Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 1. Community Choice Schools Act

Community Choice School Proposal Process -- Request For Proposal

20-11-111. Community choice school proposal process -- request for proposal. (1) To solicit, encourage, and guide the development of choice schools, every authorizer operating under this part shall issue and broadly publicize a request for proposal by June 1 of each year. The content and dissemination of the request for proposal must be consistent with the purposes and requirements of this part.

(2) Each authorizer's request for proposal must present the authorizer's strategic vision for authorizing, including a clear statement of any preferences the authorizer wishes to grant to proposals that help at-risk students.

(3) A request for proposal must include or otherwise direct applicants to the performance framework that the authorizer has developed for choice school oversight and evaluation in accordance with 20-11-109.

(4) A request for proposal must include the criteria that will guide the authorizer's decision to approve or deny a choice school proposal.

(5) A request for proposal must include clear and detailed questions designed to gauge an applicant's capacity to establish and operate a successful choice school, as well as guidelines concerning the format and content of an applicant's response to the request for proposal.

(6) A request for proposal must require applicants to describe thoroughly the following essential elements of their proposed choice school proposal:

(a) an executive summary;

(b) the mission and vision of the proposed choice school, including identification of the targeted student population and the community the school hopes to serve;

(c) the location or geographic area proposed for the choice school;

(d) the grades to be served each year for the full term of the charter contract;

(e) minimum, planned, and maximum enrollment each year for the term of the charter contract;

(f) evidence of need and community support for the proposed choice school;

(g) background information on the founding governing board members and, if identified, the proposed school leadership and management team;

(h) the proposed choice school's proposed calendar and sample daily schedule;

(i) a description of the academic program, including identification of the planned standardized assessment to formally measure student achievement on an annual basis;

(j) a description of the proposed choice school's instructional design, including the type of learning environment, class size and structure, curriculum overview, and teaching methods;

(k) the proposed choice school's plans for identifying and successfully serving students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, students who are academically challenged, and gifted students, including but not limited to compliance with applicable laws and regulations;

(l) a description of cocurricular or extracurricular programs, if any, and how the programs will be funded and delivered;

(m) plans and timelines for student recruitment and enrollment, including lottery procedures;

(n) the proposed choice school's student discipline policies, including those for special education students;

(o) an organizational chart that clearly presents the proposed choice school's organizational structure, including lines of authority and reporting between the governing board, staff, related bodies such as advisory bodies or parent and teacher councils, and any external organizations that may play a role in managing the school;

(p) a clear description of the roles and responsibilities for the governing board, the proposed choice school's leadership and management team, and other entities shown in the organizational chart;

(q) a staffing chart for the proposed choice school's first year and a staffing plan for the term of the charter contract;

(r) plans for recruiting and developing school leadership and staff;

(s) the proposed choice school's leadership and teacher employment policies, including performance evaluation plans;

(t) proposed governing bylaws;

(u) explanations of any partnerships or contractual relationships central to the proposed choice school's operations or mission;

(v) the proposed choice school's plans for providing transportation, food service, and all other significant operational or ancillary services, if any;

(w) opportunities and expectations for parent involvement;

(x) a detailed school startup plan identifying tasks, timelines, and responsible individuals;

(y) a description of the proposed choice school's financial plan and policies, including financial controls and audit requirements;

(z) a description of the insurance coverage the proposed choice school will obtain;

(aa) startup and 5-year budgets with clearly stated assumptions;

(bb) startup and first-year cash flow projections with clearly stated assumptions;

(cc) evidence of anticipated fundraising contributions, if claimed in the proposal; and

(dd) a sound facilities plan, including backup or contingency plans, if appropriate.

(7) In the case of a proposal to establish a choice school by converting an existing traditional public school to choice school status, a request for proposal must also require the applicants to demonstrate support for the proposed choice school conversion by a petition signed by a majority of teachers or a majority of the local school board and a petition signed by a majority of parents of students in the existing traditional public school.

(8) In the case of a proposal to establish a virtual choice school, a request for proposal must additionally require the applicants to describe the proposed school's system of course credits and how the school will:

(a) monitor and verify full-time student enrollment, student participation in a full course load, credit accrual, and course completion;

(b) monitor and verify student progress and performance in each course through regular, proctored assessments and submissions of coursework; and

(c) conduct parent-teacher conferences.

(9) In the case of a proposed choice school that intends to contract with an education service provider for substantial educational services, management services, or both, a request for proposal must additionally require the applicants to:

(a) provide evidence of the education service provider's success in serving student populations similar to the targeted population, including demonstrated academic achievement as well as successful management of nonacademic school functions, if applicable;

(b) provide documentation setting forth:

(i) the proposed duration of the service contract;

(ii) the roles and responsibilities of the governing board, the school staff, and the education service provider;

(iii) the scope of services and resources to be provided by the education service provider;

(iv) performance evaluation measures and timelines;

(v) a compensation structure, including clear identification of all fees to be paid to the education service provider;

(vi) methods of contract oversight and enforcement;

(vii) investment disclosure; and

(viii) conditions for renewal and termination of the contract; and

(c) disclose and explain any existing or potential conflicts of interest between the governing board and the proposed education service provider or any affiliated business entities.

(10) In the case of a choice school proposal from an applicant that currently operates one or more schools in any state or nation, a request for proposal must additionally require the applicant to provide evidence of past performance and current capacity for growth.

(11) If a choice school proposal does not contain the elements required in this section, the authorizer may consider the proposal incomplete and return the proposal to the applicant without following the process described in subsection (12).

(12) In reviewing and evaluating choice school proposals, authorizers shall employ procedures, practices, and criteria consistent with nationally recognized principles and standards for authorizing. The proposal review process must include thorough evaluation of each written choice school proposal, an in-person interview with the applicant group, and an opportunity in a public forum for local residents to learn about and provide input on each proposal.

(13) In deciding whether to approve choice school proposals, authorizers shall:

(a) grant approval only to applicants that have demonstrated competence in each element of the authorizer's published approval criteria and are likely to open and operate a successful choice school;

(b) base decisions on documented evidence collected through the proposal review process; and

(c) follow proposal review and approval policies and practices that are transparent and are based on merit and avoid conflicts of interest or any appearance of conflict.

(14) (a) The authorizer shall approve or deny a choice school proposal within 60 days after the filing of the proposal, except that the commission has up to 120 days if more than three proposals have been submitted to the commission within 30 days. The commission shall notify the applicant of the expected timeline for approval or denial.

(b) The authorizer shall adopt by resolution all choice school proposal approval or denial decisions in an open meeting of the authorizer's governing body.

(c) An approval decision may include, if appropriate, reasonable conditions that the applicant must meet before a charter contract may be executed pursuant to 20-11-112.

(d) For any choice school proposal denial, the authorizer shall clearly state for the public record the reasons for denial. A denied applicant may subsequently reapply to that authorizer or apply to any other authorizer in the state.

(e) Within 10 days of taking action to approve or deny a choice school proposal, the authorizer shall report its decision to the commission. The authorizer shall provide a copy of the report to the applicant at the same time that the report is submitted to the commission. The report must include a copy of the resolution of the authorizer's governing body setting forth the action taken and reasons for the decision and providing assurances of compliance with all of the procedural requirements and proposal elements set forth in this section.

(15) An applicant may submit a proposal for a particular choice school to only one authorizer at a time.

History: En. Sec. 9, Ch. 513, L. 2023.