Did you know Delaware charter schools can open with as little as 20 students!

UPDATE 01/11/2015 4:00 p.m. Good debate in comment section whereas one are of the legislation was stricken but changes in another section clarifies moving same enrollment requirement. But there is more re: new charter applications  

SENATE BILL NO. 234 Jul 15, 2014 – Signed by Governor

§ 503 Legal status.

A charter school is a public school including 2 or more of grade kindergarten through 12 and having at least 200 students (provided, however, that a charter school may enroll fewer than 200 but no less than 100 students in its first 2 years of operation or for a charter school serving at-risk or special education students), managed by a board of directors, which operates independently of any school board, under a charter granted for an initial period of 4 school years of operation and renewable every 5 school years thereafter by a public school district or the State Department of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, “Department”) with the approval of the State Board of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, “State Board”), pursuant to this chapter. For purposes of this chapter as it relates to the management of a charter school, the board of directors of a charter school shall be a public body subject to the requirements of Chapter 100 of Title 29 and shall have the same standing and authority as a Reorganized School District Board of Education, except the power to tax. The Department with the approval of the State Board of Education may also approve a charter school which plans to enroll fewer than 200 students in special circumstances, such as an on-site charter school proposed by a business as an extension of an on-site early learning or day care center.

So now Title 14 Chapter 5 , 503 Legal Status read this and is current law: 

A charter school is a public school including 2 or more of grade kindergarten through 12 managed by a board of directors, which operates independently of any school board, under a charter granted for an initial period of 4 school years of operation and renewable every 5 school years thereafter by a public school district or the State Department of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, “Department”) with the approval of the State Board of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, “State Board”), pursuant to this chapter. For purposes of this chapter as it relates to the management of a charter school, the board of directors of a charter school shall be a public body subject to the requirements of Chapter 100 of Title 29 and shall have the same standing and authority as a Reorganized School District Board of Education, except the power to tax.

Folks charter schools are no longer required to have 200 students or more! A charter school can be 20 students as long as there are two grade levels. DE DOE cannot denial an application based on number of students. Folks, once charter organizers grasp the understanding of changes in this section of the law you can bet we’ll see micro-charter schools with 50 students. The Vine charter school application is for 180 students max between grades 6-8. 

House Bill 234 had multiple changes beyond required number of students and I don’t think our legislators comprehended the ramifications of not setting a minimum number of students required to open a charter school. There has been so much pressure on the State Auditor in concerns with charter schools his office just doesn’t have enough staff. It doesn’t matter if a school is 50 or 500 students, the audit process is the same. Same goes for Jenny and her DE DOE team. Charter schools and traditional public schools need effective ongoing oversight. And what about the LEAD report calling for consolidation of school districts? re: over bloated administration! All the micro-charter schools would required administration.  We’re going in the WRONG DIRECTION! We need to not allow micro-charter schools. DE DOE cannot use the number of students as a basis for denial! I think our legislators need to stop and look at this concern and repeal this section in the law and go back to the requirement of at least 200 students!

I have a hunch the modification of this section in the law has to do with Pre-K and Kindergarten. Once Pre-K becomes fully funded we’ll see charter schools for Pre-K and Kindergarten. There was an underlining motive aka agenda for the change! You can bet on that! 

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11 responses to “Did you know Delaware charter schools can open with as little as 20 students!

  1. Please look at the whole charter law, including the approval criteria. No application can be approved unless it’s financially viable. A charter school with 20 students could never be viable, and therefore, could not open.

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    • kilroysdelaware

      So where is the threshold to number of students are viability? I think the original law had that in consideration. As for H.B. 234 where is the impact study for this legislation?

