About forty people attended a Monday night meeting on starting a Charter School in Manhattan. Here is the Mission Statement: "The mission of Little Apple Charter School is to provide students ages 5-12 the opportunity to achieve academic and personal excellence when offered an intellectually challenging curriculum and supportive environment. Diverse teaching methods and individualized approaches to instruction, characterized by high standards for all students, will ensure all children the ability to engage in critical thinking and will develop a love for learning. The Little Apple Charter School is founded on the belief that the education of children is the shared responsibility of families, schools, and communities, where everyone has something to learn and something to teach."
What is a Charter School? This is what the Kansas State Department of Education says:
This Memorandum is an "Overview of the State’s Charter School Law, K.S.A. 72-1903 to 72-1910" by Rodney J. Bieker, KSDE General Counsel:
This Memorandum provides an overview of the state’s charter school law. The law is set forth in statute numbers 72-1903 to 72-1910, which are attached to this memorandum. Hopefully the following question and answer analysis will assist in providing an understanding of this law. Each answer is followed by a citation to the applicable statute or statutes.
1. What is a Charter School?
A Charter School is "a nonsectarian, outcomes-oriented educational program" operated within a school district structure, but independently from other school programs of the district. 72-1904, 72-1903.
2. Who can request the establishment of a Charter School?
School building or school district employees groups, educational services contractors, and other persons or entities may request permission to establish and maintain a charter school program. 72-1903.
3. Who has the authority to grant permission to establish a Charter School?
The board of education of any school district may authorize the establishment of a Charter School. 72-1904.
4. What items must be included in a petition to establish a Charter School?
The law specifies 15 key elements which must be addressed in each petition to establish a Charter School. Those 15 items are listed in K.S.A. 72-1906(c). Also, in K.S.A. 72-1906(d), four assurances are listed and must be made in connection with any petition to establish a Charter School.
5. What are the procedures and timelines for establishment of a Charter School?
Any person or group requesting the establishment of a Charter School must submit a petition to establish the Charter School to the local board of education. The petition must be submitted by no later than December 1 of the school year preceding the school year in which the Charter School is proposed to be established. 72-1906(b).
If the local board of education finds the petition to be incomplete, the board may request additional information from the petitioner. If, however, the board finds the petition to be satisfactory, the local board must give notice of the time, date and place for holding a public hearing on the petition. The local board must either grant or deny the petition within 30 days after the public hearing is held.
If the local board approves the petition, the local board must notify the petitioner and the State Board of Education of such approval within 30 days after the approval or by February 1, whichever is earlier.
When notified by a local board of the approval of a Charter School petition, the State Board must determine whether the Charter School is in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and rules and regulations. If the Charter School is found to be in compliance with such laws and rules and regulations, the State Board is required to approve the establishment of the Charter School. If it is not in compliance, the Charter School cannot be established until it is brought into compliance.
Finally, the State Board must notify the local board of education and the petitioner of its approval or disapproval of the petition by not later than April 1. 72-1906(e).
6. Does the State Board, in reviewing a petition to establish a Charter School, have the authority or responsibility to review the proposed program?
No. The State Board’s only authority and responsibility in regard to the petition for the establishment of a Charter School is to determine whether that petition is in compliance with the state and federal laws and rules and regulations. (72-1906(e).
7. Does the State Board have any other responsibilities under the Charter School law?
Yes. The petitioner and the local board of education may request that the State Board waive State Board requirements. Thus, if a waiver is requested, the State Board must grant or deny the requested waiver. 72-1906(f).
Since the total number of Charter Schools operating in the state in any school year cannot exceed 15, the State Board is required to provide school districts with information concerning the number of Charter Schools currently being operated, the availability of an opportunity for establishment of a Charter School due to discontinuance of a previously established Charter School, and the criteria for determining the order in which additional Charter Schools may be established. 72-1905.
In addition, the State Board, upon request, is to provide any individual or group technical advice and assistance regarding the establishment and operation of a Charter School or the preparation of a petition requesting authority for the establishment and operation of such a school. 72-1910(a).
Finally, as school districts submit their annual evaluations of Charter
Schools operated within their local school systems, the State Board must
review, assess, and compile the evaluations and submit the compilation
and other relevant material to the Governor and the Legislature. 72-1910(b).