• Maricopa Unified School District
     
    Charter School Affiliates
     
    MUSD has authorized three Charter School Affiliates (Five Schools); CAVA-Maricopa K-12, CAVA-Insight 9-12,  Peak to Peak Charter, Blue Ridge Academy TK-12 (Inspire) and Heartland Charter TK-12 (Inspire)
     
     
    Overview of Charter Schools in California:
    In 1992, California became the second state in the nation to adopt public charter school legislation. As of the beginning of the 2018–19 school year, 1306 charter schools and seven all-charter districts are operating in California. Of the individual active charter schools:
    • Approximately 84 percent are start-up schools, and the remainder are conversions of pre-existing public schools.
    • Approximately 74 percent are classroom- or site-based, and the remainder are either partially or exclusively nonclassroom-based (independent study).

    Charter schools are located throughout the state in 54 of California’s 58 counties and in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Student populations are diverse and tend to reflect the student populations of the districts in which the charter schools are located. As of the 2017–18 school year, the number of students enrolled in charter schools was approximately 628,849, or approximately ten percent of the public school student population in California.

    Charter schools are subject to the following conditions:

    • An existing private school may not be converted to a charter school.
    • A charter school must be nonsectarian.
    • A charter school may not discriminate, nor can it charge tuition.
    • No pupil can be required to attend a charter school, nor can teachers be required to work in a charter school.
    • A charter school must have highly credentialed teachers in all core subjects. Teachers in charter schools shall hold a Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document equivalent to that which a teacher in other public schools would be required to hold.
    • Charter schools must admit all students who wish to attend the school; however, if the number of students exceeds the school's capacity, attendance shall be determined by a public random drawing. Certain attendance preferences are available under state law.

    California Education Codes for Authorization of Charters:

    EC Section 47605(b) External link opens in new window or tab. specifies that a local governing board must hold a public hearing for a proposed charter within 30 days of receipt of the completed petition, and, within 60 days from receipt of the petition, either approve or deny the charter. This time line may be extended by 30 days if both parties agree to the extension. EC Section 47652(c) External link opens in new window or tab. requires that a charter school commence instruction between July 1 and September 30.

    Each charter petition must contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of each of 16 required elements. The 16 elements, as specified in EC Section 47605(b)(5)(A-P) External link opens in new window or tab., are:

    1. A description of the educational program of the school. If the proposed charter school will serve high school pupils, a description of how the charter school will inform parents about the transferability of courses to other public high schools and the eligibility of courses to meet college entrance requirements must be included in the charter petition.
    2. The measurable pupil outcomes identified for use by the school.
    3. The method by which pupil progress in meeting those pupil outcomes is to be measured.
    4. The schools governance structure, including parental involvement.
    5. The qualifications to be met by individuals employed by the school.
    6. Procedures to ensure health and safety of pupils and staff.
    7. The means by which the school will achieve racial and ethnic balance among its pupils, reflective of the general population residing in the district.
    8. Admission requirements, if applicable.
    9. The manner in which annual financial audits will be conducted, and the manner in which audit exceptions and deficiencies will be resolved.
    10. The procedures by which pupils may be suspended or expelled.
    11. Provisions for employee coverage under the State Teachers Retirement System, the Public Employees Retirement System, or federal social security.
    12. The public school alternatives for pupils residing within the district who choose not to attend charter schools.
    13. A description of the rights of any employee of the school district upon leaving the employment of the school district to work in a charter school, and of any rights of return to the school district after employment at a charter school.
    14. A dispute resolution process.
    15. A declaration whether or not the charter school will be the exclusive public school employer of the charter school employees.
    16. The procedures to be used if the charter school closes.

    EC Section 47605(b) External link opens in new window or tab. specifies that a local educational agency shall not deny the approval of a charter petition unless it makes written factual findings, specific to the particular petition, that:

    1. The charter school presents an unsound educational program.
    2. The petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition.
    3. The petition does not contain the required number of signatures.
    4. The petition does not contain an affirmation of each of the conditions described in EC Section 47605(d) External link opens in new window or tab..
    5. The petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all of the 16 required elements of the petition.
     
    Maricopa Unified School District Charter Affiliates and Oversight:
     
    All five current charter schools that submitted a charter petition for consideration, fully met the Education Codes and were approved by Maricopa Unified School District Board of Education per the code Section 47605(b)
     
    Maricopa Unified School District provides oversight for each Charter School per Education Code, MUSD Board Policies, and Approved Charter Legal Documents.
     
