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SENATE BILL NO. 204
INTRODUCED BY T. KEATING
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS AS A MEANS OF PROVIDING ADDITIONAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO THE CHILDREN OF MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Short title. [Sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10] may be cited as the "Montana Charter Schools Act".
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Legislative declaration. It is the obligation of Montanans to provide all children with schools that reflect high expectations and to create conditions in all schools under which these expectations can be met. Different pupils learn differently, and public school programs should be designed to fit the needs of individual pupils. There are parents, teachers, and community members in Montana who are willing and able to offer innovative programs and educational techniques and environments but who lack a channel through which they can direct their innovative efforts. In authorizing charter schools, it is the intent of the Montana legislature to create that channel for parents, teachers, and community members to take responsible risks and create new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating all children within the public school system.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Definitions. As used in [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10], the following definitions apply:
(1) "Applicant" means a governmental entity, a private organization, or a private person.
(2) "Board of charter schools" or "board" means the board of charter schools created in [section 4].
(3) "Charter school" means a public school established under the provisions of [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10].
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Board of charter schools -- appointments. (1) There is a board of charter schools.
(2) The board consists of five members appointed as follows:
(a) four persons from the general public appointed by the governor; and
(b) one person from the business community appointed by the governor.
(3) Members shall serve staggered 3-year terms and must be appointed so that no more than three appointments expire in any 1 year.
(4) The board of charter schools is allocated to the board of public education for administrative purposes only as provided in 2-15-121. However, the board may hire its own personnel, and the provisions of 2-15-121(2)(d) do not apply.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Board of charter schools -- powers and duties. (1) The board of charter schools shall:
(a) exercise general supervision over charter schools and recommend legislation pertaining to charter schools to the legislature;
(b) grant charter status to qualifying applicants in accordance with [section 6];
(c) develop a list of various assessment tools from which a charter school may select for use in the charter school's assessment program;
(d) develop an attendance agreement as required in [section 10]; and
(e) keep a record of its proceedings.
(2) The board of charter schools shall adopt rules:
(a) governing the conduct of the board's business; and
(b) establishing the financial reporting procedures required of charter schools.
(3) The board of charter schools is not liable:
(a) for any acts or omissions of a charter school, including acts or omissions relating to the:
(i) application submitted by a charter school;
(ii) charter of a charter school;
(iii) operation of a charter school; or
(iv) performance of a charter school; or
(b) for the debts or financial obligations of a charter school or persons who operate a charter school.
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Charter schools -- application. (1) An applicant shall apply to the board of charter schools to establish and maintain a charter school. The application must include but is not limited to the following:
(a) the name of the applicant;
(b) a description of the facility and the location of the charter school;
(c) a mission statement for the charter school;
(d) a description of the charter school's organizational structure;
(e) a financial plan for the first 3 years of operation; and
(f) a description of the grade levels to be served.
(2) The applicant shall submit the application and a copy of the school charter to the board of charter schools, which shall either accept or reject the application within 90 days. The board of charter schools shall accept the application if the application meets the requirements of this section, and the board shall approve the charter if the board determines that the applicant is sufficiently qualified to operate a charter school. If the application is rejected, the board of charter schools shall notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for the rejection. Upon the request of the applicant, the board of charter schools may provide technical assistance to improve the application. An applicant may submit a revised application for reconsideration by the board of charter schools.
NEW SECTION. Section 7. Charter schools -- requirements -- authority. (1) The charter for a charter school must contain:
(a) evidence that the charter school complies with federal, state, and local statutes and regulations relating to health, safety, civil rights, insurance, and the education of children with disabilities;
(b) a statement that the charter school is exempt from all provisions of Title 20, except as specified in [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10], and from the provisions of Title 39, chapter 31;
(c) evidence that the charter school is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations;
(d) a description of the charter school's educational program, pupil performance standards, and methods of assessment. A charter school may select assessment tools from the list developed by the board of charter schools. A charter school shall provide a comprehensive program for any grade between kindergarten and grade 12, except that a charter school may offer this curriculum with an emphasis on a specific learning philosophy or style or a certain subject area, such as mathematics, science, fine arts, performance arts, social science, or foreign language.
