State Charter Board reviews performance framework

The Utah State Charter School Board met this morning, opening with a review of a proposed performance framework for the more than six dozen charter schools in the state. This performance framework has been in the works for months and, if adopted, would set minimum requirements for charter academic performance, finances and oversight. An advisory committee has been meeting regularly to make recommendations on how this performance framework should be structured. The State Charter Board received an update on several recommendations for performance standards and guidelines and will receive the final recommendation in August. 

Utah State Charter School Board meeting July 14 2011 at the Utah State Charter School Board meeting, July 14 2011

The recommendation for the charter academic standard is based on the new school grading law, which will give every Utah public school a grade based on student performance and, for high schools, the graduation rate and college and career readiness. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the proposed charter school standard would require all charter schools to receive no less than a D-grade  to avoid State Charter Board intervention. 

The proposed operational and financial standards would require each charter school to have cash on-hand for at least 30 days or a cash reserve, as required by their bond covenants, which ever is greater. And it would require all charters to not receive any material findings, no financial condition findings and no repeated significant findings on audits. 

In addition to the proposed standards, the ad hoc committee came up with several recommended guidelines for charters. These will act as best practices for charters, though failure to meet these will not be as consequential as failing to meet the proposed standards. They include guidelines for student achievement, such as outlining the minimum progress score on the Utah Performance Assessment System for Students (U-PASS) and minimum graduation rates. The financial guidelines would set maximum debt ratios and recommended liquidity. Guidelines for charter school board performance, parent and community engagement and upholding the mission and purpose of the charter schools are expected to be presented at next month’s meeting. 

After reviewing the proposed performance framework, the State Charter Board also reviewed two charter amendments. Bear Canyon High School for Sports and Medical Science requested to delay its opening date until 2012 due to lower than anticipated enrollment numbers. The State Charter Board agreed and asked the fledgling Kaysville, Utah, charter school to come back in March when they have a better understanding of their expected enrollment for their new opening date of August 2012. The Baer Canyon charter amendment will go before the State Board of Education’s Charter School Subcommittee in August. The State Charter Board also approved an amendment request from Syracuse Arts Academy in Syracuse, Utah. This school asked for three amendments, changing the way parents are represented on its board, posting the parent grievance on the website and not aligning its calendar with the Davis School District’s. These amendments also will head next to the State Board of Education’s Charter School Subcommittee for further review. 

The State Charter Board also heard an update about how the funding structure for the Statewide Public Education Online Programs (created by SB 65) will effect charter schools, reviewed three proposed rules that essentially divvy up the Charter School Board rule into three separate, more focused, rules and approved changes to the State Charter School bylaws recommended by the State Board of Education’s Charter Subcommittee. 

The next Utah State Charter School Board meeting is slated for August 11. 

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