Measuring Up

 



Wyoming

TOTAL SCORE:
87 out of 240

Rank: 40 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1995
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 4
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 500

While Wyoming’s law does not contain a cap on charter public school growth, it allows only local school district authorizers and provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability, and inequitable funding.

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

Do Wyoming's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Wyoming's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Wyoming 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

Wyoming 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

Wyoming law allows only local school boards to authorize charter schools. There is almost no authorizing activity.

0

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

Wyoming law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for authorizer and overall program accountability.

Wyoming law requires each district authorizer to report annually to the state board of education on each charter school operating within the district. The law specifies that the report must include achievement data and fiscal reports in the format required by the state, charter compliance information, an annual accreditation report, and a list of any complaints received by or about the charter school and the resolution of those complaints.

3

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

Wyoming law does not include any of the model law's provisions for adequate authorizer funding.

0

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

Wyoming law sets forth minimum required elements for all charter applications and additional application requirements specific to conversion schools. The law also requires the state superintendent to provide a uniform charter application “form” (that includes questions, guidelines, and evaluation criteria) that all districts and charter applicants must use.

The law requires a public hearing for any charter application, but does not require an in-person interview as part of the review process.

The law requires authorizers to make charter approval or denial decisions in a public meeting and state reasons for denial in writing.

8

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

Wyoming law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for performance-based charter contracts.

While Wyoming law requires contracts between charter schools and school districts, it does not require that these contracts be created as separate documents from the application. Instead, it states that an approved charter application shall serve as the basis for a contract between the charter school and the school district.

The law also provides that initial charter contracts may be granted for a term up to five years and permits a charter school and its authorizer to agree to extend the length of the charter beyond five years for the purpose of enhancing the terms of any lease or financial obligation.

4

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

Wyoming law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes.

Wyoming law also requires each district authorizer to report annually to the state board of education on each charter school operating within the district. The law specifies that the report must include achievement data and fiscal reports in the format required by the state, charter compliance information, an annual accreditation report, and a list of any complaints received by or about the charter school and the resolution of those complaints. These reports are public.

Wyoming law requires charter applicants to explain in their application "the manner in which an annual audit of the financial and programmatic operations of each charter school … is to be conducted.”

The charter law itself also does not empower authorizers to take corrective actions short of revocation to enforce the charter contract. Absent waivers approved by the state, however, charter schools are subject to the same accreditation requirements and reporting as other public schools in the district. These requirements provide that the district is responsible for all corrective actions required for accreditation purposes, but accreditation is substantively different from charter performance accountability.

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

Wyoming law requires charter schools to submit a renewal application to their district authorizer in order to seek renewal, containing a report on the charter school’s academic performance progress and a financial statement in a format required by the state board of education. The law also requires the state superintendent to provide a uniform renewal application “form” (that includes questions, guidelines, and evaluation criteria) that all charter schools and authorizers must use.

According to Wyoming law, a charter may be revoked or not renewed by the district board if the board determines that the charter school did any of the following: committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards or procedures set forth in the charter application; failed to meet or make reasonable progress toward achievement of the content standards or pupil performance standards identified in the charter application; 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 also states that a charter shall not be renewed upon a determination by the district board that it is not in the interest of the pupils residing within the school district to continue the operation of the charter school.

The law allows a charter to be renewed for up to five-year terms. It permits a charter school and its authorizer to agree to extend the length of the charter beyond five years for the purpose of enhancing the terms of any lease or financial obligation.

The law does not require a public hearing or opportunity for a school to make its case prior to a revocation or non-renewal decision. However, the law provides for an appeal to the state board of education in the event of non-renewal or revocation.

The law requires authorizers to make renewal, non-renewal or revocation decisions in an open meeting and to state reasons for non-renewal or revocation in writing.

While the law does not require authorizers to have school closure protocols, it does provide that the contract between the charter school and the school district shall provide that upon closure of the charter school any charter school assets purchased with public funds shall become the property of the school district. It also provides that upon closure of the charter school, all charter school records shall be promptly delivered to the school district.

