AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE LAWS REGARDING CHARTER SCHOOLS.
Amends GS 115C-218.1 to require an application for a charter to have the school's plans for providing transportation for any enrolled student who resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school will be located. Applies to a new or renewed charter submitted on or after July 1, 2021.
Amends GS 115C-218.40, requiring charter schools to provide transportation for any enrolled student who resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school is located (previously, required to develop a transportation plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student residing in the unit). Eliminates the provision explicitly providing that charter schools are not required to provide transportation to any student who lives within one and one-half miles of the school. Adds that transportation must comply with policies adopted by the State Board of Education (State Board) and applicable transportation safety provisions from Article 17 (Supporting Services), including four identified statutory provisions such as the rules the State Board must adopt pursuant to GS 115C-240(c) governing construction, equipment, color, and maintenance of school buses, pupil limits on buses, and qualifications of bus drivers. Applies beginning with the 2021-23 school year.
Amends GS 115C-12, expanding the authority of the State Board to promulgate policies, rules, and regulations for the operation of a public transportation system by each charter school in the State.
Directs the State Board to adopt transportation safety requirements for charter schools consistent with Section 1 by December 31, 2021.
Further amends GS 115C-218.1 to require an application for a charter to include the school's plan for providing food services for any enrolled student. Applies to a new or renewed charter submitted on or after July 1, 2021.
Enacts GS 115C-218.42, requiring charter schools to provide food service for any enrolled student and participate in the National School Lunch Program. Applies beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
Amends Part I of SL 2021-7 to expand the required school extension learning recovery and enrichment program to charter schools, requiring charter schools to provide in-person instruction on specific subjects and offer enrichment activities to students in all grades K-12 offered by the charter school to address learning losses and negative impacts students have experienced due to COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year (previously, charter schools were only encouraged to implement a plan required of local school administrative units). Requires implementation within available funds, including federal funds received to respond to COVID-19. Incorporates statutory cross-references comparable for charter schools regarding identification of at-risk students, who are to be prioritized for participation in the program (reference to GS 115C-218.87, as enacted). Makes changes throughout the Part's requirements to extend relevant requirements of program implementation and employment to charter schools, including required signing bonuses and performance bonuses for teachers under the program.
Additionally, authorizes charter schools in the same manner as local school administrative units are authorized to use funds allocated to the units for reading camps for the 2020-21 fiscal year to support the operation of reading instruction for grades 1-3 in the school extension and recovery and enrichment program, but not enrichment activities. Includes charter schools in the permissible program assessments for grades K-8 made available by the State Board. Finally, makes the reporting requirements under the program applicable to charter schools.
Enacts GS 115C-218.87, directing charter schools to identify enrolled students who are at-risk for academic failure and are not successfully progressing toward grade promotion and graduation.
Enacts new subsection (f1) to GS 115C-218.45 requiring charter schools which enroll a smaller percentage of qualifying students than the local school administrative unit in which the charter school is located to give enrollment priority to qualifying students until the enrollment percentage of qualifying students is equal to or greater than the enrollment percentage of qualifying students in the local school administrative unit in which the charter school is located. Defines qualifying student to mean a student who either (1) resides in a household with an income level not in excess of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, or (2) qualified as an identified student under the Common Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Enacts GS 115C-218.77, establishing a new requirement for charter schools which contract with a charter management organization to annually report the name of that organization to the State Board. Prohibits entering into a subcontract to avoid the statute's requirements. Directs the State Board to maintain a list of all charter management organizations in operation in the State and their affiliated charter school(s) and annually publish the list on its website. Defines charter management organization.
Amends GS 115C-218.25 to additionally subject to the the Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Law any records and meetings related to the operation of the charter school of any charter management organization that contracts with the charter school. Makes inspection of charter school personnel records of employees of the charter school, and employees who work at the charter school and are employed by any charter management organization that contracts with the charter school, subject to the personnel record privacy requirements of Article 21A. Additionally, subjects any charter management organization that contracts with the charter school to the same schedule established by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for retention and disposition of records of local school administrative units.
Amends GS 115C-218.45, regarding charter school enrollment priority, to remove priority for children of persons employed by an education management organization.
Amends GS 115C-218.90 to no longer provide for a charter school's board of directors to contract with an education management organization as an alternative to a charter management organization to employ and provide teachers.
Directs the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to establish the Charter School Transportation Grant Pilot Program (Program) to award grant funds to a charter school meeting specified requirements for up to 65% reimbursement of the eligible student transportation costs incurred by the school, including transportation fuel, vehicle maintenance, contracted transportation services, and transportation personnel salaries. Limits eligibility to a charter school that has student enrollment in a semester of the school year of at least 50% of its students either (1) reside in households with an income level not in excess of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, or (2) qualify as identified students under the Common Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Directs DPI to establish criteria and guidelines for the grant application process for the upcoming school year by August 1, 2021, and accept applications until December 31, 2021, for eligible transportation costs incurred during the fall semester of the school year and until May 30, 2022, for costs incurred during the spring semester. Requires award of funds by January 15, 2022, and June 15, 2022, respectively. Caps grants at $100,000. Directs DPI to report to the specified NCGA committees and division by March 15, 2022. Details required content of the report.
Appropriates $2.5 million from the General Fund to DPI for 2021-22 to operate the Program.
Effective July 1, 2021.
Further amends GS 115C-218.90, now requiring 100% of the teachers employed by the charter school or by a contracted charter management organization to hold teacher licenses (currently, at least requires 50%, with a requirement for core subject teachers to be college graduates). Applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Amends GS 115C-218.85 to require charter schools to align their opening and closing dates for the school year with those for the school year of the local school administrative unit in which the charter school is located. Applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Amends GS 115C-218.75 to require rather than encourage charter schools to adopt a policy against bullying or harassing behavior consistent with the provisions of Article 29C and provide the policy to staff, students, and parents at the beginning of each school year. Applies beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Further amends GS 115C-218.1 to require an application for a charter to include a description of the programs that implement each purpose of a charter school stated in GS 115C-218(a) (was, a description of a program that implements one or more of the purposes of GS 115C-218).
Repeals GS 115C-218.3, which provides for fast-track replication of high-quality charter schools.
Amends GS 115C-218.110, establishing a new annual reporting requirement for charter school to report to the State Board on different and innovative teaching methods implemented by the charter school pursuant to GS 115C-218(a)(3). Additionally, regarding the State Board's annual report to the specified NCGA committee on the evaluation of charter schools, requires the report on the best practices resulting from charter school operations to include an analysis of the different and innovative teaching methods implemented by charter schools and reported by the State Board pursuant to the new reporting requirement.
Amends GS 115C-218.7, deeming any enrollment growth beyond the enrollment growth outline in the charter to be a material revision of the charter that requires the State Board approval (previously, enrollment growth greater than 20% was considered a material revision for charters identified as low-performing, and 30% for charters not identified as low-performing). Now restricts State Board authority to approval of additional enrollment growth of greater than 20% (was 30%), provided the five specified criteria are met. No longer prohibits the State Board from approving a material revision for enrollment growth of greater than 20% for a charter currently identified as low-performing.
Amends GS 115C-218.75 to require charter schools which enroll all or part of grades K-3 to comply with the class size requirements of GS 115C-301.
Amends GS 115C-218.15 to mandate that all board of directors members of the private nonprofit operating a charter school reside in the State (currently, allows for members to reside outside of the State, and authorizes the State Board to require a majority of the board and all officers to reside in the State).
Provides that the act is effective on the date the act becomes law, except as otherwise provided.
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