill the Coalition actively supports. Last week, the Coalition wrote a letter to committee members, urging approval of the bill and noting that it will help streamline and expedite the process for charter applications and renewals.