Now that charter schools are officially part of Kentucky’s system of K-12 public education, it is likely that teachers, parents, school administrators, community members, public organizations and nonprofit entities will be eager to put their innovative education strategies to work for students throughout the Bluegrass State.

After exploring the basics of Kentucky’s charter school legislation (H.B. 520), this informative series shifts its focus to school applicant requirements.

The formal process begins with a school application, which under the law must address a number of specific details aimed at ensuring school success. Applications must be submitted simultaneously to the proposed school authorizer and the Kentucky State Board of Education, and must address the following:

  • Mission and vision statements for the proposed school, including the targeted student population and the community to be served;
  • A description of the school’s proposed academic programs aligned with state learning standards and consistent with the Legislature’s guidance on appropriate purposes, including improved student learning, use of different, high-quality teaching models, and closing of achievement gaps (as outlined in section 2 of H.B. 520), as well as instructional methods that support successful implementation;
  • Student achievement goals and methods for evaluating whether students have attained the necessary skills and knowledge;
  • An explanation of how the school’s proposed educational program will improve the achievement of traditionally underperforming students;
  • The school’s plan for using external, internal and state-required assessments to measure student progress, and how data will be used to drive instruction;
  • The proposed governance structure of the school, including a list of members of the initial board of directors and draft bylaws (which outline the qualifications, terms, and methods of appointment or election of directors);
  • The organizational structure that clearly presents lines of authority and reporting between the board, school administrators, staff and other entities;
  • Plans and timelines for student recruitment and enrollment (of at least 100 students unless the school will focus on serving special needs or at-risk students), including policies and procedures for conducting transparent and random admission lotteries;
  • A proposed five-year budget with clearly stated assumptions;
  • Draft fiscal and internal control policies;
  • Requirements and procedures for audits (comparable in scope to those of traditional public schools);
  • A draft handbook outlining personnel policies – from hiring and evaluating staff to describing staff responsibilities;
  • Draft policies and procedures for staff discipline (consistent with state and federal laws and regulations);
  • A description of facilities to be used, including the proposed location – with a certificate of occupancy provided at least 30 days prior to the first student instructional day;
  • The proposed ages and grade levels to be served, including planned, minimum and maximum enrollment per grade;
  • The school calendar and school day schedule;
  • Types and amounts of insurance coverage to be obtained, including adequate insurance for liability, property loss, and the personal injury of students;
  • A description of the health and food services to be provided;
  • Procedures to be followed in the event of school closure or dissolution;
  • A code of ethics outlining standards of conduct for board members, officers and employees;
  • Plans for recruitment and development of staff;
  • A staffing chart for the school’s first year and for the term of the charter;
  • A plan for parental and community involvement;
  • A plan for identifying and successfully serving students with disabilities, English language learners, bilingual students, and students who are academically behind and gifted;
  • A description of co-curricular and extra-curricular programs (including funding and delivery);
  • The process by which disputes between the school and authorizer will be resolved;
  • A detailed start-up plan, including financing, tasks, timelines and individuals responsible for carrying out the plan.

Schools planning to contract with an education service provider for education program implementation or comprehensive management must also include detailed information on the service provider as part of the application including:

  • Evidence of success in serving similar student populations (both academic and nonacademic);
  • Student performance data and financial audit reports for all schools (both previous and current);
  • Documentation of, and explanation for, any actions taken against any public charter schools for academic, financial or ethical concerns;
  • Evidence of current capacity for growth;
  • A term sheet outlining:
    • Service contract duration;
    • Annual proposed fees;
    • Roles and responsibilities of the board, school staff and the service provider;
    • Scope of services and resources to be provided;
    • Performance evaluation measures and timelines;
    • Compensation structure (including all fees);
    • Contract oversight and enforcement methods;
    • Investment disclosure; and,
    • Conditions for contract renewal and termination.

Providing this level of detail not only ensures legal compliance, but also increases the likelihood of authorizer approval and, ultimately, school success.

It’s critical to begin working now if you have an intent to open a new Kentucky charter school in the fall of 2018, and it’s definitely not too early to begin the development process for the 2019-2020 school year!

Need expert help? Turn to Adkins & Company associates! We can help you navigate through this demanding, but essential, process.

This article is the second in a series published by Adkins & Company, a Kentucky-based consulting group whose mission is to position charter schools for success by providing boards, operators and authorizers with access to high quality services and expertise.

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