Measuring Up

 



Louisiana

TOTAL SCORE:
161 out of 240

Rank: 9 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1995
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 146
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 84,400

Louisiana’s law does not cap charter public school growth, includes multiple authorizers, provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability, and provides relatively equitable operational and categorical funding to charter schools. However, it does not provide equitable facilities funding to charter schools.

Potential areas for improvement are ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.

Do Louisiana's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Louisiana's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

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

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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

Louisiana law allows new start-ups and public school conversions. Louisiana law divides them into types: Type 1 (new start-up approved by local school board); Type 2 (new start-up or public school conversion approved by state board of education); Type 3 (public school conversion approved by local school board); Type 3B (a former type 5 charter school transferred from the recovery school district to the administration and management of the transferring local school system); Type 4 (new start-up or public school conversion based on contract between local school board and state board of education), and Type 5 (public school conversion transferred to the recovery school district and authorized by the state board of education).

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2A. New startups.

2B. Public school conversions.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Louisiana law allows two types of authorizers: local school boards and the state board of education.

12

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

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

Louisiana law requires each authorizer to report to the state board of education on the number of schools chartered, the status of those schools, and any recommendations by July first of each year. It does not require that these reports summarize the performance of the authorizer’s school portfolio.

Statute requires the state board of education to publish an annual report that covers all public schools including charter schools and includes a report on the implementation of a total system of choice.

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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

Louisiana law allows authorizers to annually charge each charter school it authorizes a fee in an amount equal to two percent of per-pupil funding for administrative overhead costs incurred by the chartering authority for considering the charter application and any amendment thereto, providing monitoring and oversight of the school, collecting and analyzing data of the school, and reporting on school performance.

At least thirty days prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, Louisiana law requires each authorizer to provide each charter school with a projected budget detailing anticipated administrative overhead costs and planned uses for fees charged for such costs. By not later than ninety days following the end of each fiscal year, the law requires the authorizer to provide each charter school an itemized accounting of all administrative overhead costs. Additionally, by not later than ninety days following the end of each fiscal year, the law requires the authorizer to provide each charter school an itemized accounting of the actual cost of each purchased service provided to the charter school.

Louisiana law allows a charter school to contract with its authorizer for the direct purchase of specific services in addition to those included in administrative overhead costs. The law requires the authorizer to provide such services at the actual costs incurred by the authorizer and requires the amount paid by a charter school for such purchased services to be in accordance with a written agreement entered into for this purpose. It provides that such agreement must be negotiated and executed prior to the beginning of each school year and that absent such an agreement the authorizer has no authority to withhold from the charter school any funds relative to providing such services. The law also allows transportation costs to be acquired via contract at below cost if both parties agree.

Louisiana law allows an authorizer to provide other services for a charter school and charge the actual cost of providing such services, but provides that no such arrangement must be required as a condition for authorizing the charter school.

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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

Louisiana law provides application elements for all schools and additional application elements specific to conversion schools and educational service providers. The law requires the state board of education to develop a common charter school application and timelines to be used by all authorizers and a process for authorizing multiple charter schools via one application for charter schools with a record of success.

Type 2, 4, and 5 applications must be submitted to the state board of education pursuant to a charter application process established by regulation, in the form of a request for applications that must include the requirements for applications. Regulations require that the release of a request for applications include public notice, notice to national, regional, and state organizations that support charter schools, and notice to all known interested parties.

State law requires local school board authorizers to also engage in a transparent application review process that complies with the latest Principles and Standards for Quality Charter Schools Authorizers as promulgated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, including the public posting of all application forms, timelines, and processes for review and the use of an independent evaluation of the proposal by a third party.

Louisiana law requires that decisions on charter applications be made by formal vote at official meetings of the public entities responsible and requires written explanation of reasons for denial.

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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

Louisiana law and state board of education policy established through formal rulemaking define the requirements for charter contracts, covering many performance, financial, and operational criteria.

The law and policy provide that the charter contract represents the legal agreement between the state board of education and the school, which defines the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The law and policy also require charter schools authorized by districts to operate pursuant to the rights and responsibilities laid out in a charter contract.

The law and policy provide that charter contracts must include specific student performance, financial, and legal and contractual standards that must be met by the charter operator during the term of the charter contract.

