Alaska

lead image

1995
Year Charter School Law Was Enacted
29
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2017-18
7,000
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2017-18
83
out of
240
Total Score

Download the 1-Pager

Download Now

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

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

Component Scores

Are there caps on the growth of charter schools in this state?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
1A
No numeric or geographic limits are placed on the number of charter public schools or students.
N/A
1B
If caps exist, there is room for growth.

Are a variety of charter schools allowed?

Alaska law allows new starts and public school conversions.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
2A
New startups.
Yes
2B
Public school conversions.

Are non-district authorizers available to which charter applicants may directly apply?

Alaska law requires applicants to apply to their local school boards. If the local school board approves the application, the local school board must forward the application to the state board of education and early development for review and approval.
If a local school board denies an application, the applicant may appeal the denial to the state commissioner of education. The law allows the state commissioner to remand the appeal to the local school board for further review, approve the application and forward it to the state board of education, or uphold the denial by a local school board.

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

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
3A
The state allows an applicant anywhere in the state to apply directly to a non-district authorizer(s).

Is an authorizer and overall program accountability system required?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
4A
Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.
N/A
4B
Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).
No
4C
Authorizer submission of annual report.
No
4D
The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.
No
4E
The ability for the state to sanction an authorizer for poor performance, including suspending an authorizer’s authority to approve new schools.
No
4F
Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

Is there adequate authorizer funding?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
5A
A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.
Yes
5B
Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.
No
5C
Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.
No
5D
Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

Are there transparent charter application, review, and decisionmaking processes?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
6A
Application elements for all schools.
No
6B
Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
No
6C
Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.
No
6D
Additional application elements specific to replications.
No
6E
Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.
No
6F
Application approval criteria.
Some
6G
All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

Are performance-based charter contracts required?

Alaska law requires charter contracts, but the requirements only concern school roles, powers, and responsibilities and don’t address authorizer roles, powers, and responsibilities.
The law requires the contract to provide specific levels of achievement for the school's education program, but does not require a more detailed performance framework.

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
7A
Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.
Some
7B
Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.
Some
7C
Defining academic, financial, and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.
Some
7D
Providing an initial term of five operating years.

Are there comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
8A
Required annual school performance reports.
Some
8B
Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., generally accepted accounting principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).
Some
8C
Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.
No
8D
Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.
No
8E
Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.
No
8F
Authorizer may not request duplicative data submission from its charter schools and may not use performance framework to create cumbersome reporting requirements.

Are there clear processes for renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
9A
Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.
No
9B
Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.
No
9C
Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.
No
9D
Ability to have a differentiated process for renewal of high-performing charter schools.
Yes
9E
Authorizers must use clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.
No
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.
No
9G
Requirement that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Yes
9H
Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.
No
9I
Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.
No
9J
Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).
No
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.
No
9L
Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.
No
9M
Any transfer of charter contracts from one authorizer to another are only allowed if they are approved by the state.

Is there transparency regarding educational service providers?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
10A
All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are allowed to operate all or parts of schools.
No
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.
No
10C
A performance contract is required between the independent charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.
No
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.
No
10E
Provides that charter school governing boards must have access to ESP records necessary to oversee the ESP contract.
No
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.
No
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.

Are the schools fiscally and legally autonomous with independent charter school boards?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
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).
No
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).
No
11C
Independent school governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

Are there clear student enrollment and lottery procedures?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
12A
Open enrollment to any student in the state.
No
12B
Anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.
No
12C
Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions and for prior-year students within charter schools.
Yes
12D
Lottery requirements.

Is there automatic exemption from many state and district laws and regulations?

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

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

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
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.
No
13B
Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

Is there an automatic collective bargaining exemption?

