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Massachusetts Charter Schools

End-of-Year Updates for Charter Schools from ESE

To:Massachusetts Charter School Leaders and Board Chairs
From:Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner
Date:June 27, 2014

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At the end of another school year, we wanted to take the opportunity thank all of you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to improving public education for all children throughout the Commonwealth. This memo provides you with important information about recent news and activities that may need to be completed over the summer. Please review it carefully and pass on the information to others as appropriate.

  1. Updates Related to Amended Charter School Regulations
  2. FY15 Monthly Tuition Payments for Commonwealth Charter Schools
  3. Updates to the Charter School Performance Criteria (Criteria)
  4. Annual Report for 2013-2014
  5. Recruitment and Retention Plan Webinars
  6. Updated Accountability Plan Guidelines and Webinars
  7. Renewal Inspections for 2014-2015
  8. Site Visitor Interest Survey for 2014-2015 Visits
  9. New Schools Application Process
  10. Amendment Guidelines and Deadlines
  11. Early Childhood Special Education Program Improvement Grant Opportunity
  12. Audit Guide and Fiscal Policy and Procedures Guide Revisions
  13. Charter Trustee Disclosure of Financial Interest Form for Calendar Year 2013
  14. Charter School Waitlist Reports – FY14 and FY15

  1. Updates Related to Amended Charter School Regulations
  2. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) at its March 25th meeting, voted to adopt amendments to 603 CMR 1.00, the regulations for charter schools. The amendments are comprehensive and reflect the experience of the field and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) since last time it was changed in 2010. A few items to be looking out for over the summer and fall:

    • The Department is in the process of finalizing a new Notice of Right to Access and Equity in Public Charter Schools for English language learners and has revised the Notice of Right to Access and Equity in Public Charter Schools for Students with Disabilities that schools may use to comply with new regulations requiring such notice. These notices will be sent out this summer when completed.
    • The Department is still in the process of updating other guidance documents, including Enrollment Policy Guidance, the Administrative and Governance Guide, and the Horace Mann Technical Advisory. If you have questions about the amended regulations, please contact Ruth Hersh at 781-338-3211 or rhersh@doe.mass.edu.

  3. FY15 Monthly Tuition Payments for Commonwealth Charter Schools
  4. Commonwealth charter schools, please be reminded that the state has changed from quarterly to monthly tuition payments with the first payment going out at the end of July 2014. Also, the FY15 preliminary tuition rates for Commonwealth charter schools are now posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/finance/tuition/fy15/projection.html. Final charter tuition data for FY14 will be posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/finance/tuition/ shortly. Please contact Hadley Cabral at hcabral@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-6586 with any questions.

  5. Updates to the Charter School Performance Criteria (Criteria)
  6. The Department made minor changes to the Charter School Performance Criteria (Criteria). Changes include clarifications in language and sub-ratings for a few additional criterion. The Criteria, Version 3.1, can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=criteria. If you have questions regarding revisions to the Criteria, please contact Alison Bagg at abagg@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3218.

  7. Annual Report for 2013-2014
  8. Charter school 2013-2014 Annual Reports must be submitted to the Department on or before August 1, 2014 as set forth in the charter school statute. The Annual Report will be used by the Department to review the school's performance and progress for the past school year, be corroborated and augmented by site visits, and will serve as one of the primary pieces of evidence that the Board will review when it considers a school's application for charter renewal. The 2013-14 Annual Report Guidelines have been posted: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=annual. Please consult them when writing your school's Annual Report. Please contact Alison Bagg at 781-338-3218 or abagg@doe.mass.edu.

  9. Recruitment and Retention Plan Webinars
  10. There are several webinars scheduled (June 30 and July 10) to support schools in completing the Recruitment and Retention Plan as part of the charter school's annual report submission by August 1, 2014. Please see http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=3877 and http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=10314 for more information about the review process.

  11. Updated Accountability Plan Guidelines and Webinars
  12. The Accountability Plan Guidelines have been revised and updated and are now posted at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=guidelines. The format and substance of the plan remains similar to last year's guidance (objectives and measures related to Faithfulness to Charter), with a few key changes designed to improve this tool. They are:

    • The addition of key design elements
    • The option to create reach objectives and measures
    • Dissemination objectives and measures

    Three groups of schools will be working with these new guidelines this summer: schools who have been through renewal in the 2013-2014 school year, new schools beginning their second year of operation; and schools whose plans are in draft form and remain unfinalized. Other charter schools may voluntarily choose to update their Accountability Plans. The Department has scheduled training webinars on the updated accountability plan guidelines for charter school leaders and other appropriate staff members. Please register at http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=3893. We will send out a notice once the updated guidelines are posted and will contact affected schools directly.

