Measuring Up to the Model



New Mexico

TOTAL SCORE:
150 out of 228

Rank: 12 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1993 Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  95 Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  21,911 New Mexico did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking. New Mexico’s score increased from 147 points in 2013 to 150 points this year.  The score changed because of adjustments in our methodology for Component #3 (Multiple Authorizers Available).  Its ranking went from #10 to #12. Potential areas for improvement include beefing up statutory guidelines for relationships between charter schools and educational service providers, increasing operational autonomy, and enacting statutory guidelines to govern the expansion of high-quality charter schools through multischool charter contracts and/or multicharter contract boards.

Do New Mexico's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

New Mexico's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

New Mexico law provides that no more than 15 schools may open each year with a five-year cap of 75, with slots not filled within a five-year period rolled over to the next five years. New Mexico law also requires that an application for a charter school in a district with 1,300 or fewer students may not enroll more than 10% of the students in the district in which the charter school will be located.

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1A. No limits are placed on the number of public charter schools or students (and no geographic limits).

1B. If caps exist, adequate room for growth.

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law allows new start-ups and virtual schools, but not public school conversions.

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

New Mexico law allows local school districts and the state public education commission to approve charter applications. There is considerable authorizing activity by local school districts and the state public education commission.

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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

New Mexico law requires authorizers to submit an annual report to the state public education department that includes a performance report for each charter school it oversees.

While the law does not require the legislature and governor to regularly review the performance of the state public education commission as an authorizer, they can do so at any time. In addition, the legislature and governor can remove the ability of the state public education commission to continue authorizing (the entities that gave it that authority).

New Mexico law requires the state public education department to issue annual reports to the governor, the legislative finance committee, and the legislative education study committee on the state’s charter schools. The law requires the annual report to include a comparison of the performance of charter school students with the performance of academically, ethnically and economically comparable groups of students in noncharter public schools. It also requires the annual report to include an assessment of the successes, challenges, and areas for improvement in meeting the purposes of the Charter Schools Act, including the division's assessment of the sufficiency of funding for charter schools, the efficacy of the state formula for chartering authority funding, and any suggested changes to state law or policy necessary to strengthen the state's charter schools.

The law does not require at least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state, a regular review process by authorizer oversight body of local school board authorizers, and an authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction local school board authorizers including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

6

4A. At least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

N/A

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report, which summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio.

4D. A regular review process by authorizer oversight body.

4E. Authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

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

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law allows authorizers to withhold and use two percent of the school-generated program cost for its administrative support of a charter school. The law requires authorizers to annually provide a detailed description of how they are expending the dollars that they are withholding from charter schools.

New Mexico law allows a charter school to contract with a school district, a university or college, the state, another political subdivision of the state, the federal government or one of its agencies, a tribal government, or any other third party for the use of a facility, its operation and maintenance, and the provision of any service or activity that the charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter.

The law does not include a prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6

5A. Adequate funding from authorizing fees (or other sources).

5B. Guaranteed funding from authorizing fees (or from sources not subject to annual legislative appropriations).

5C. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

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

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

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New Mexico law contains application elements for all schools.

New Mexico law requires an authorizer to hold at least one public subcommittee hearing in the school district in which the charter school is proposed to be located to obtain information and community input to assist it in its decision whether to grant a charter school application. The law allows the authorizer to designate a subcommittee of no fewer than three members to hold the public hearing, and, if so, the law requires the hearing to be transcribed for later review by other members of the authorizer. The law provides that community input may include written or oral comments in favor of or in opposition to the application from the applicant, the district, the local community, and local school board in whose geographical boundaries the charter school is proposed to be located. The law does not require an in-person interview.

New Mexico law requires all charter approval or denial decisions to be made in a public meeting and requires authorizers to state reasons for denials in writing at the time of the hearing.

The law does not contain additional application elements specific to virtual schools, educational service providers, and replications. It also doesn’t require authorizers to issue request for proposals that include application requirements and approval criteria.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

N/A

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

6D. Additional application elements specific when using educational service providers.

6E. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6F. Authorizer-issued request for proposals (including application requirements and approval criteria).

6G. Thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6H. 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

According to New Mexico law, authorizers must enter into a contract with the governing body of the applicant charter school within 30 days of approval. The law requires the charter contract to be legally binding and serve as the final authorization for the charter school. The law requires the charter contract to specify the authorizer’s duties to the charter school, including the process and criteria used to annually monitor and evaluate the charter school. The law requires the contract to include any dispute resolution processes agreed to by both parties.

New Mexico law requires the final approved charter contract to define the academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

According to New Mexico law, a charter school may be approved for an initial term of six years; provided that the first year shall be used exclusively for planning and not for completing the application.

The law does not include requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools.

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

7B. Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. Defining academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

7D. Providing an initial term of five operating years (or a longer term with periodic high-stakes reviews.

