[r91] Charting a new course for Indiana Education (2/14/2011)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Start Date: 2/14/2011 All Day
End Date: 2/14/2011
STATEHOUSE- House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), State Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan (D-Indianapolis) and State Rep. Cindy Noe (R-Indianapolis) co-authored House Bill 1002, which will enable charter schools to prosper and lead Indiana toward offering more high quality educational options for all students. The bill addresses many of the obstacles that have prohibited charter school expansion since charter schools were first authorized in Indiana in 2001.

House Bill 1002 made it out of the Education Committee after eight and a half hours of testimony and debate, to then be heard on the House floor for a second reading. The second reading lasted throughout the night at Monday's session.  The bill faced 63 amendments, twelve of which were adopted on a bipartisan basis. 

"We have been diligent in our quest to ensure bipartisan input," said Rep. Behning.

"This isn't a partisan issue, this isn't a Republican issue, this is simply about education options for Hoosier children," said Speaker Bosma.  "Charter schools are no silver bullet, but they are a significant element of a balanced public school system with options for all students," said Speaker Bosma.

The Charter school bill passed in the House with bipartisan support and will now move to the Senate to be heard.

The main provisions of House Bill 1002 are:

. Charter School Board- Establishes the Charter School Board (CSB) as an additional  statewide sponsor of charter schools.
. Sponsors- Allows the executive of a second class city and non-proprietary private universities and colleges approved by the State Board of Education to serve as eligible charter school sponsors.
. Accountability- If a charter school has been placed in either of the two lowest categories or designations under the state school accountability system for at least three consecutive years and the school has been in operation for more than five years then the state board shall hold a hearing and invoke one or more of the accountability measures, unless there is justification for the school's performance under the state school accountability system
. Charter School Charters- Adds student academic growth, financial performance and stability, and board performance and stewardship to the list of items to be included in a charter school's charter.
. Transparency- To prevent sponsor shopping, organizer is required to list any applications submitted in the last 5 years in their charter proposal.
. Conversion Charter Employees- Stipulates that a teacher in a conversion charter school may be an employee of just the charter school or of the charter school and the school corporation as determined in a charter school's charter. 
. Conversion Charter Schools- Stipulates that a school that has been in the lowest two designations for two or more consecutive years cannot be sponsored by that school's governing board. 
. Buildings- Allows charter schools to lease or purchase unused school buildings owned by school corporations for which less than 10% of the building is being utilized for direct student instruction and no offer to purchase has been executed.
. Transportation- A charter school may receive a distribution from the resident corporation transportation fund levy based on the students who are enrolled in the charter school in the same county where they legal settlement in the school corporation's district. However, the school corporation and the charter may enter into a school transportation plan, whereby the school corporation would transport the charter school students without charge.
. Grant and Loan Program- Provides that charters will have access to federal funds for the purpose of financing charter school facilities. 
. Health Insurance- Allows charter schools to opt into the state health insurance plans
. Limitation on Severance Packages- A school board may not grant a severance package in excess of a year's salary to any public school employee. This provision applies to traditional public schools and charter schools.