     CA Education Code for Charter Oversight: EC Section 47604.32a

    (a) Each chartering authority, in addition to any other duties imposed by this part, shall do all of the following with respect to each charter school under its authority:
       (1) Identify at least one staff member as a contact person for the charter school.
       (2) Visit each charter school at least once annually.
       (3) Ensure that each charter school under its authority complies with all reports required of charter schools by law, including the local control and accountability plan and annual update to the local control and accountability plan required pursuant to Section 47606.5.
       (4) Monitor the fiscal condition of each charter school under its authority.
       (5) Provide timely notification to the department if any of the following circumstances occur or will occur with regard to a charter school for which it is the chartering authority:
         (A) A renewal of the charter is granted or denied.
         (B) The charter is revoked.
         (C) The charter school will cease operation for any reason.

    In addition to the oversight responsibilities described above, “supervision” includes providing the charter school with general guidance and assistance on various issues, such as funding and compliance. A charter school may opt to contract with its charter authorizing entity or other sources to provide additional services such as administrative, insurance, maintenance, payroll, etc., on a fee-for-service basis. A charter authorizing entity may establish an agreement with the charter school regarding the format, frequency, and scope of oversight activities.

     
    MUSD Board Policies for Charter Schools:  
              0420.4 - Charter School Authorization (BP)
              0420.41 - Charter School Oversight (E)
              0420.42 - Charter School Renewal (BP)

              0420.43 - Charter School Revocation (BP)
             

    In order to comply with Ed Code 47604 five requirements and to provide a high level of oversight, Maricopa Unified School District provides the following Charter support and oversight:
     
    1. Identify at least one staff member as a contact person for the charter school:                                                                                                                                                          
    MUSD has a team of trained charter oversight members to support each charter school:

    -Superintendent provides oversight and support for Board, administration, leadership, governance, personnel, legal, fiscal, compliance, and general guidance and assistance on various issues.

    -Asst. Superintendent, Business Service provides oversight and support for fiscal, special education, categorical programs, and food services.

    -Administrative Asst. to the Supt., Human Resources provides oversight and support for records and documentation, payroll, and personnel-related areas.

    -A District employee is present at all Board meetings for our two larger virtual charter school affilates. The superintendent provides direct support to Peak-to-Peak Charter Board.

    -Schools Services of California, a statewide business services firm, is contracted by the District to provide support to the District for financial oversight of the Charters.

    -Schools Legal Services, a Kern County and statewide legal firm, is contracted by the District for Charter legal document reviews and other legal charter support.

    Annually the District Charter Oversight Team attends training from Charter Accountablility Resourse and Support Network's (CARSNET) "Charter Oversight Bootcamp" and Annual Charter School Authorizer's Conference.  Team members have also attended training conducted by Schools Services of California (SSC), California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), and Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) on various topics to support our charter oversight.  

    2. Visit each charter school at least annually:

    MUSD conducts the following communication and site visits with each charter:

    -The superintendent conducts monthly "check-in" phone conferences with charter administration.

    -The superintendent and team conducts onsite visits at least once annually(see #3 for details) and in many cases more site visits are conducted per year.

    -The District provides phone and in-person support and oversight as needed.

    -A District employee is present at all Charter Board meetings for our two larger virtual charter school affilates. 

    3. Ensure that each charter school under its authority complies with all reports required of charter schools by law:

    MUSD conducts yearly onsite compliance audits using a comprehrensive checklist tool(FCMAT). FCMAT provides a comprehrensive Charter Oversight Checklist entitled, Annual Charter Oversight Checklist that the district uses to guide the audit during the onsite visits.  This detailed checklist includes the following areas:

    Each year, the District conducts onsite complaince audits using a comprehensive checklist tool. Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) provides a comprehensive Charter Oversight Checklist that the district uses to guide the audit during the onsite visits.  This detailed checklist includes the following areas:

    -General Requirements (State and Federal Reporting):

         -Authorizer Requirements

         -Charter School Education Code Requirements

         -Memorandum of Understandings

    -Fiscal and Business Operations:

          -Student Attendance Accounting

         -Calendar with Instructional days/minutes

         -Student Independent Study Attendance Accounting

         -Cash Receipts and processes

         -Disbursements

         -Records Retention

         -Payroll

         -Budget, Accounting and Financial Reporting, including cash flow projections

         -Independent Audit

         -Fiscal Condition

         -Equipment Inventory

    -Educational Program and Ongoing Assessment:

           -Educational Program, including LCAP goals and services

         -Services to Special Populations (Special Education/Section 504)

         -Curricular Materials (Common Core State Standards/Non-Faith Based/ELD)

         -Professional Development & Teacher Qualifications

         -Assessments and Reporting (CAASPP/SARC)

    -Facilities and Operations:

            -Adequacy to Meet Educational Program Requirements

          -Certficate of Occupancy/Permits

          -Charter School Revolving Loan Funding

    -Governance:

           -Organizational Management

         -Governing Board Responsibilities

         -Governing Board Capacity/Composition

         -Officers/Bylaws

         -Role Clarity

         -Board Meetings

         -Parent and Staff Involvement

    -Personnel:

           -All Employees-Policies/Procedures

           -Collective Bargaining (as needed)

         -Certificated Employees-Policies/Procedures

         -Classified Employees-Policies/Procedures

    -Student Services:

             -Admissions/Enrollment Procedures

          -Discipline

          -Health and Safety

          -Parent Notifications/Handbooks

    The team reviews policies, practices, and records to support each of the compliance areas with the charter's adminstration. This day-long visitation is followed up with document verfication. A report is completed listing any areas out of compliance and in need of further action by the charter.