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    • Actually, beyond just looking at the full charter law, if you had even looked at the full bill – http://www.legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis147.nsf/EngrossmentsforLookup/SB+234/$file/Engross.html?open
      You would notice the language was stricken in the 503 section and instead inserted in the 512 Approval criteria section, which quite frankly seems to make more sense than not stating it in the section which outlines the approval criteria that must be met.
      Criteria 8, now reads: “(8) The plan for the school is economically viable, based on a review of the school’s proposed budget of projected revenues and expenditures for the first 3 years, the plan for starting the school, and the major contracts planned for equipment and services, leases, improvements, purchases of real property and insurance, and enrollment of no less than 200 students at full enrollment and no less than 100 students during the first 2 years of operation or for a school with an enrollment preference to primarily serve special needs students;”
      So Citizen is correct, it does have to be economically viable and can’t be deemed such unless they meet the stated enrollment requirements which are what was previously in section 503

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  2. Suffice to say your blog post is completely incorrect, there are the same enrollment required numbers of 200 (100 in the first two years) in code and they were a part of SB234

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  3. These are just submitted applications. They aren’t charter schools yet, and they may not be approved. If they have so many problems, they likely won’t be approved. Calm down!

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    • kilroysdelaware

      Calm down 🙂 LOL 🙂 Half the shit the goes wrong in this state is because people wait until all said and done whereas the indoctrination begins. Now is the time to review and debate and engage! SURE, we / me can get ahead of myself! But it beat sitting around with thumbs up our asses then try to undo what has been approved. HOWEVER. the only positive comment I can say 100% is we have a potential charter school that “is” offering something different and unique, year round school / balanced calendar. And if parents want and understand what it means more power to them. But being that different should be the sole basis for approval.

      So what types of problems in an application do you see as a deal breaker?

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    • I thought I had already posted this but based on the SBE agenda, these applications are in the preliminary review process, neither might be approved for full application consideration. I hadn’t looked at the VINE application yet, Kilroy but it seems very clear that if they aren’t going to have 200 students in the school, they wouldn’t be able to be approved because they wouldn’t meet the minimum requirements of enrollment per code.
      Here is what’s on the SBE agenda:
      “Summary
      511(d) The Department shall make an initial review of all new charter school and charter school modification applications it receives in order to assess the completeness and quality of each such application based on the application submission criteria established in this title. Upon a finding that an application does not warrant a full review, the Department shall notify the applicant in writing of the deficiency or deficiencies and the application shall receive no further consideration.

      New Charter School Applications
      Lean Tech Academy (Patsy Pipkin-Perry)
      Vine Preparatory (Chonda Jackson)

      Major Modification Applications
      Academia Antonia Alonso – Decrease in student enrollment
      Early College High School – removal of enrollment preferences
      Freire – Decrease in student enrollment & removal of enrollment preference”

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    • kilroysdelaware

      Thanks HMS. I am sure the reason the application and all other charter information is for the public view and what we are discussing and debating is part of the reason for this transparency. Sure even I get things twisted and will fess up. But now is the time for those concerned to review and weigh-in.

      Vine application does raise some flags on enrollment number. But I wonder if DE DOE is going to go back after initial review of application and say you need 20 more students. Which I doubt!

      Right or wrong things do need to be debated! So 100% thank you and Citizen for engaging. We need more of it on the front end instead of after the fact and too late to make an impact

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  4. Joanne Christian

    Kilroy–Balanced calendar isn’t unique and isn’t different as a first. SEAFORD began probably 5+ years ago. I would LOVE to have it as a choice within district up here. What’s the big deal to pick one elementary, and one middle school in a district and make that the assigned balanced calendar school in the district if there’s support? Heck you usually have to keep one of those age demographic buildings completely open anyway for summer school or DFP programs or whatever. I’m not thrilled having all the time off in the summer, hate the winter, and would prefer to vacation then. Unfortunately, people can’t get their heads around a set-up of go for 6-9 weeks, then have off 3-4 weeks or whatever it works out to be in adding up the same time in class. They just want to shut down on thinking NO SUMMERS OFF, as if there is no break when in reality they would be getting a minimal 3 weeks off—and again in the fall—winter–spring—and holidays. The biggest bunch of baloney are the educators who cry summer brain drain all of September, but won’t budge to help the situation out by even trialing this in their districts. We hear “oh they work all summer preparing, and planning……”, but then they sure don’t want to work officially in the classroom for the summer. So I guess they can keep being frustrated with brain drain and deal with it—because any chance of it being mitigated by regularly spaced appropriate lengths of time off for students is blowing up their notion of “the summer off” er I mean planning and preparation time. 21st century skills brought to you by 19 and 20th century values and mindsets.

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