Measuring Up

 



Alaska

TOTAL SCORE:
78 out of 240

Rank: 42 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1995
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 29
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 6,600

Alaska’s law does not cap charter public school growth and includes an appellate mechanism for charter school applicants rejected by local school boards, but it also provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability, and inequitable facilities funding.

Alaska’s law still needs major improvement. Potential starting points include beefing up the law in relation to the model law’s four quality-control components (Components 6 through 9), increasing operational autonomy, ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities, ensuring transparency regarding educational service providers, and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.

Do Alaska's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Alaska's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law does not place any caps on charter school growth.

12

1A. No numeric or geographic limits are placed on the number of charter schools or students.

1B. If caps exist, there is room for growth.

N/A

2. A Variety of Charter Public Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law allows new start-ups and public school conversions.

8

2A. New startups.

2B. Public school conversions.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law requires applicants to apply to their local school boards. If the local school board approves the application, the local school board must forward the application to the state board of education and early development for review and approval.

If a local school board denies an application, the applicant may appeal the denial to the state commissioner of education. The law allows the state commissioner to remand the appeal to the local school board for further review, approve the application and forward it to the state board of education, or uphold the denial by a local school board.

If the state commissioner upholds the denial by the local school board, the applicant may appeal to the state board.

The law provides that a local school board that denied an application for a charter school approved by the state board shall operate the charter school.

6

3A. The state allows two or more authorizing options (e.g., school districts and a state charter schools commission) for each applicant with direct application to each authorizer.

4. Authorizer & Overall Program Accountability System Required

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law does not include any of the elements of the model law’s authorizer and overall program accountability system.

0

4A. Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).

N/A

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report.

4D. The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.

4E. The ability for the state to sanction an authorizer for poor performance, including suspending an authorizer’s authority to approve new schools.

4F. Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law allows school districts to retain up to four percent of a charter school’s program budget to cover the district’s administrative costs. The law requires a local school board to provide a charter school with a report itemizing the administrative costs retained by the local school board.

4

5A. A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.

5B. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

5C. Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

5D. Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska’s law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding transparent charter application, review, and decision-making processes. Alaska law provides application requirements for all charter schools. The law requires districts to state their decisions about applications in writing.

4

6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.

6D. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6E. Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6F. Application approval criteria.

6G. All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

7. Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska law requires charter contracts, but the requirements only concern school roles, powers, and responsibilities and don’t address authorizer roles, powers, and responsibilities.

The law requires the contract to provide specific levels of achievement for the school's education program, but does not require a more detailed performance framework.

Alaska law also provides that contracts may be for a term of no more than 10 years.

8

7A. With such contracts being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.

7B. With such contracts defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. With such contracts defining academic, financial, and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.

7D. With such contracts providing an initial term of five operating years.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes. The law does allow the state department of education to audit a charter school’s program during the term of a charter contract and to take any action necessary to ensure compliance with federal and state law, including the withholding of money.

4

8A. Required annual school performance reports.

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., generally accepted accounting principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.

8D. Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

8E. Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

8F. Authorizer may not request duplicative data submission from its charter schools and may not use performance framework to create cumbersome reporting requirements.

9. Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for clear processes for renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions. Alaska law requires each charter contract to contain a termination clause providing that the charter contract may be terminated by the local school board for the failure of the school to meet educational achievement goals or fiscal management standards or for other good cause. It also provides that contracts may be for a term of no more than 10 years.

4

9A. Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

9C. Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

9D. Ability to have a differentiated process for renewal of high-performing charter schools.

9E. Authorizers must use clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9F. Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract.

9G. Requirement that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.

9H. Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9I. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

9J. Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

9K. All charter renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions must be made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for nonrenewals and revocations in writing.

9L. Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

9M. Any transfer of charter contracts from one authorizer to another are only allowed if they are approved by the state.

10. Transparency Regarding Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law does not include any of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers.

0

10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are allowed to operate all or parts of schools.

10B. The charter application requires (1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, and (2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

10C. A performance contract is required between the independent charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.

10D. School governing boards operate as entities completely independent of any ESP, individuals compensated by an ESP are prohibited from serving as voting members on such boards, and existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

10E. Provides that charter school governing boards must have access to ESP records necessary to oversee the ESP contract.

10F. An ESP must annually provide information to its charter school governing board on how that ESP spends public funding it receives when the ESP is performing a public function under applicable state law.

10G. Requires that similar criminal history record checks and fingerprinting requirements applicable to other public schools shall also be mandatory for on-site employees of ESPs who regularly come into contact with students.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Charter Public School Boards

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law does not include any of the model law’s provisions for fiscally and legally autonomous schools with independent charter school boards.

0

11A. Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds; incur debt; and pledge, assign, or encumber assets as collateral).

11B. Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).

11C. Independent school governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Enrollment and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for clear student recruitment, enrollment, and lottery procedures. Alaska law requires charter schools to hold lotteries if too many students seek enrollment in the school.

2

12A. Open enrollment to any student in the state.

12B. Anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions and for prior-year students within charter schools.

12D. Lottery requirements.

13. Automatic Exemptions from Many State and District Laws and Regulations

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Instead of providing automatic exemptions from most state and district laws and regulations, Alaska law provides that a charter school operates as a school in the local school district except that a charter school:

* is exempt from a school district's textbook, program, curriculum and scheduling requirements;
* is exempt from a state law that requires superintendents of schools to select, appoint and otherwise control school district employees that serve under the superintendent; instead, it provides that the principal of a charter school shall be selected by the school’s academic policy committee and shall select, appoint, or otherwise supervise employees of the charter school; and
* operates under the charter school’s annual program budget as set out in the contract between the local school board and the charter school.