    4. Monitor the fiscal condition of each charter school under its authority:

    EC 47604.33. 

    (a) Each charter school shall annually prepare and submit the following reports to its chartering authority and the county superintendent of schools, or only to the county superintendent of schools if the county board of education is the chartering authority:

       (1) On or before July 1, a preliminary budget. For a charter school in its first year of operation, the information submitted pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 47605 satisfies this requirement.

       (2) On or before July 1, a local control and accountability plan and an annual update to the local control and accountability plan required pursuant to Section 47606.5.

       (3) On or before December 15, an interim financial report. This report shall reflect changes through October 31.

       (4) On or before March 15, a second interim financial report. This report shall reflect changes through January 31. 

       (5) On or before September 15, a final unaudited report for the full prior year.

    (b) The chartering authority shall use any financial or other information it obtains from the charter school, including, but not limited to, the reports required by this section, to perform the duties described in subdivision (a) of Section 47604.32, including monitoring the fiscal condition of the charter school.

    MUSD Conducts Financial Oversight:

    -The District provides oversight of budget, accounting, and financial reports per the items listed in Ed. Code 47604.33 (above). Each Charter provides the documents for review and, as needed, approval. Many other documents are also requested for District oversight review. The District uses FCMAT's Annual Charter Oversight Checklist to provide oversight for many other fiscal and business operations and practices. These include, but are not limited to, Board business policies, attendance accounting, independent study accounting, handling of cash, disbursements, record retention, payroll, equipment inventory, independent audit documents, and financial condition.

    -A reveiw of the LCAP document is conducted annually.

    -The District contracts with Schools Services of California, a highly respected statewide business consulting firm, to provide direct support to the District for financial oversight of the charter schools.

    5. Provide timely notification to the CDE if the charter is revoked or if the charter school will cease operation for any reason:

     -The District superintendent provides communication to CDE's Charter Divison as needed on all charter related issues. This includes renewal or denial of a charter, charter revocations and/or if a charter school will cease operation for any reason per Education Code.  The District updates the CDE OPUS CDS website as needed.
     

    New changes to Charter Schools Act-2019

    After years of stalemated debate between charter school interests and the traditional education interest groups (school labor and management organizations), 2019 saw the most significant changes to the Charter Schools Act in its approximately twenty-year existence with the enactment of three bills, Assembly Bills (AB) 1505 and 1507 and Senate Bill (SB) 126.

    The Governor signed the following charter school bills:

    • AB 1505 (O'Donnell) - Charter schools: petitions and renewals.

      This bill revises and recasts numerous provisions relating to the submission of petitions to establish charter schools, the appeal to county boards of education and to the state board of decisions of the governing boards of school districts to deny approval or renewal of charter schools, and the revocation of charters by chartering authorities.

      Chapter 486, Statutes of 2019

    • AB 1507 (Smith) - Charter schools: location: resource center.

    AB 1507 deletes the authority of a charter school to locate outside the jurisdiction or geographic boundaries of the chartering school district because the charter school has attempted to locate a single site or facility to house the entire program, but a site or facility is unavailable in the area in which the charter school chooses to locate, or the site is needed for temporary use during a construction or expansion project.

    Chapter 487, Statutes of 2019

    • SB 126 (Leyva) - Charter schools.

    This bill requires charter schools and entities managing a charter school to comply with the same conflict of interest and public meeting laws as traditional public schools, including the Brown Act, Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, California Public Records Act, Government Code 1090, and the Political Reform Act. The bill also requires charter schools or entities managing charter schools to hold meetings in specified locations and to audio record and/or video record all governing board meetings and post the recordings on the charter school’s website. Chapter 3, Statutes of 201

    The bill containing the most significant reforms was AB 1505 by Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), which made reforms to the charter school authorization and appeals processes and to teacher credentialing. Specifically, AB 1505 made the following changes, which take effect July 1, 2020:

    Authorization process. School districts and county boards will now have 60 days after receiving a charter petition to hold a public hearing on the petition (up from 30 days) and 90 days after receipt to either grant or deny the petition (up from 60 days). Charter petitioners must also now be given equivalent time at the public hearing to respond to staff recommendations and findings regarding their petition.

    Fiscal impact. An authorizer can now, when reviewing a petition for a new charter school, or an existing charter that is expanding sites or grade-levels, consider how the charter school would impact the community and the neighborhood schools, including fiscal impact.

