Committed to making sure all voices are clearly heard
Charter Schools Facilities Funding
Access to Facilities
Role of the Public Charter School Commission
In order to ensure the growth of high-quality charter schools, the Public Charter School Commission should be leveraged in the following ways:
- Limited Statewide Authorizer. Local districts remain an authorizer, however, districts that have their denial decisions overturned by the charter commission for a set number of times then charter schools seeking approval in the district may apply directly to the charter school commission or to the local district. This maintains local input and could help incentivize districts to make more sound decisions on charter school applications.
- Permit districts to voluntarily give their authorizing authority to commission. This might be a preferred option for districts with a small number of charter schools. Knox County has expressed interest in such an arrangement as they feel it is a lot of time, energy, and resources for the one charter school they have in the district.
- Allow CMOs with multiple authorizers but located in the same geographic area to apply to have all schools moved under the jurisdiction of one authorizer. Several CMOs have expressed frustration with reporting to two authorizers for schools in the same district. For example, a CMO that has two schools located in Nashville, one authorized by MNPS and one authorized by the State Board/ Charter Commission. There are different student management systems, different funding formulas, and different compliance requirements, just to name a few.
- Allow schools that have at least 1 school approved by the charter commission school to seek replication directly from the commission without having to go through the LEA first. This will help keep authorizers consolidated and will eliminate a long bureaucratic process to replicate a school that has already shown success.
- Allow institutions of higher education to apply directly to the charter school commission to operate a charter school. Through TCAT/ charter school partnerships students may be provided hands-on learning, field-based experiences, internships, college credits, and test to earn industry standard certifications. Partnerships with TCATs could serve as an entry point for charter schools in rural areas. HEIs as an authorizer for charter schools to serve as “teacher training schools.” Tennessee state statue currently allows HEIs to open and operate teacher training schools, however, they do not have a specific school status and operate through a contract with the district. Additionally, only two HEIs in the state operate teacher training schools. Allowing HEIs to authorize these schools as charter schools could provide additional charter school seats and encourage more HEIs to take advantage of this option.
Basic Education Program (BEP) Funding
Special Education Funding
Equitable operational funding and equal access to all applicable federal
and state funding is imperative for charter schools. A key component of ensuring and monitoring equitable funding is through greater transparency. Tennessee should produce an annual report offering district and charter school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements. Additionally, all funding passthrough amounts of state and federal funding from the state and district should be made publicly available.