Wednesday, December 8, 2010

State Advisory Committee Considers LEA Status for CSI Charter Schools

The SB 111 advisory committee met for the last time today before providing the General Assembly with a report next month containing recommendations related to Charter School Institute (CSI) schools becoming their own Local Education Agency (LEA) for purposes of either Special Education funding (IDEA, Part B) or entitlement programs (No Child Left Behind).

The committee decided to recommend that CSI schools at least be given the opportunity to ask the CSI board to do their own Special Education services, but only after demonstrating they have the capacity to do it. This will probably be via contracting with a Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) in a manner comparable to small school districts in the state. The agreement with a BOCES would need to transfer liability from CSI to the individual charter school in order for it to be approved.

In regard to entitlement programs, the committee agreed that managing the federal programs would probably be a greater burden than it would be worth. Individual charter schools would need to be substantially familiar with numerous federal requirements and the amount of money received from most of the programs would be a marginal amount. The additional burden on CSI charter schools would be prohibitive in comparison to the benefits.

Patricia Hayes, chair of the SB 111 committee, distributed an initial draft of the committee report and the recommendations were each discussed. The committee did a great deal of research and had lots of discussion on the specific issues. Two of the largest CSI schools were a part of the discussion and expressed concern about the burden associated with the federal programs.

Statute requires the report to be delivered to the House and Senate Education Committees by January 15th.

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