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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Updates for Charter Schools from ESE

To:Massachusetts Charter School Leaders and Board Chairs
From:Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner
Date:February 7, 2014

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This memo provides you with important information about:

  1. Educator evaluation requirements for charter schools
  2. FY15 Commonwealth Charter School Early Rate Projections
  3. Commonwealth charter schools monthly tuition payments starting in FY15
  4. Revisions of the audit guide and fiscal policies and procedures guide
  5. Designer Selection Law (for construction projects)
  6. Financial Dashboard now posted
  7. Additional feedback requested for CHART (formerly known as Charter DART)
  8. Charter school renewal cycle for 2014-2015
  9. New discipline statute and a related grant opportunity
  10. Brown University SEI Endorsement Courses

Please review it carefully and pass on the information to others as appropriate.

  1. Educator Evaluation Requirements for Charter Schools
  2. On June 28, 2011, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) adopted new regulations on educator evaluation. Please see Educator Evaluation Requirements for Charter Schools, which clarifies the impact of the new educator evaluation regulations on charter schools and addresses frequently asked questions.

  3. FY15 Commonwealth Charter School Early Rate Projections
  4. In an effort to assist Commonwealth charter schools in their budget preparations for fiscal year 2015, we are providing early rate projections. Questions regarding this publication should be addressed to Hadley Cabral in the School Finance unit at (781) 338-6586 or hcabral@doe.mass.edu. If you accessed the Tuition Rate Summary prior to this memo, please be sure you downloaded the "Early Charter Tuition Rate Projections for Fiscal Year 2015 " and not 2014.

  5. Commonwealth Charter School Monthly Tuition Payments Begin in FY15
  6. Assuming this provision of the proposed amendments to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.00, goes through unchanged, the state will begin the monthly tuition payment process for Commonwealth charter schools in FY15, with the first payment going out at the end of July 2014. Please note that the provision for an early first quarter August 15 payment for new charter schools will also be eliminated, since it becomes moot, so everyone will be on the same payment schedule. (See http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr1.html).

    Please also note, the proposed amendments to the regulations also impose a new affirmative obligation that a charter school must immediately notify the Department if its enrollment drops more than 10% from any previous report, in order to allow payments to be adjusted accordingly. Please note that schools that experience significant drops in enrollment will need to prepare for the possibility of not receiving a monthly payment due to prior overpayment.

  7. Audit Guide and Fiscal Policy and Procedures Guide Revisions
  8. Please note that the Audit and Fiscal Policies and Procedures (FPP) Guides are both being updated this year to reflect changes in GASB guidance and updates policies for schools operating as networks. The audit guide is currently in revisions and should be complete by mid-April, and the FPP guide will be complete by June 30, 2014. Business managers and CFOs will be invited to give feedback on both updates this spring, with a feedback session being planned in conjunction with the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association Chief Financial Officers Community of Practice Meeting on March 20. Details about feedback opportunities will follow. Please contact Sara Schnitzer at sschnitzer@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3210 with questions.

  9. Design Selection Law
  10. We wanted to make sure you had the most up-to-date information about procurement of designers for charter school facilities. Commonwealth Charter Schools are deemed to be subject to the designer selection law like state agencies. Please see sections 44 to 58 in M.G.L. c. 7C, ยงยง44 et seq. (the "Designer Selection Law"), and the Office of the Inspector General's Guide to Designing and Constructing Public Facilities (the "OIG's Guide") at http://www.mass.gov/ig/publications/manuals/dcmanual.pdf, beginning at the bottom of page 12 through page 16, where the Designer Selection Board (DSB) process and jurisdiction is explained. You will also note that Commonwealth Charter Schools must go through the DSB to select a designer, while Horace Mann Charter Schools must go through a local designer selection process modeled after the DSB process (see "OIG's Guide" referenced above).

    The Designer Selection Law contains procedures for selecting designers for building projects through an advertised, competitive, qualifications-based selection (QBS) process. Awarding authorities may contract with the same designer for both a feasibility study and a final design service contract; provided that the original solicitation for feasibility study services indicates that the contract scope may include final design services. Commonwealth Charter Schools should work within the DSB process set forth in the Designer Selection Law to procure the services of a feasibility study designer, and in the course of the process, the final designer too. The key to the process is that it is a competitive, QBS process. For more information pertaining to the designer selection process in public building construction, including the DSB listings, forms, evaluations and guidance please visit their website at: http://www.mass.gov/anf/property-mgmt-and-construction/design-and-construction-of-public-bldgs/designer-selection-process/.