    Districts in fiscal distress. An authorizer can now deny a charter school when the school district in which the charter school would be located is in fiscal distress, as determined by the county superintendent of schools in consultation with FCMAT.

    Material revisions. If a petitioner makes a material revision to its petition while on appeal to either the county board or the State Board of Education (SBE), the petition must be remanded back down and reconsidered by the school district board or county board, respectively.

    Limited State Board role. The SBE can now only review appeals for whether or not the school district or county board abused its discretion when hearing the petition. Additionally, the SBE can no longer authorize charter schools and any charter school currently authorized by the SBE will have its authorization transitioned to its school district or county office upon renewal.

    Renewals. Charter renewals will now be decided according to a tiered renewal system tied to the state’s school accountability system:

    Authorizes renewals of five to seven years for high performing charter schools (Blue and Green on the dashboard or performing above the state average)

    Authorizes renewals of five years for middle performing charter schools

    Authorizes renewals of two years for low performing charter schools (Red and Orange on the dashboard or performing below the state average), if the authorizer makes written factual finding that the school is taking meaningful steps to address the underlying causes of the low performance and those steps are included in a written plan adopted by the charter’s governing board

    Teacher credentialing. Beginning July 1, 2020, new charter school teachers will be required to hold a certificate of clearance and the required credential for their assignment. Current charter schools will have until July 1, 2025 to comply with the credentialing requirement.

    Differentiated support to charters. County offices of education (COEs) are now required to provide differentiated assistance to charter schools. (Note: The Newsom Administration has pledged to provide an appropriation in the 2020-21 budget to address this increase in workload.)

    Non-classroom-based charter schools. Establishes a two-year moratorium on non-classroom-based charter schools, until January 1, 2022.

    AB 1507, by Assembly Member Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), removed the ability of charter schools to locate outside the geographic boundaries of the authorizing school district, with limited exceptions and grandfathering provisions. Specifically, the bill made the following changes:

    Charter School Location. Eliminates the ability to authorize a charter school located outside the boundaries of the authorizing school district or county.

    Grandfathering for existing charter schools. Authorizes a charter school that established one site outside the boundaries of the chartering school district, but within the county, before January 1, 2020, to continue to operate the site until the charter school submits a request for the renewal of its charter petition, and requires approval in writing from the school district where the site is operating prior to submitting the renewal.

    New vs. Continuing Charter School. Specifies that CDE shall regard as a continuing charter school for all purposes a charter school that was granted approval of its petition, that was providing educational services to pupils prior to October 1, 2019, and is authorized by a different chartering authority due to changes to this paragraph that took effect January 1, 2020.

    Exemptions. Specifically exempts charter schools located on federal or tribal land and exempts a charter school located in Senator Portantino’s Senate district. The bill also exempts specific charter schools that relocated due to a Presidential declaration of a major disaster from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2019. The bill also preserves the exemption under current law for charter schools that exclusively provide instruction as part of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, federally affiliated Youth Build programs, federal job corps, the California Conservation Corps, or a juvenile court school.

    In March of 2019, Governor Newsom also signed into law SB 126 by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino). The bill contained reforms to charter school governance and transparency laws in order to make them more similar to traditional school agencies. Specifically, the bill made the following changes:

    Conflict of Interest Laws. Requires charter schools and entities managing a charter school to comply with the same conflict of interest and public meeting laws as traditional public schools, including the Brown Act, Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, California Public Records Act, Government Code 1090, and the Political Reform Act.

    Meeting Recordings. Requires the governing body of a charter school to audio record and/or video record all governing board meetings and to post the recordings on each charter school’s website.

    Governing Body Membership. An employee of a charter school is not disqualified from serving as a member of the governing body of the charter school but must abstain from voting on, or influencing or attempting to influence another member of the governing body, regarding all matters uniquely affecting that member’s employment.

    Meeting Locations. Places additional meeting location requirements on the governing bodies of charter schools or the governing body of an entity managing, depending on the type of, and number of, schools:

    • Single charter schools: Must meet within the physical boundaries of the county in which the charter school(s) is located and establish a two-way teleconference location at each schoolsite.

    • Entities managing one or more charter schools located in the same county: Must meet within the physical boundaries of the county in which the charter school is located and establish two-way teleconference locations at each schoolsite and each resource center.

    • Entities managing two or more charter schools that are not located in the same county: Must meet within the physical boundaries of the county in which the greatest number of students enrolled in those entity’s charter schools reside and establish two-way teleconference locations at each schoolsite and resource center.

    • Nonclassroom-based charter schools without facilities or who operate one or more resource centers: Must meet within the physical boundaries of the county in which the greatest number of students who are enrolled in the charter school reside and establish two-way teleconference locations at each resource center.

    written by Capitol Advisors Group www.capitoladvisors.org