7E. Including requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools, if applicable.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

The law requires authorizers to collect, analyze, and report all data in accordance with the performance frameworks set forth in their approved charter contracts with schools and to include this information in annual performance reports for each charter school they oversee submitted to the state public education department.

The law requires charter schools to adhere to the same reporting requirements as traditional public schools, including quarterly financial reports, an annual outside audit, and 40-, 60-, and 120-day student counts. The law also requires charter schools receiving local mill levy tax dollars to report their proposed and actual capital expenditures.

The law requires authorizers to monitor the fiscal, overall governance, student performance, and legal compliance of the charter schools they oversee, including reviewing the data provided by the charter school to support ongoing evaluation according to the charter contract.

The law allows authorizers to conduct or require oversight activities that allow the authorizer to fulfill its responsibilities under the Charter Schools Act, including conducting appropriate inquires and investigations provided that the authorizer complies with the provisions of the Charter Schools Act and the terms of the charter contract and does not unduly inhibit the autonomy granted to the charter schools that it governs.

As part of its performance review of a charter school, the law requires authorizers to visit a charter school under its authority at least once annually to provide technical assistance to the charter school and to determine the status of the charter school and the progress of the charter school toward the performance framework goals in its charter contract.

If, based on the performance review conducted by the authorizer, a charter school's fiscal, overall governance, student performance, or legal compliance appears unsatisfactory, the law requires the authorizer to promptly notify the governing body of the charter school of the unsatisfactory review and provide reasonable opportunity for the governing body to remedy the problem. However, if the unsatisfactory review warrants revocation, the law provides that the revocation procedures set forth in state law shall apply.

The law allows an authorizer to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions, as long as such sanctions do not constitute revocation, in response to the unsatisfactory review. The law provides that such actions or sanctions by the authorizer may include requiring a governing body to develop and execute a corrective action plan with the authorizer that sets forth time frames for compliance.

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8A. The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with performance framework outlined in the contract).

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.

8D. Annual school performance reports which are made public.

8E. Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

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

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

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New Mexico law requires charter schools seeking renewal to apply for it. It requires the renewal application to include a report on the progress towards meeting the state public education department’s minimum education standards and other performance goals stated in each school’s charter contract academic performance framework.

New Mexico law allows an authorizer to suspend, revoke, or not renew a charter if it determines that the charter school did any of the following: committed a material violation or breach of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter contract; failed to meet or make substantial progress toward achievement of the department's minimum educational standards or student performance standards identified in the charter contract; failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; or violated any provision of law from which the charter school was not specifically exempted.

The law requires authorizers to develop processes for suspension, revocation, or nonrenewal of a charter that provides the charter school with timely notification of the prospect of suspension, revocation, or nonrenewal of the charter and the reasons for such action, allows the charter school a reasonable amount of time to prepare and submit a response to the authorizer’s action, and requires the final determination made by authorizer to be submitted to the state public education department. The law requires the authorizer to rule in a public hearing on the renewal application no later than 180 days prior to the charter contract’s expiration. The law allows charter schools to appeal authorizer decisions to revoke or not renew a charter to the state secretary of education.

New Mexico law allows a charter to be renewed for successive periods of five years each and allows approvals of less than five years if agreed to between the charter school and the authorizer.

New Mexico law requires all charter renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions to be made in a public meeting and requires authorizers to state their reasons for revocation or non-renewal in writing.

Prior to any charter school closure, the law requires an authorizer to develop closure protocols that include timely notification to parents, orderly transition of students and records, and disposition of property and assets. The protocol must also specify tasks, timelines, and the duties of responsible parties.

The law does not require authorizers to issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

12

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. Clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9E. 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).

9F. Authorizer authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9G. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

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

9I. All charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

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

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers.
State law prohibits a charter school governing body from contracting with a for-profit entity for the management of the charter school.

If a charter school contracts with a third-party provider, the law requires the charter contract to include the criteria and procedures for the authorizer to review the provider's contract and the charter school's financial independence from the provider. It doesn’t require authorizers to approve these contracts and ensure that governing boards operate completely independent of a provider, though.

The law provides that a person shall not serve as a member of a governing body of a charter school if the person or an immediate family member of the person is an owner, agent of, contractor with or otherwise has a financial interest in a for-profit or nonprofit entity with which the charter school contracts directly, for professional services, goods or facilities. It doesn’t require existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities to be disclosed and explained in the charter application, though.

There are no statutory provisions guiding any charter application requirements for educational service providers and performance contracts between the school and service provider.

2

10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly 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, including documentation of academic achievement and (if applicable) school management success; 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 public charter school board and the ESP, setting forth material terms including but not limited to: performance evaluation measures; methods of contract oversight and enforcement by the charter school board; compensation structure and all fees to be paid to the ESP; and conditions for contract renewal and termination.

10D. The material terms of the ESP performance contract must be approved by the authorizer prior to charter approval.

10E. School governing boards operating as entities completely independent of any educational service provider (e.g., must retain independent oversight authority of their charter schools, and cannot give away their authority via contract).

