Oregon

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Oregon

1999
Year Charter School Law Was Enacted
126
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17
32,900
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17
129
out of
240
Total Score

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While Oregon’s law does not contain a cap on charter public school growth and provides adequate autonomy to charter schools, it also includes limited authorizing options, insufficient accountability, and inadequate funding.

Oregon’s law needs significant work on ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities. The law also needs to provide additional authorizing options for charter applicants and strengthen accountability for schools (including full-time virtual charter schools) and authorizers.

Component Scores

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

Oregon law does not place any caps on charter school growth. However, the law provides that if more than 3% of students residing in a district are enrolled in virtual charter schools not sponsored by that district, any additional resident students must receive approval from the district before enrolling in a virtual charter school. The law provides for a state appeal if the district does not give approval in such cases.

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?

Oregon law allows new start-ups 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?

Oregon law provides that local school boards are the only authorizers of first resort. If a local school board denies a proposal, an applicant may appeal the decision of the local school board to the state board of education or submit a proposal to an institution of higher education. If one of these entities approves the application, it becomes the authorizer.

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?

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law's provisions for authorizer and overall program accountability.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).

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
4A
Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.
No
4B
Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).
No
4C
Authorizer submission of annual report.
Some
4D
The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.
Some
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?

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law's provisions regarding adequate authorizer funding. Oregon law allows authorizers to retain a significant portion of charter school per-pupil funding, typically 20% for K-8 schools and 5% for high schools. The law does not mandate that these retained funds be spent on oversight.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
5A
A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.
No
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?

Oregon law sets forth a non-exclusive list of general requirements for the minimum content of charter school proposals and explicitly permits local school boards to require additional relevant information. The law includes additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
As part of the criteria that local school boards must use to evaluate a proposal, the law requires them to examine the prior history, if any, of the applicant in operating a public charter school or in providing educational services.

The law requires a public hearing but not an in-person interview as part of the application review process.

The law requires authorizers to make charter approval and denial decisions in an open meeting and to state reasons for denial in writing.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
6A
Application elements for all schools.
Yes
6B
Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
Yes
6C
Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.
Yes
6D
Additional application elements specific to replications.
Some
6E
Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.
No
6F
Application approval criteria.
Yes
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?

Oregon law requires the execution of a legally binding “charter” that is separate from the charter proposal. It provides that the charter is based on the proposal, but that the authorizer and the charter governing body may agree to change or exclude elements in developing the charter.
Oregon law provides that an initial charter term may not exceed five 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.
No
7B
Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.
No
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?

Oregon law requires each public charter school to report to its authorizer and the state board of education at least annually on the performance of the school and its students and on the school’s legal compliance.
The law requires charter schools to have sound financial management systems, including a budget and accounting system that is compatible with the authorizing district and meets requirements of the uniform budget and accounting system adopted by the state board of education. It also requires each charter school to have an annual financial audit prepared in accordance with the Municipal Audit Law, which must be submitted to the authorizer, the state board of education, and the state department of education.

Oregon law requires each authorizer or authorizer’s designee to visit the charter school at least annually to review the school’s compliance with the terms of its charter.

If the grounds for termination of a charter contract include failure to maintain a sound financial management system, the law allows the authorizer and the school to agree to develop a plan to correct deficiencies. The law allows the authorizer to withhold up to 50 percent of the moneys owed to the public charter school while the public charter school is on the plan to correct deficiencies unless the withholding would create an undue hardship, as determined pursuant to rules of the state board of education.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
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).
Yes
8C
Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.
Some
8D
Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.
Some
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?

Oregon law provides that charter schools seeking renewal must submit a renewal request to their authorizer and that the authorizer must hold a public hearing and then either grant or deny the renewal within a specified timeline after the public hearing. The law and regulations specify a timeline for the renewal decision-making process but also allow a charter school and authorizer to agree to a different timeline.
The law and regulations state the general criteria upon which authorizers are to base renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions. Regulations require authorizers to base renewal evaluation primarily on review of charter school annual performance reports, annual audits, annual site visits and review, and any other information mutually agreed upon.

Oregon law provides that the first renewal of a charter must be for the same duration as the initial charter and that subsequent renewals must be for a minimum of five years but may not exceed 10 years.

Regulations provide for a public hearing prior to a renewal or non-renewal decision. In the event of a non-renewal decision, regulations allow the school to submit a revised renewal request and appeal to the state board of education. They also require an authorizer to state in writing the reasons for non-renewal, and make renewal, non-renewal and revocation decisions subject to open-meetings requirements.

Oregon law requires an authorizer to provide at least 60 days notice to a charter school prior to revocation of a charter (which can be waived in case of an emergency), provide a public hearing upon request of the school, and state in writing the reasons for revocation. It also allows a charter school to appeal a revocation decision to the state board of education.