  13. Renewal Inspections for 2014-2015
  14. The 2014-2015 renewal cohort contains 19 charter schools. Applications for Renewal are due August 1, 2014. The Application for Renewal of a Public School Charter is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=renew. The Renewal Inspection Protocol is in the final stages of revision and will be posted in July. After August 1st, the Department will contact all schools in the renewal cohort to establish the dates for the renewal inspection. Inspections will occur anytime between the end of September and the beginning of November. The Department will work with each school to find the best time for the visit. If you have questions regarding the renewal process, please contact Alison Bagg at abagg@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3218.

  15. Site Visitor Interest Survey for 2014-2015 Visits
  16. Thank you to everyone who participated as an external volunteer on a site visit this past academic year. Our external visitors are invaluable to the process and we are already beginning recruitment for the 2014-2015 visit schedule. The interest survey is now located online at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1694009/Site-Visit-Volunteer-Interest-Form and takes less than 5 minutes to fill out! Please take the survey if you are interested, and also please forward the survey link to staff at your school(s) who might be interested in participating on a visit. We are particularly seeking experienced teachers and special education administrators. If you have any questions about this process, please contact Sara Schnitzer atsschnitzer@doe.mass.edu.

  17. New Schools Application Process
  18. The Department has completed and posted the revised Application for a Commonwealth or Horace Mann Public Charter School. We strongly encourage members of your leadership team, faculty, or board of trustees to consider the rewarding experience of becoming a charter application reviewer during the upcoming cycle. Please contact Alyssa Hopkins at ahopkins@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3219 if interested. The Commissioner has implemented a single stage application process for current eligible boards of trustees applying for a new charter. While this single stage process eliminates the prospectus submission in July, current eligible boards of trustees will still be required to be granted proven provider status by the Commissioner, if applicable, in order to submit a final application. If a current board of trustees is interested in expansion, either through a new charter or expansion of a current charter, please contact Alyssa Hopkins at ahopkins@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3219 to discuss the two different approaches to charter school growth.

  19. Amendment Guidelines and Deadlines
  20. The Department has updated and posted the Amendment Guidelines. The Amendment Guidelines highlight the requirements for amending the material terms of a school's charter as well as the required criteria for the submission of major expansion requests. Please review the Amendment Guidelines to identify the types of changes that require Commissioner or Board approval, and those changes that simply require notification to the Department. All major expansion requests, specifically changes to maximum enrollment, grades served, and districts served, must be received by the Department on or before August 1, 2014. If your expansion request requires a determination of proven provider status by the Commissioner pursuant to MGL c.71 § 89 and 603 CMR 1.00, current boards of trustees will be required to provide additional evidence to support the determination of proven provider status in addition to their request. If you have any questions regarding the major expansion request process or the proven provider requirements, please contact Alyssa Hopkins at ahopkins@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3219.

  21. Early Childhood Special Education Program Improvement Grant Opportunity
  22. The Special Education Planning and Policy Office is offering Fund Code 298: The Early Childhood Special Education Program Improvement Grant. This allocation grant is open to any LEA serving students ages 3-5 with disabilities and the allocation is based on their enrolment of students with disabilities ages 3-5. This year, there are 13 charter schools eligible to apply for $4,800 each. The RFP can be found here: http://www.doe.mass.edu/grants/2015/298/.

  23. Audit Guide and Fiscal Policy and Procedures Guide Revisions
  24. Please note that the Audit and Fiscal Policies and Procedures (FPP) Guides are both being updated this year to reflect changes in Governmental Accounting Standards Board guidance and updates policies for schools operating as networks. The audit guide is currently being finalized and will be released in July at with links to online financial statements. Please note that the audit guide will not take effect until FY15, with the exception of the updates required for schools receiving Charter School Program (CSP) grant funds, which take effect in FY14. Affected school will be notified directly. A draft of the updated FPP guide should be available for review this summer. The Department is planning training opportunities for late fall/early summer to train auditors, business managers, and treasurers on the updated documents. Details will be sent out under separate cover. Please contact Sara Schnitzer at sschnitzer@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3210 with questions.

  25. Charter Trustee Disclosure of Financial Interest Form for Calendar Year 2013
  26. Board of trustees members must submit their Disclosure of Financial Interest Form for Calendar Year 2013 by September 1, 2014. Please see http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/governance/?section=trustees for more information.

  27. Charter School Waitlist Reports – FY14 and FY15
  28. Updated data for charter school waitlists can now be found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=10309.

Ongoing Communication

As you are aware, we are committed to ensuring open lines of communication with charter school operators. Please feel free to contact us (http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/contact.html) with your questions or concerns. If you are unsure whom to contact, you can email charterschools@doe.mass.edu and your inquiry will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member. The person listed as "charter school leader" and "charter school board chair" in the Directory Administration should have received this message. If for some reason they did not, please ask your school's directory administrator (see http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/diradmin/list.aspx) to update this contact information within Directory Administration. Your directory administrator can contact Lee DeLorenzo at ldelorenzo@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3227 for assistance. Others can also subscribe to receiving this information by contacting Lee.



Last Updated: June 27, 2014
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