Feb 08, 2013

Partnership between the state and districts will create a streamlined, rigorous charter authorization process

BATON ROUGE, La. – Three school districts – East Baton Rouge Parish, Jefferson Parish, and Lafayette Parish – have agreed to partner with the state in the process of charter school authorization to ensure a simplified, customized process for applicants in those districts. Through this district/state partnership, participating districts utilize the Department’s charter application review procedure while still retaining the right to grant final approval of applicants. Additionally, this process allows charter applicants to apply to multiple districts participating in the partnership at once. This simultaneously leads to reduced costs for districts while ensuring a common, rigorous review process.

“The partnership between these districts and the Department will create a more efficient process and reduce the burden on districts,” said Superintendent John White. “Ultimately, this collaboration ensures a common, rigorous review in order to identify quality schools for Louisiana’s students.”

Charter schools are publicly-funded schools that are authorized by a local school district or the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and enter a five-year contract with the authorizing body. They must meet the terms of the contract, including financial sustainability and student achievement goals, to continue to operate. While they operate with more autonomy than district-run schools, this is allowed in exchange for greater accountability. Students in charter schools must take the same assessments as students in district-run public schools and similarly, are graded on an A-F scale.

Each year, BESE, through the Department, accepts applications from nonprofit groups to operate Type 2, Type 4 and Type 5 charter schools in high-need, high-priority areas throughout the state. Local districts accept applications for Type 1 and Type 3 charter schools. In Louisiana, 104 charter schools are educating nearly 58,000 students, and many of these schools have made impressive educational gains. For example, from 2011 to 2012, charter schools outpaced district schools in raising student achievement, gaining an average of 6.14 points compared to 4.7 points for district-run schools.

Last week, the Department released the 2013 Call for Quality Options, an initiative which focuses on providing high-quality educational options for all students that are currently enrolled in D and F schools across the state. One part of the Call for Quality Options is this annual request for charter applications. Additionally, the Call for Quality Options introduced an information center, located online and updated annually, that displays the perceived need for high-quality educational options through both a data dashboard and detailed narratives for each choice option.

Starting with the release of the 2013 Call for Quality Options, the timeline for applications for Type, 2, 4 and 5 charter schools has been revised to accept applications beginning in February with decisions on approvals happening in August.  This will help ensure that approved charter operators have a full year of planning prior to a charter school’s opening the following August.   

The deadline to submit applications for the 2013 Charter Request for Applications (RFA) for operators who have run at least one school for at least one year is March 15. New operators should apply by March 22.

For more information on the 2013 Call for Quality Options, please click here.  Applicants may submit questions about the charter application process tor rfa@la.gov.  

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