8

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

Wyoming law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers.

Wyoming law permits charter schools to contract with any third party for services. The law does not explicitly state the need for a clear, substantive performance contract, but states that no charter school shall enter into a contract with an independent management company without the prior written consent of the district board and that the school district shall be a third-party beneficiary to any management contract approved by the district board.

Wyoming regulations state that charter school contracts for services and property are subject to the same procedures and restrictions that apply to all public schools and school districts and the same competitive bidding laws that apply to districts.

2

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

The law specifies that a charter school is a governmental entity and that its financial obligations shall not constitute debt or financial obligations of the school district unless the district board expressly assumes such obligations in writing.

Wyoming regulations permit charter schools to enter into contracts for services and property and state that charter schools shall have standing to sue and be sued in their own name for the enforcement of any contract. However, the law permits a charter school, with the consent of the school district, to delegate to the district its authority to negotiate and/or execute a service or property contract. In addition, the law states that the school district shall be the owner of all records of the charter school, including student, staff, and public affairs records of charter school operations.

Wyoming law allows charter schools to organize as a nonprofit corporation, but the law does not require an independent governing board with powers similar to other public school boards. Despite the law’s vagueness, Wyoming regulations indicate a presumption that each charter school is governed by a board of directors, but neither the law nor regulations are explicit on the independence, authority, and responsibilities of the board.

6

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

Wyoming law requires charter schools to provide open enrollment to any student in the state.

According to the law, a charter school shall be subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry or need for special education services; enrollment decisions shall be made in a nondiscriminatory manner specified by the charter school applicant in the charter school application; and enrollment decisions shall not discriminate against at-risk students or special program students.

4

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 for most state and district laws and regulations, Wyoming law provides that a charter school must request waivers of specified state regulations and school district policies.

Wyoming law provides that charter schools are not exempt from teacher certification requirements.

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

Wyoming law provides that charter schools are exempt from district collective bargaining agreements.

12

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

Wyoming 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

Wyoming law is silent about charter eligibility and access.

1

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

Wyoming law provides that the local school district authorizer is the local education agency for special education purposes and responsible for providing and funding services to charter schools.

2

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

Wyoming law does not include any of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding. There is no evidence of the amount of funds charter schools receive versus districts.

According to Wyoming law, as part of the charter school contract, the charter school and the school district shall agree on funding and any services to be provided by the school district to the charter school. The law provides that the charter school and the school district shall begin discussions on the contract using the following revenue assumptions:

* The charter school shall be entitled to the benefit of one hundred percent of the foundation program amount computed under state law based upon the average daily membership of the charter school, less certain amounts per state law.
* The charter school shall be entitled to the benefit of one hundred percent of the amount to be contributed to the school district under major maintenance payments pursuant to state law based upon the proportion that the charter school educational building gross square footage contributes to the district educational building gross square footage.

0

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

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

Wyoming law provides a charter school shall be entitled to the benefit of one hundred percent of the amount to be contributed to the school district under major maintenance payments pursuant to state law based upon the proportion that the charter school educational building gross square footage contributes to the district educational building gross square footage.

The law entitles charter schools to use available school district facilities free of rent, but does not give charter schools a right of first refusal on available public school facilities. The law also provides that all other costs for the improvement, modification, operation and maintenance of the facilities used by the charter school shall be subject to negotiation between the charter school and the district board.

According to the law, a charter school may negotiate and contract with a school district, the governing body of a state college or university, or any third party for the use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof, and the provision of any service, activity or undertaking that the charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter. The law provides that any services for which a charter school contracts with a school district shall be provided by the district at cost.

The law provides that all decisions regarding the planning, siting and inspection of charter school facilities shall be made in accordance with law and as specified by contract with the district board.

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

Wyoming law requires charter schools to participate in the state retirement system.

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

Wyoming law does not contain 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.