It also states that school boards may exempt a charter school from other school district requirements if the exemption is set out in the contract.

Alaska law does not exempt charter schools from state teacher certification requirements.

6

13A. Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.

13B. Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

14. Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law requires all charter schools to be part of existing collective bargaining agreements, but schools can apply for exemptions.

3

14A. Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

N/A

14B. Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

15. Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law is silent regarding these arrangements.

2

15A. An independent charter school board may oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. An independent charter school board may hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

16. Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Eligibility and Access

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

Alaska law explicitly allows charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at noncharter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

3

16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all extracurricular and interscholastic activities available to noncharter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extracurricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at noncharter public schools.

17. Clear Provisions Regarding Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law is silent about special education responsibilities and funding.

0

17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.

17C. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

17D. Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

18. Equitable Operational Funding and Equal Access to All State and Federal Categorical Funding

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska law includes some of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding, and there is no evidence of the amount of funds charters receive versus districts.

Alaska law requires a local school board to provide a charter school with an annual program budget which shall not be less than the amount generated by the students enrolled in the charter school less administrative costs retained by the school district, determined by applying the indirect cost rate approved by the department up to four percent. Costs directly related to charter school facilities, including rent, utilities, and maintenance, may not be included in an annual program budget for the purposes of calculating the four percent cap on administrative costs.

The law provides that the “amount generated by students enrolled in the charter school” is to be determined in the same manner as it would be for a student enrolled in another public school in that school district and includes funds generated by grants, appropriations, federal impact aid, the required local contribution, the local contribution under AS 14.17.410(c), special needs under AS 14.17.420(a)(1), and secondary school vocational and technical instruction under AS 14.17.420(a)(3).

The law requires a school district that provides transportation services under state law to provide transportation services to students attending a charter school operated by the district under a policy adopted by the district. The policy must: be developed with input solicited from individuals involved with the charter school, including staff, students, and parents; at a minimum, provide transportation services for students enrolled in the charter school on a space available basis along the regular routes that the students attending schools in an attendance area in the district are transported; and be approved by the state department of education. If a school district fails to adopt a policy, the school district shall allocate the amount received for each charter school student to each charter school operated by the district based on the number of students enrolled in the charter school.

Alaska law allows a charter school that is established on or after the effective date of this section to receive a one-time grant from the state department of education equal to the amount of $500 for each student enrolled in the school on October 1 of the first year in which the school applies for the grant. The charter school shall use a grant received under this section to provide educational services, which include curriculum development, program development, and special education services.

4

18A. Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.

18B. Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.

18C. Funding for transportation similar to school districts.

18D. Annual report offering district and charter public school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Alaska’s law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Alaska law provides that charter schools are eligible through their local municipalities to access tax-exempt financing through the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority.

Alaska law requires school districts to direct state aid under AS 14.11 for the construction or major maintenance of a charter school facility to the charter school that generated the state aid, subject to the same terms and conditions that apply to state aid under AS 14.11 for construction and major maintenance of a school facility that is not a charter school.

Alaska law requires a school district to offer to a charter school the right of first refusal for a lease of space in a existing school district facility or in a facility within the school district that is not currently being used as a public school, if the chief school administrator determines the facility meets requirements for health and safety applicable to public buildings or other public schools in the district.

The law allows a municipality to classify and exempt or partially exempt from taxation all or a portion of privately owned real property rented or leased for use as a charter school.

4


Facilities Funding

19A. A per-pupil facilities allowance that annually reflects actual average district capital costs.

19B. A state grant program for charter school facilities.

19C. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to noncharter public schools.


Access to Public Space

19D. A requirement for districts to provide school district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that school’s students reside in that district.

19E. Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.


Access to Financing Tools

19F. A state loan program for charter school facilities.

19G. Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allowing charter schools to have their own bonding authority.

19H. Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms.

19I. The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund.

19J. The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding and mill levy requests.

19K. A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for charter school facilities.


Other

19L. Charter schools allowed to contract at or below fair market value with a school district, a college or university, or any other public or for-profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of facility for a school building.

19M. Certain entities allowed to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.

19N. Charter school facilities exempt from ad valorem taxes and other assessment fees not applicable to other public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Alaska law requires participation in the relevant employee retirement systems.

4

20A. Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.

20B. Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).

21. Full-Time Virtual Charter School Provisions (if such schools allowed by state)

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Alaska law does not include any of the model law’s provisions for full-time virtual charter schools.

0

21A. An authorizing structure whereby full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from more than one district may be approved only by an authorizer with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority, full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from one school district may be authorized by that school district, and a cap is placed on the total amount of funding that an authorizer may withhold from a full-time virtual charter school.

21B. Legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.

21C. Enrollment level provisions that establish maximum enrollment levels for each year of a charter contract, with any increases in enrollment from one year to the next based on whether the school meets its performance requirements.

21D. Accountability provisions that include virtual-specific goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, and attrition.

21E. Funding levels per student based on costs proposed and justified by the operators.

21F. Performance-based funding whereby full-time virtual charter schools are funded via a performance-based funding system based on meeting the accountability performance provisions.