(e) the financial reporting requirements established by the board of charter schools;
(f) a provision for an annual audit of the financial and administrative operations of the charter school;
(g) a description of the governing board of the charter school that is responsible for the policy and operational decisions of the charter school and the specific roles and duties of the governing board; and
(h) a description of the personnel policies, personnel qualifications, and method of school governance.
(2) The governing board of a charter school:
(a) may contract, sue, and be sued;
(b) shall secure insurance for liability and property loss;
(c) may pledge, assign, or encumber its assets to be used as collateral for loans or extensions of credit; and
(d) may accept gifts, donations, or grants of any kind.
NEW SECTION. Section 8. Renewal of charter -- revocation of charter. (1) An approved plan to establish a charter school is effective for 15 years from the first day of operation. At the conclusion of the first 14 years of operation, the charter school may apply for renewal.
(2) The board of charter schools may deny the request for renewal if, in its judgement, the charter school has failed to complete the obligations of the charter or has failed to comply with the provisions of [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10]. The board of charter schools shall give written notice to the governing board of the charter school of the intent not to renew the charter.
(3) The board of charter schools shall review a charter school at 5-year intervals and may revoke a charter at any time if the charter school breaches one or more of the provisions of its charter. At least 90 days before the effective date of the proposed revocation, the board of charter schools shall give written notice to the governing board of the charter school of its intent to revoke the charter. The notice must include a statement of reasons for the proposed revocation. The board of charter schools shall allow the charter school at least 90 days to correct the problems associated with the proposed revocation. The final determination on revocation must be made at a public hearing called for that purpose.
(4) After renewal of the charter at the end of the 15-year period, the charter may be renewed for successive periods of 15 years if the charter school and the board of charter schools believe that the school is in compliance with its own charter and the provisions of [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10].
NEW SECTION. Section 9. Admission requirements. (1) A charter school shall enroll all eligible pupils who submit a timely application unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building. A charter school shall give enrollment preference to pupils returning to the charter school in the second or any subsequent year of its operation and to siblings of pupils already enrolled in the charter school.
(2) If capacity is insufficient to enroll all pupils who submit timely applications, the charter school shall select pupils through an equitable selection process, except that preference must be given to siblings of a pupil selected through an equitable selection process.
(3) A charter school may not limit admission based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, income level, disability, proficiency in the English language, or athletic ability.
(4) A charter school may limit admission to pupils within a given age group or grade level.
NEW SECTION. Section 10. Attendance agreement -- tuition. (1) Approval of an attendance agreement that allows a child to enroll in and attend a charter school is mandatory.
(2) Whenever a parent or guardian of a child wishes to have the child attend a charter school, the parent or guardian shall notify the trustees of the child's district of residence on an attendance agreement form supplied by the charter school and developed by the board of charter schools. Notification must be made within 10 days of the child's enrollment in the charter school. The attendance agreement must set forth the financial obligations of the district of residence for tuition and must have the approval of the administration of the charter school. The trustees of the resident district shall approve the attendance agreement within 10 days of the receipt of the agreement by the resident district.
(3) Whenever a child has approval to attend a charter school, the tuition is 90% of the average annual cost per student within the BASE budget and the maximum general fund budget of the child's district of residence. This calculation for tuition purposes is determined by totaling all of the expenditures for all of the district budgeted funds for the preceding school fiscal year and dividing that amount by the October 1 enrollment in the preceding school fiscal year. The tuition must be paid out of the resident district's tuition fund.
(4) By December 31 of the school fiscal year, the resident district shall pay one-half of the tuition established under this section from the district tuition fund to the appropriate charter school. The remaining tuition must be paid by June 15 of the school fiscal year.
NEW SECTION. Section 11. Codification instruction. (1) [Sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 20, and the provisions of Title 20 apply to [sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 10].
(2) [Section 4] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 2, chapter 15, part 15, and the provisions of Title 2, chapter 15, part 15, apply to [section 4].
NEW SECTION. Section 12. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1999.
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Latest Version of SB 204 (SB0204.01)
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