  11. Financial Dashboard Now Posted
  12. We are pleased to present the final version of the Charter School Financial Dashboard (Dashboard), containing financial data from 2009-2013. The Dashboard is a data tool that will provide an easy-to-understand visual snapshot of a school's financial health over a 5-year period using standard financial indicators. The Dashboard has been created to align with the financial criteria to be included as part of the updated Charter School Performance Criteria (Version 3.0). The data in the Dashboard is derived from the Charter School End of Year Financial Reports and independent financial audits submitted annually by each charter school. Information for prior year audits are still in the process of being populated, and the Dashboard will be updated periodically. Thank you for your helpful feedback on its contents as well as the comments that have been incorporated into each individual school's Dashboard. If you have any questions, note corrections that need to be made, or wish to provide additional feedback, please contact either Joanna Laghetto at jlaghetto@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3221 or James DiMaio at jdimaio@doe.masss.edu or 781-338-3228.

  13. Additional Feedback Requested for CHART (formerly known as Charter DART)
  14. Formerly known as "Charter DART" (Charter Demographic Analysis and Review Tool) is now being launched as the CHART (CHarter Analysis and Review Tool). Currently, CHART provides multi-year and multi-school comparison data in a visual format in three categories: 1) enrollment percentages by subgroup; 2) attrition percentages by grade level and subgroup; and 3) student indicator statistics, including suspensions. We appreciate the feedback received on the preliminary working prototype. We are in the process of populating CHART with additional data, and will be providing instructions for how to access the next iteration of the tool for review and provide feedback under separate cover. We anticipate posting a finalized version on our website (including updated data from Oct. 1, 2013 SIMS) in March 2014.

  15. Charter School Renewals for 2014-2015
  16. The 2014-2015 renewal cohort contains 19 charter schools. Applications for Renewal are due August 1, 2014. Last year, after we revised our Charter School Performance Criteria, we also revised the Application for Renewal of a Public School Charter (Application) and the Renewal Inspection Protocol, both found here. In the first week of February, we will post the updated Application. Please wait to begin this important work until we have posted the new Application. If you have questions regarding the renewal process, please contact Alison Bagg at abagg@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3218.

  17. New Discipline Law Update and Safe and Supportive School Action Plans Grant
  18. At its January 2014 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to solicit public comment on proposed student discipline regulations, 603 CMR 53, related to the Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Relative to Student Access to Educational Services and Exclusion from School. Public comment is being accepted through March 7, 2014. The Act requires school districts and charter schools to ensure that students who are suspended or expelled from school continue to have an opportunity to make academic progress through educational services provided by their district or charter school. The Act also adds procedural and reporting requirements for student suspensions and expulsions, and requires schools to have a pupil absence notification program and a process for outreach to students before they withdraw from school. All these provisions take effect on July 1, 2014.

    The deadline for a grant opportunity that may support your school's efforts to proactively address school discipline, the Safe and Supportive School Action Plans Grant, Fund Code 335: http://www.doe.mass.edu/grants/grants14/rfp/335.html, has been extended to Friday, February 14, 2014. The purpose of this grant program is to pilot and share an effective process for school teams to develop and implement safe and supportive school action plans. If you have questions regarding this grant opportunity, please contact the Department's Safe and Healthy Schools Specialist, Anne Gilligan, via agilligan@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-6309.

  19. Brown University SEI Endorsement Courses
  20. The Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA) is in the process of setting up registration for the 2014-2015 Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) teacher endorsement courses. As many of you know, we have a partnership with The Equity Alliance from Brown University for charter schools. The partnership's goal is to develop the capacity of content area teachers in Massachusetts charter schools to provide meaningful, rigorous, data driven instruction to English language learners. Over the past three years, the Equity Alliance has worked with a number of charter schools to provide SEI teacher endorsement courses at no cost to the school. Please note the following:

    • It does not matter if your school has been assigned a particular cohort for training
    • Your school must have English language learner (ELL) students enrolled (at least one ELL student should be enrolled in each teacher's class who is taking the course).
    • Only core academic teachers may enroll in the course

    If you are interested in working with Brown University during the upcoming school year to host an SEI teacher endorsement course at your school, please contact Sara Smith at sara_smith@brown.edu or Ellie Rounds at erounds@doe.mass.edu.

Ongoing Communication

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: February 7, 2014
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