Under Louisiana law, initial charters are issued for four years and may be extended for the maximum initial term of five years contingent on a performance evaluation made after the third year.

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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

State rules dictate that a charter school must provide its authorizer with an annual performance report addressing academic performance in that year. In addition, per state board rule, each charter school receives a school performance score as part of the state’s assessment and accountability program, with detailed procedures adopted in state board rule for a school’s initial years and then for its sixth year of operation and thereafter.

Louisiana law requires that charter schools be evaluated annually on the timely submission of budgets, audits, annual financial reports, and all other financial reporting and compliance
with applicable financial budgeting, accounting, and auditing laws, regulations, and procedures.

Under state law, certain methods and procedures for monitoring a charter school by the authorizer must be established in the charter agreement.

The law requires the state board of education to evaluate a charter school's performance based on the state department of education's oversight and monitoring of the charter school's compliance with its statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations and all reporting requirements. The law requires the state board to communicate its assessments to the schools. Via state regulations, the state board has established performance benchmarks by year of operation and if a school falls short, the state board may require corrective steps to be taken by the school. These provisions are only applicable to charters authorized by the state board of education, not to charters authorized by local school boards.

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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

Louisiana law requires each charter school to provide a comprehensive report to its chartering authority at the end of its the third year. If the charter school is achieving its stated goals and objectives pursuant to its approved charter, then the authorizer must extend the charter for the additional two-year period as provided in law. It does not require a similar report at the end of its fifth year of operation.

Louisiana law requires schools seeking renewal to apply for it and requires each chartering authority to share their renewal criteria and procedures with their schools.

State law requires that any charter school overseen by a local school board is automatically renewed if it has met or exceeded the benchmarks established in accordance with the school and district accountability systems, has demonstrated growth in student achievement, and has had no significant audit findings for the three consecutive years prior to its consideration for renewal.

Louisiana law provides that no charter shall be renewed unless the charter renewal applicant can demonstrate, using standardized test scores, improvement in the academic performance of pupils over the term of the charter school's existence.

Louisiana regulation provides that state-authorized charter school in Louisiana receiving an academically unacceptable performance label based on state assessment and accountability program results from the school’s fourth year of operation (or for subsequent renewals, the year prior to the submission of a renewal application) will not be eligible for renewal unless certain conditions are met.

Louisiana law provides that an authorizer may revoke a charter contract if the school failed to improve the academic performance of students on standardized tests over the term of the charter school's existence, committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures provided for in the approved charter, failed to meet or pursue within the agreed timelines any of the academic and other educational results specified in the approved charter, failed to meet generally accepted accounting standards of fiscal management, or violated any provision of law applicable to a charter school, its officers, or its employees.

Louisiana law allows charter contracts to be renewed for additional periods of not less than three nor more than ten years after thorough review by the approving chartering authority of the charter school's operations and compliance with charter requirements.

Louisiana law requires authorizers to notify schools in writing of any decisions made relative to renewal or non-renewal of a school’s charter not later than January 31st of the year in which the charter would expire.

Under state regulations, prior to meeting to present a recommendation of revocation of any charter authorized by the state board of education, the state department of education must notify the charter operator of the reasons. Regulations provide that the school must have an opportunity to provide input and a hearing must be held consistent with due process protections. These provisions are only applicable to charters authorized by the state board of education, not to charters authorized by other entities.

The law requires that revocation decisions must be made by a majority vote at a formal meeting of the local district board or the state board of education.

State board rule details procedures for asset recordkeeping and disposition in the event of a school closure. However, they don’t ensure timely parent notification and orderly student and record transitions.

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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

State board rule requires schools that plan to contract with an educational service provider (ESP) to include the details of such contracts in their charter applications. Such details must include performance data for current or past schools operated by the ESP, evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth, the material terms of the performance contract, and any existing or potential conflicts of interest. They also require charter school boards to operate legally and fiscally independent of any ESP.