Regulations state generally how the assets of a closed charter school shall be distributed. However, they do not require authorizers to have school closure protocols as recommended in the model law.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
9A
Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.
Yes
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.
Yes
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.
Some
9H
Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.
Yes
9I
Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.
Yes
9J
Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).
Yes
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.
Some
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?

Oregon law provides that if a charter school chooses to contract with a for-profit management organization, the school must maintain a right of control over the contractor and provide procedural safeguards to affected members of the public in relation to those aspects of the school’s operations that constitute the governmental function of providing a public education. The law does not contain similar requirements for schools that contract with non-profit providers.
As part of the criteria that local school boards must use to evaluate a proposal, the law requires them to examine the prior history, if any, of the applicant in operating a public charter school or in providing educational services.

For charter schools approved by higher education institutions or for virtual charter schools that contract with a third party entity, the law includes conflict-of-interest provisions.

For virtual charter schools, the law prohibits any third party entity employees from serving on the school board and requires that school boards have access to ESP records and expenditures (including any profit margins) and prohibits any ESP employee from serving as a teacher in the charter school (and thus all teachers in a charter school are employees of that school and subject to criminal background requirements).

The aforementioned provisions do not apply to the rest of Oregon’s charter schools that may contract with an ESP.

Subcomponents

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

Oregon law explicitly provides for fiscal and legal autonomy and requires each charter school to be established as a nonprofit corporation with its own governing board.

Subcomponents

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

Are there clear student enrollment and lottery procedures?

Conversion schools are only open to those in the district, and as space allows to nonresidents. The law requires all charter schools to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
The law indicates that a preference for prior-year students may occur, but it is not required. The law is also silent on conversion school preferences.
For non-virtual charter schools, the law gives charter school enrollment preference to students residing in the district where the charter school is or will be located. If the number of applications from resident students exceeds the school’s capacity, the law requires an equitable lottery to select students. If space permits, non-resident students may enroll.
The law states that if more than 3% of students residing in a district are enrolled in virtual charter schools not sponsored by that district, any additional resident students must receive approval from the district before enrolling in a virtual charter school. The law provides for a state appeal if the district does not give approval in such cases.
The law allows limited enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students in conversions and, after a new-start school’s first year, for prior-year students and for siblings.
For the purpose of ameliorating the impact of discrimination against historically underserved students, a public charter school may select students through a weighted lottery that favors historically underserved students (defined as students who are at risk because of any combination of two or more factors including their race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and geographic location). This provision is set to expire on January 2, 2020.
The law provides that a public charter school may give priority for admission to students who reside within the attendance boundaries that were in effect at the time a school district closed a non-chartered public school if the public charter school began to operate not more than two years after the non- chartered public school was closed, the school district that closed the non-chartered public school is the sponsor of the public charter school, the public charter school is physically located within the attendance boundaries of the closed non-chartered public school, and the school district board, through board action, approved the public charter school giving priority.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
12A
Open enrollment to any student in the state.
Yes
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?

Oregon law provides that charter schools are automatically exempt from statutes and rules that apply only to school districts and district schools, except as provided for in the charter law and the school’s charter.
Oregon law provides that at least one-half of a charter school’s teachers must be licensed by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) and that the non-licensed staff must be registered by TSPC.

Subcomponents

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

Is there an automatic collective bargaining exemption?

Oregon law provides that charter schools are exempt from district collective bargaining agreements and personnel policies, though they may participate in a district bargaining unit by choice or organize separately.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
14A
Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.
Yes
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?

Oregon 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?

Oregon law is silent regarding charter eligibility and access.

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.
No
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?

Oregon law provides that responsibility for providing special education services resides with the school district in which a charter school is located and provides that the district of location is eligible to receive high-cost disabilities grants for charter school students from the state as provided by state law.

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.
Yes
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?

Oregon law provides that per-pupil funding for charter schools is 80% of the weighted Average Daily Maintenance (ADMw) funding formula for students in grades K-8 and 95% of ADMw for students in grades 9-12. The ADMw formula assumes that a charter school serves the same percentage of students in poverty as the district in which it is located.
Oregon law provides that special education funds go to the LEA of residence and establishes the minimum percentages of funds the resident district provides to the charter school.

In a national study of charter school funding (University of Arkansas, Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands, 2014), Oregon charter schools were receiving on average $5,835 per pupil in public funds, while traditional public schools would have received $9,843 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $4,008 per pupil - or 40.7% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals significant continued inequities for both operational and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
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.
No
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?

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding equitable access to capital funding and facilities. Oregon law provides that charter schools are eligible for bonds from the Oregon Facilities Authority.

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.
No
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.
No
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.
No
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?

Oregon law provides that all charter school employees must participate in the state retirement system.

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?

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding full-time virtual charter schools. Oregon law and includes some additional requirements for full-time virtual charter schools, covering things like record keeping, requirements if contracting with an ESP, and the provision of equipment, teachers, and other program services. The law also requires the inclusion of performance criteria the school must use to measure obtainment of academic performance goals and that the school must also monitor and track student progress and attendance.

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.
Some
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.