July 29, 2009

/ 29 July 2009 / Parents United
July 29, 2009

Update for July 29, 2009 — From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director </p>

? Further Analysis of the 2009 Legislative Session – Part 3?


What Happened at the Capitol during Session 2009 and how will it affect my school come September?

This is the third update in our ongoing attempt to share a bit of analysis and greater information about the provisions in the 2009 E12 Education Bill that will affect our schools during the next two years.

In the previous updates I talked about the funding provisions in Article 1 – General Education and provisions from Article 2 – Education Excellence dealing with testing and the GRAD rule, use of the growth model to report academic progress for state report cards, and increased requirements for pre-licensed teachers in comprehensive scientifically-based reading instruction. If you have missed any of these updates, they are readily available at our website.

FYI: An official bill summary is available, but if you have questions about specific provisions that you have been tracking, please email me.

Article 2 – HF 2, Education Excellence:

Three provisions in this article are worth your attention: The establishment of a P-20 Education Partnership, the authority to create district site-governed schools, and new parameters for charter schools.

1. Minnesota’s P-20 Education Partnership (Section 58)
Minnesota has had a P-16 (pre-school through college) education partnership for several years in an ad hoc fashion. This provision expands the vision, legislates membership adding to the current participants of the P-16, establishes meeting procedures, and defines its powers and duties. The stated intent of the partnership is to create a “seamless education system.” It is required that the partnership submit an annual report by January 15 that summarizes its progress and includes recommendations for “maximizing student achievement and promoting effective resource use.” The provision directs the partnership to seek outside expertise to complete their work.

2. District Site-governed Schools (Section 33)
This is an interesting provision. It is an opportunity for a group of licensed professionals and parents to submit a proposal to their school board to approve the creation of a site-governed school within the district. Some have said this allows parents and educators to have the flexibility of a “charter” school that is still governed by a locally elected school board.

There are very clearly stated rules and responsibilities for site-governed schools: they are exempt from statutes and rules that govern charters, and performance standards and expectations that include student achievement targets must be agreed to between school board and site council; a memorandum of understanding is required between the school board and the collective bargaining unit for determining the length of the school day and year, work rules and the selection of teachers and other staff for the site; and the district and site council must enter into an agreement identifying the “powers and duties, roles and responsibilities, revenue and education performance standards to be delegated to the site.”

It was mentioned in testimony that Minnesota may be the first state in the Union with this type of legislation.

3. Charter Schools (Section 41)
At the request of the legislature, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) provided a report on charter schools in June 2008. The report focused on the need for greater oversight of and training for sponsors, administrators and board members of charter schools.

Much of the legislation in the 2009 Omnibus Bill was responding to that report.

  • Student achievement is now included in the list of purposes for charter schools and clarifies that they are “not to reestablish a school that would otherwise be closed.”
  • Changes the terminology from a “Sponsor” of a charter school to an “Authorizer.”
  • Lists organizations that are eligible to authorize charter schools: “…charitable organizations that under the federal tax code are nonpublic sectarian or religious institutions or their affiliates and charitable organizations that for federal tax purposes describe their activities that indicate a religious purpose are ineligible to become an authorizer.”
  • Requires authorizers to participate in Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) approved training.
  • Current authorizers must apply to the Commissioner of Education by June 30, 2011 for approval to continue as an authorizer.
  • Commissioner must review an authorizer’s performance at least once every five years.
  • Requires at least five unrelated parties to serve as members of the initial and ongoing board of directors.
  • Makes meeting records and financial information publicly available.
  • Requires “board members to attend MDE approved training on specified topics and prevents untrained board members from continuing to serve on the board.”
  • Requires an “ongoing board to be elected by the end of the third year.”
  • Prohibits an individual with a conflict of interest from serving as a member of a charter school board.
  • Makes CFO and chief administrative officers nonvoting board members.
  • Makes “an individual related to an authorizer who participates in an aspect of the charter school process ineligible to serve as a board member.”
  • Requires a charter school to prepare and distribute an annual report.
  • Requires an authorizer to submit a formal charter school evaluation to the commissioner for review and comment before the authorizer charters a school or renews a charter school contract.
  • Establishes a formula “for calculating fees that an authorizer may charge a charter school for evaluating the fiscal, operational, and student performance of the charter school.”
  • Requires the authorizer to submit a statement of expenditures related to chartering activities each year.

What Can I Do?
Stay tuned as we continue to analyze provisions of the 2009 E-12 Omnibus bill over the summer months!

Check out all the News and Hot Topics at our website!

“Childhood has no rewind: Our children cannot go back to grade school and get another education when times are better and we all have more to give. When the playground is empty and the children are gone, either we will have sacrificed for them, or we won’t.”
                                                                            —from a Parents United poster

Questions? Email Mary Cecconi
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108

</span> </td> </tr> </table> </div> </td> </tr> </table>