10F. Existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

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

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

New Mexico law provides requirements for fiscally and legally autonomous schools with independent charter school boards.

12

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. School governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law provides that charter schools must provide open enrollment to any student in the state.

New Mexico law provides that charters may either enroll students on a first-come, first-served basis or through a lottery selection process if the total number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available at the school.

New Mexico law provides that charter schools must give enrollment preference to students who have been admitted to the charter school through an appropriate admission process and remain in attendance through subsequent grades and siblings of students already admitted to or attending the same charter school.

It does not provide optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

4

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

12B. Lottery requirements.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

12D. Optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

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

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

New Mexico law provides the following parameters for exemptions:

* It allows a local school board to waive only locally imposed school district requirements for locally chartered charter schools.
* It provides that a state-chartered charter school is exempt from school district requirements.
* It requires the state department of education to waive requirements or rules and provisions of the Public School Code pertaining to individual class load, teaching load, length of the school day, staffing patterns, subject areas, purchase of instructional material, evaluation standards for school personnel, school principal duties, and driver education.
* It allows the state department of education to waive requirements or rules and provisions of the Public School Code pertaining to graduation requirements as long as the requirements are higher than the state’s.
* It provides that any waivers granted are for the term of the charter granted but may be suspended or revoked earlier by the department.

In practice, however, stringent regulations force applicants to request and explain the reasoning for such waivers.

New Mexico law requires charter school teachers to have the same certification requirements as traditional public school teachers. It requires charter schools to adhere to the same three-tiered salary schedule as traditional public schools and, for teachers who have been employed at the school for three consecutive years, adhere to the New Mexico School Personnel Act.

3

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

New Mexico law does not require any charter schools to be part of existing collective bargaining agreements.

12

14A. Charter schools authorized by non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.

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

New Mexico law is silent regarding these arrangements. In practice, the state allows independent public charter school boards to oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract, but does not require independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

2

15A. Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. 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

New Mexico law allows charter school students to participate in district activities sanctioned by the New Mexico Activities Association.

The law does not explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

3

16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at non-charter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law provides that: charter schools must comply with all applicable state and federal laws and rules related to providing special education services; charter school students with disabilities and their parents retain all rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its implementing state and federal rules; each charter school is responsible for identifying, evaluating, and offering a free appropriate public education to all eligible children who are accepted for enrollment in that charter school; and a state-chartered charter school, as a local educational agency, shall assume responsibility for determining students' needs for special education and related services.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

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

17B. 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).

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

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New Mexico law provides the amount of funding allocated to a charter school must be not less than ninety-eight percent of the school-generated program cost. It allows an authorizer to withhold and use two percent of the school-generated program cost for its administrative support of a charter school.

The law provides that portion of money from state or federal programs generated by students enrolled in a locally chartered charter school must be allocated to that charter school serving students eligible for that aid. In practice, the law is unevenly applied.

The law provides that when a state-chartered charter school is designated as a board of finance pursuant to state law, it must receive state and federal funds for which it is eligible.

The law provides that state-chartered charter schools may apply for all federal funds for which they are eligible. Locally-chartered schools must be included in their district’s consolidated federal application.

In a national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), New Mexico charter schools were receiving on average $9,240 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $9,907 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $667 per pupil - or 6.7% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals continued inequities for operational, categorical, and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).

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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.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New Mexico law provides lease payments for charter schools at $700 per student for 2012-13. The law pegs this amount to an inflation index to determine future year allotments.

The law allows the New Mexico Finance Authority to use public bond funds to construct charter facilities in a pilot program for up to seven charter schools. It allows funds loaned by the Finance Authority may be used for the acquisition of buildings, land, and facilities.

The law allows charter schools to access tax-exempt debt from counties.

The law requires school districts to share local facilities funds with public charter schools in a proportionate share to a charter’s enrollment. It allows these funds to be used as payments for approved lease-to-purchase agreements.

The law requires tax levy resolutions submitted by a district to the voters for approval to contain capital improvement funding for public charter schools that have an approved facility plan and that have been renewed one time. In practice, making this provision a reality has been a battle, especially for state-chartered schools.

The law allows charter schools to access public capital outlay grants through the Public School Capital Outlay Council in somewhat similar ways other public schools in the state.

The law requires the school district in which a charter school is geographically located to provide a charter school with available facilities for the school's operations unless the facilities are currently used for other educational purposes. It allows an agreement for the use of school district facilities by a charter school to provide for reasonable lease payments. Full implementation of the law has been problematic.

The law requires public charter schools to move to public buildings by 2015 or meet other conditions provided by law. For charter schools that are purchasing existing buildings or constructing new buildings, the law provides that such facilities must meet the average facility condition index of all public school buildings in the state.

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

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

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

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

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

19F. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.

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

19H. Prohibition of facility-related requirements stricter than those applied to traditional public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New Mexico law requires charter schools to participate 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).