Author: Senator Dan Patrick
Relating to the establishment, operation, and funding of open- enrollment charter schools.
1. LIFT THE CAP AND ALLOW EFFECTIVE CHARTER SCHOOLS TO REPLICATE
• The current cap on opening new charter schools needs to be lifted to meet the growing demand for charter school education in Texas. Also, schools with sustained success should be able to replicate through a streamlined process. An estimated 90,000 Texas students attend charter schools with 16,000 students currently on waiting lists.
• SB 1830: Section 1 – Raises by 20 more charter schools each year, the cap for open enrollment charters the State Board of Education is authorized to grant. Allows charter holders to establish new campuses if at least 75 percent of existing campuses are rated academically acceptable or higher. Section 5 requires charters that expand under Section 1 to notify the Commissioner, the Board of Trustees of local school districts and the Legislature.
2. FAIR MEASUREMENT OF DROPOUT RATES
• The state accountability system should include measurement of dropout/completion rates, attributing those rates to charter schools only after students have attended 85 school days. The current law counts a student as a drop-out even if they have only spent one day on a particular campus. Current law also allows a student to be counted as a drop-out at multiple schools.
• SB 1830: Section 3 – Provides that a student is included in dropout or completion rate computations for purposes of Chapter 39 only if they have been enrolled in the campus for 85 days or more.
3. INCREASE FACILITY FUNDING & CLOSE THE FUNDING GAP
• Charter schools are at an unfair and inequitable disadvantage regarding facilities. A brand new report by The Institute for Public School Initiatives at UT System states that the total revenue per pupil (based on enrollment) is approximately $1,200 less for charter schools students.
• Charter schools are ineligible for the Instructional Facilities Allotment and the Existing Debt Allotment, the only two state programs to help public schools meet the cost of providing facilities. Charter schools do not have access to a local tax base and are not eligible for the Permanent School Fund bond guaranty.
• SB 1830: Section 4 – Provides a new campus capacity allotment for open enrollment charters that are rated academically acceptable or above. The allotment is not more than $1,000 per student in enrollment and not less than $500. This allotment is subject to appropriation. If the appropriation is insufficient to cover all schools, the Commissioner is directed to pro-rate the amount for each charter. Funds may only be used for operations and facilities.
4. ALLOW ISDs TO CO-LOCATE WITH CHARTER SCHOOLS
• Co-location fulfills the central goals of public charters to create innovative learning opportunities within the public school system. Charter schools offer modern and constructive teaching methods that can potentially be replicated in the broader public school system to benefit all students. To encourage co-location, clear incentives for ISDs must be provided.
• Charter schools have limited options for facilities unlike traditional school districts that often have empty space that could be utilized.
• SB 1830: Section 6 – Allows a school district that leases space to an open enrollment charter school to have academic performance data from the students enrolled in the charter combined with the data from the students enrolled at the campus. Provides criteria for the agreement executed between the district and the charter. Provides that the charter school receives the greater of the amount the charter would receive under chapter 12, or the amount the district would be entitled to under chapter 41 and 42.