Alaska state statute requires that public school teachers, including public charter school teachers, collectively bargain. It requires that collective bargaining address 10 topics: wages, fringe benefits, hours, length of preparation periods, terms and conditions of employment, extracurricular duties, leave, transfers and reassignment, layoffs, and grievance procedures. Two topics are expressly excluded from bargaining: length of the teacher school year and class load or size.Alaska law requires all charter schools to be part of existing collective bargaining agreements, but schools can apply for exemptions.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, Alaska allowed unions to impose mandatory agency fees on non-members. The Supreme Court decision renders that state law unconstitutional. As a result of the decision, the Alaska governor took a step to affirm that the state will not play a role in encouraging or discouraging union membership by issuing an administrative order in August 2018 asserting that the state as an employer remains neutral with respect to membership in an employee organization and will not, for example, share employee information with any third parties — including unions.
Alaska state statute allows for a group of employees to challenge an existing representative if at least 30 percent of a proposed collective bargaining unit want to be represented by a new exclusive representative. If the state labor relations agency has reasonable cause to believe that a question of representation exists, it conducts a hearing and directs a secret ballot. The state labor relations agency determines the rules of the elections and eligibility to vote. If no choices receive a majority, there will be a runoff. An organization will be certified as an exclusive representative if it wins a majority of votes cast. Votes may not be held more than once a year. Collective bargaining agreements cannot bar a petition for a new vote if more than three years have elapsed since the agreement or its renewal.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
N/A
14A
Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.
Some
14B
Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

Are multischool charter contracts and/or multicharter contract boards allowed?

Alaska law is silent regarding these arrangements.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
15A
Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.
No
15B
Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

Is there eligibility and access to extracurricular and interscholastic activities?

Alaska law explicitly allows 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.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
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.
Yes
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.

Is there clear identification of special education responsibilities?

Alaska law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities. Regulations state that each district shall administer a program offering special education and related services in order to provide a free appropriate public education program for children with disabilities ages 3 to 21, including children enrolled in charter schools.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
17A
Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.
No
17B
Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.
No
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).
No
17D
Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

Is there equitable operational funding and equal access to all state and federal categorical funding?

Alaska law includes some of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding, and there is no evidence of the amount of funds charters receive versus districts.
Alaska law requires a local school board to provide a charter school with an annual program budget which shall not be less than the amount generated by the students enrolled in the charter school less administrative costs retained by the school district, determined by applying the indirect cost rate approved by the department up to four percent. Costs directly related to charter school facilities, including rent, utilities, and maintenance, may not be included in an annual program budget for the purposes of calculating the four percent cap on administrative costs.

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

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

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
18A
Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.
No
18B
Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.
Yes
18C
Funding for transportation similar to school districts.
No
18D
Annual report offering district and charter school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements.

Is there equitable access to capital funding and facilities?

Alaska’s law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for equitable access to capital funding and facilities.
Alaska law provides that charter schools are eligible through their local municipalities to access tax-exempt financing through the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority.

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

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

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Facilities Funding
No
19A
A per-pupil facilities allowance that annually reflects actual average district capital costs.
No
19B
A state grant program for charter school facilities.
Yes
19C
Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to noncharter public schools.
Access to Public Space
No
19D
A requirement for districts to provide school district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that schools’ students reside in that district.
Yes
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
No
19F
A state loan program for charter school facilities.
Yes
19G
Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allowing charter schools to have their own bonding authority
No
19H
Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms.
No
19I
The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund.
No
19J
The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding and mill levy requests.
No
19K
A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for charter school facilities.
Other
No
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.
No
19M
Certain entities allowed to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.
Yes
19N
Charter school facilities exempt from ad valorem taxes and other assessment fees not applicable to other public schools.

Is there access to relevant employee retirement systems?

Alaska law requires participation in the relevant employee retirement systems.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
20A
Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.
No
20B
Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).

Are there provisions for full-time virtual charter schools?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
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.
No
21B
Legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.
No
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.
No
21D
Accountability provisions that include virtual-specific goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, and attrition.
No
21E
Funding levels per student based on costs proposed and justified by the operators.
No
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.