By Katrina Kinman
KSBA Director of Policy and eMeeting Services
I recently attended the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Leadership Conference in Phoenix. KSBA staff attorney Whitney A. Crowe also attended, along with a Kentucky contingent from other agencies, including the Kentucky Department of Education, Jefferson County Public Schools, the Louisville mayor’s office and a Kentucky superintendent.
What did we all have in common? A quest to learn more about how successful public charter schools operate and what that will look like in Kentucky. The NACSA conference is organized by authorizers for authorizers, so it was the perfect place to start. The sessions were informative and provided opportunities to learn about authorizer roles and the due diligence needed to ensure that quality public charter schools have the capacity to successfully educate students. It also enabled us to network with other authorizers and share resources.
Impact on Board Policy
Public charter school authorization is now a reality in Kentucky after HB 520 was passed by the 2017 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin. How does this impact board policy? Per KRS 160.1590, a local school board, or a collaborative of local school boards, and the mayors of Lexington and Louisville are the authorizers. An authorizer is defined as the “entity that reviews, approves, or denies charter applications, enters into charter contracts with applicants, oversees public charter schools, and renews, does not renew or revokes charter contracts in Kentucky.” KRS 160.1594 requires the authorizer to “establish and maintain policies and practices consistent with the principles and professional standards for authorizers of public charter schools.” These include standards relating to:
• Organizational capacity and infrastructure.
• Soliciting and evaluating applications.
• Performance contracting.
• Ongoing public charter school oversight and evaluation.
• Charter approval, renewal and revocation decision-making.
Under the proposed regulation 701 KAR 8:030, authorizers are required to create policies and publish policies and procedures on their website. KSBA policy staff will work with policy contacts in districts to assist with this process. The proposed regulation lists these as some of the required topics for policies and procedures:
• A rubric for evaluation of charter applications;
• Any rubric for evaluation of charter contract performance for renewal;
• Circumstances that shall result in automatic revocation or nonrenewal of a charter contract;
• Timeline for timely notification of the prospect of revocation or nonrenewal of the charter contract;
• Deadline and requirements for a charter school’s opportunity to respond; and
• Process for appeal of decisions.
Out of the 173 local school districts in Kentucky, all but one subscribe to the KSBA policy update and maintenance service. As part of this service, legal and policy staff review legislative and regulatory changes for impact on policy. Looking ahead to the 2018 Annual Update, we have already identified new policy areas that will need to be created related to charter schools, as well as existing policies that will need to be revised based upon these changes.
The proposed regulations will also impact annual training requirements for authorizers, whether or not they expect to receive any charter school applications. Once the requirements are finalized, board policy on school board member training hours will also need to be updated. Whether that training is competency based or based on annual hours, it will represent training for local school board members on top of the current mandated training hours in statute.
A common theme at the NACSA conference was relationship building to establish quality public charter schools. By networking with staff at KDE, KSBA has an opportunity to provide our members information on the charter school regulations as they go through the regulatory process and how they will impact local boards of education. Board members will get a chance to learn more about this firsthand from Earl Simms, KDE’s Division of Charter Schools director, who will speak at the KSBA Winter Symposium, Dec. 1–2 in Louisville. I encourage board members and policy wonks like me to attend.