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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

Under Louisiana law, a charter school is an independent public school, regardless of type. The law provides that charter schools can exercise the powers needed to perform any necessary function. It also specifies that governing boards operate independently of authorizers and that all charter schools except Type 4 charters must be organized as non-profit corporations under applicable federal and state laws. Law is explicit that for charters overseen by the state board of education, the board of directors of each charter operator must exercise final authority in matters affecting the charter school including, but not limited to, staffing, financial accountability, and curriculum.

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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

Depending on the type of charter, some restrictions on the enrollment area exist.

Louisiana law includes anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.

Louisiana law requires charter schools to use an admissions lottery if the total number of eligible applicants exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school.

For each type of charter school except Types 3B and 5, state law specifies the minimum and/or maximum percentage of at-risk pupils that shall attend each type of charter school.

The law provides that previously enrolled students in conversion schools and students previously enrolled at a charter school and their siblings are exempt from the lottery.

Louisiana law permits a charter school to create admission requirements, which may include specific requirements related to a school’s mission such as auditions for schools with a performing arts mission or proficiency in a foreign language for schools with a language immersion mission. This provision does not apply to Types 3B and 5 charter schools.

All types of charter schools except Type 2 charter schools may also include enrollment preferences for students residing within geographic boundaries immediately surrounding each school, although Type 5 schools cannot have more than 50% of such students in each grade. Type 2 charter schools may establish residency requirements to include all students living within the state or as restricted to a particular parish or parishes.

Law also permits enrollment preferences of up to 50% of the enrollment for dependent children of permanent employees of a corporate partner.

For the process of enrolling students for the 2013-2014 school year, state board rule requires the state department of education to manage a pilot program wherein the department shall allow an enrollment preference for those students matriculating or transferring into ninth grade or above between eligible state board-authorized charter schools for a limited percentage of the seats in the charter school, to be determined by the department.

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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

Notwithstanding any state law, rule, or regulation to the contrary and except as provided in the state's charter school law and as may be otherwise specifically provided for in an approved charter, Louisiana law provides that charter schools are exempt from all rules and regulations of the state board and those of any local school board that are applicable to public schools and to public school officers and employees.

Louisiana law provides that teachers within charter schools do not need to meet state certification requirements. The law instead requires that charter teachers have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree.

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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

Louisiana law requires the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement entered into by the local school board in whose jurisdiction the charter school is located to apply to such charter schools, unless its approved charter provides otherwise. A charter operator may select to not be subject to such a collective bargaining agreement in its charter. This provision does not apply to Type 5 charter schools, which are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreement.

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

Louisiana law allows charter schools that have a letter grade designation of an A or B and have met the criteria for automatic renewal to open and operate two additional schools serving the same grade levels and the same enrollment boundaries as defined in the charter agreement without formal application to the authorizer. Instead, the law requires the schools to provide a notice of intent to their authorizers. The law requires authorizers to enter into a charter agreement for such additional schools.

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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

Louisiana 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

The law provides that any Type 2 or 5 charter school shall be considered the local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions pursuant to rules adopted by the state board. The law provides that the local school board shall remain the local education agency for any Type 1, 3, or 4 charter school. The law provides that a Type 5 charter school shall have the option to remain its own local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions upon conversion to a Type 3B charter school pursuant to rules adopted by the state board. The law requires that any funding associated with a student qualifying for special education funds shall flow directly to the school.

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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

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

Louisiana law makes the funding requirements and allocation process clear for each charter type.

The law provides that those approved by local school boards receive their money through them, while those approved by the state board or a local charter authorizer receive funding directly from the state.

Statute indicates that charter schools have access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding.

It also provides some funding for transportation within the allocations provided to charter schools.

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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.

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

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

Louisiana law provides the Louisiana Charter School Start-Up Fund, which provides zero-interest loans for both new and existing charter schools of up to $100,000 with terms of up to three years. It allows the loans to be used for facility acquisition, upgrade, and repairs. The state is not currently funding this program.

Louisiana law provides that charter schools are eligible to access tax-exempt financing through the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority.

Louisiana law requires local school boards to make available to chartering groups any vacant school facilities or any facility slated to be vacant for lease or purchase at fair market value.

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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

Louisiana law provides charter schools with the option to participate in the relevant state employee retirement systems, except that it requires Type 4 charter schools to participate.

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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

Louisiana law does not include any of the model law’s provisions regarding 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.