Type 3 Charter Schools
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR PARENTS ABOUT TYPE 3 CHARTER SCHOOLS
What are charter schools?
Charter schools are public schools, open to all students in Orleans Parish, and free of tuition.
Each charter school is given complete autonomy over all decisions related to a school’s operation, including programming, instruction, curriculum, materials and texts, yearly school calendar and daily schedules, staff employment, performance management, and evaluation, budgeting, purchasing, procurement, and contracts. As the charter authorizer, OPSB does not manage day-to-day operations, budgeting, or academics for charter schools.
In exchange for this autonomy, OPSB requires charter schools to maintain academic excellence, as measured by the Louisiana State Accountability System (school performance scores and letter grades). OPSB may choose not to renew a charter with schools receiving a letter grade of F.
What is OPSB’s role in charter school oversight?
OPSB regularly monitors schools’ academic, financial, and operational performance to ensure charter operators comply with state and local policies and remain financially viable. OPSB’s policies regarding oversight of charter schools are stipulated in OPSB Policy section H, Charter Schools.
Each year, OPSB conducts an Annual Review of each charter school based on the OPSB Performance Framework. OPSB reviews data collected – state test results, independent financial audits, history of reported issues or violations – and conducts a school visit annually at each charter school. The results of Annual Reviews are published in OPSB’s Annual Report.
Based on this review, OPSB makes a determination of whether the school is meeting annual expectations for performance. In the event that a school falls below expectations for a particular component, OPSB works with the school to develop a corrective action plan stipulating what actions the school will take to remedy its deficiencies within a stated time frame. Corrective action plans can also be triggered by more urgent concerns that arise within the school.
The majority of school concerns are adequately addressed through corrective action plans. Corrective action plans allow for OPSB to implement needed changes at schools, while respecting school autonomy and mitigating disruption for students; however, for more urgent matters, or concerns that remain unaddressed, OPSB retains the ability to close schools or transfer them to new operators.
Who runs charter schools?
Each charter school is managed by a non-profit governing board made up of local leaders, parents, and even alumni of the school. Charter governing boards must comply with Louisiana laws preventing nepotism and requiring public notice and access to board meeting schedules and minutes. OPSB requires that each governing board includes a parent of a current/recent student at the school.
Charter governing boards are responsible for the school’s financial management, academic excellence, and compliance with federal, state and local laws. In order to start a charter, the governing board will sign a contract with OPSB and will select a leader for the school or network of schools. That charter leader reports to the governing board.
Who determines who is on the governing board of a charter school? Who can/cannot be on the governing board of a charter school?
Charter schools governing boards are self-determined. Generally, a board chair may recruit key individuals with experiences that will be helpful in running the school. These experiences include local knowledge and context, experience as members of charter or non-profit boards, as well as a diverse experience helping to inform the school’s academic, financial, organizational, and legal obligations.
OPSB Policy HA stipulates that charter school boards must have a minimum of seven members, 60% of whom must reside in Orleans Parish. In addition, each board must include the parent of a student currently enrolled at one of the schools operated by that charter group. The parent requirement can also be fulfilled by participation of a current student or recent graduate.
The following individuals may not serve on an OPSB charter school governing board: more than one immediate family member, current Louisiana elected officials, current school employees, Orleans Parish School Board members and district employees.
What is the role of the school leader at a charter school?
In many cases, the charter leader serves both as the principal and also manages the additional responsibilities of a charter school beyond academics and building operations. At larger charter schools, or when a governing board oversees multiple charter schools, the charter leader may run a larger network of staff including the school principals. This network is sometimes called a charter management organization (CMO). The CMO can then provide academic, operational, and financial support to the schools allowing principals to focus on their building staff, academics, and students.
What is a type 3 charter school?
A type 3 charter school is a conversion of an existing school to a charter, authorized by OPSB. To date, OPSB has had 10 existing schools convert via to type 3 charters. Since conversions to charters, many of these already successful schools have continued to improve in student achievement, even increasing by at least one letter grade (based on state accountability system).
If my school converts to charter, will my child have to apply or lose his/her seat?
No, as a conversion of an existing school, a type 3 charter will retain students from the existing school. Current families will not need to submit an application to enroll in the same school for the next year.
What is the process to convert the school to charter? How is the decision made?
OPSB operates an annual charter application process to approve new start (Type 1 charter schools) and the conversion of existing traditional and charter schools (Type 3 charter schools). Through this process, potential charter operators submit applications, which are then reviewed by a third-party evaluation team to determine whether the proposal meets standards for an excellent educational program, financially viable budget, and well run organization is effective. Superintendent Henderson Lewis then makes recommendations to approve/deny each application based on the independent review and his strategic vision and goals.
Through Act 91 (Lousiana Senate Bill 432), the Louisiana Legislature has empowered the locally elected school board to make decisions for schools and children and has empowered the superintendent, to make and implement recommendations regarding who gets a charter and who does not. This is a shift, as in previous years, the superintendent has presented recommendations regarding which applicants to grant a charter to, and the school board has voted to approve or deny my recommendations. The superintendent now has authority to implement recommendations barring a two-thirds vote of the school board to overturn, a “supermajority” dissent.
Prior to the superintendent’s recommendation, a third-party performs a baseline review of each proposal to ensure that the academic, organizational, and financial plans are sound. The third-party team also interviews each applicant directly to validate each application. OPSB administrative staff also reviews each application to ensure that the plan that each applicant submits is viable.
Can any CMO submit an application for any/all of the remaining 5 schools?
Yes, per La statute RS 17:3982, Orleans Parish School Board must review all applications received from eligible applicants to open a new charter school and/or convert an existing school to charter. Pursuant to this statute, OPSB makes public the guidelines for submitting a charter school proposal, timelines for accepting and reviewing proposals, and the name and contact information for a primary point of contact who can provide additional support to prospective applicants, via the OPSB website Charter Application Page.
What input do the parents, faculty, and staff have in choosing of the proposed charter applications submitted to OPSB? What law supports OPSB’s decisions?
La statute RS 17:3973 stipulates that charter schools authorized by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education directly must be approved by the faculty/staff and parents of the school’s existing student body through a vote.
The same statute provides that local school districts, like Orleans Parish School Board, have no such requirement. In evaluating proposals for both new and existing charter schools, OPSB requests that applicants include in their proposal evidence of parent and community support. In the past, this has taken the form of votes, letters of support, petitions, and other evidence. No one format is required.
More Information About OPSB’s Charter Application Process
Orleans Parish School Board is now accepting applications the 2017 charter application process.
Information about the charter application process, including materials for prospective applicants can be found here.
OPSB will review proposals, on a rolling basis through the end of the charter school application deadline: February 24, 2017 and may therefore present final recommendations in advance of May 16th.
Per LA statute, OPSB waives the full application for charter operators eligible for Automatic Replication of existing schools. OPSB will still receive and evaluate proposals from these operators specifically as they relate to conversion of existing schools into Type 3 charters.