Measuring Up to the Model



Wyoming

TOTAL SCORE:
87 out of 228

Rank: 37 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1995
Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  4
Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  382

Wyoming did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking.

Wyoming’s score stayed at 87 points.  Its ranking went from #36 to #37.

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, and ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

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

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

N/A

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Wyoming law allows new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools.

8

2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Wyoming law allows only local school boards to authorize charter schools, and 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 lacks most 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. The law does not require the annual report to summarize the authorizer’s authorizing activities.

However, it does not require at least a registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state, authorizer submission of an annual report that summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio, a regular review process by authorizer oversight body, and an authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

3

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

Wyoming law includes none of the model law's provisions for adequate authorizer funding.

0

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

Wyoming law sets forth minimum required elements for all charter applications, but they are very general and less substantial than the essential elements recommended in the model law. The law also requires the state superintendent to provide a uniform charter application “form” (questions, guidelines, and evaluation criteria) that all districts and charter applicants must use. The form developed by the state superintendent contains content similar to the essential elements recommended in the model law, but does not contain elements specific to virtual schools, educational service providers, or replications.

The law includes additional requirements for conversions.

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 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

Wyoming law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for performance-based charter contracts. However, Wyoming law requires an approved charter application to 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. 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

Wyoming law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes. However, 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.”

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.
While the law requires authorizers to report data, it does not address how authorizers are to collect and analyze student outcome data each year and does not require authorizers to produce and publish annual school performance reports aligned with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract.

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. 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

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” (questions, guidelines, and evaluation criteria) that all charter schools and authorizers must use. The content of the form developed by the state superintendent is consistent with the intent of the model law.

The law states grounds for non-renewal or revocation, but not renewal.

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 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.

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.

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. 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

Wyoming law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers. However, 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 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 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

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

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Wyoming law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for clear student recruitment, enrollment, and lottery procedures. However, Wyoming law requires charter schools to provide open enrollment to any student in the state.

Also, while Wyoming law does not require a charter school to determine enrollment by lottery if it is oversubscribed, charter schools in Wyoming conduct enrollment lotteries, and their charter agreements require it.

2

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

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 non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside 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. 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

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 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

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.

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

Wyoming law includes none of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding, and there is no evidence of the amount of funds charters receive versus districts.

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.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Wyoming law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for equitable access to capital funding and facilities. However, Wyoming law provides that a charter school operating in a district facility is entitled to a proportionate share of its district’s major maintenance funding (under the Wyoming School Facilities Commission’s Major Building & Facility Repair & Replacement Program), based on the gross square footage of the facility. This funding does not include dollars for capital improvements.

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.

There is nothing in statute regarding the purchasing of buildings for public charter schools. In 2013, however, the state’s budget bill included a $4 million appropriation for the Albany County School District #1 to purchase a commercial building in which a public charter school is located. In effect, it will be a district-owned building purchased solely for the purpose of housing a public charter school. It is the first time that such a step has been taken in the state.

4

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

Wyoming law provides 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).