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Senate Bill 2150

Senate Bill sb2150

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150

    By Senator Baker





    20-1084-05

  1                      A bill to be entitled

  2         An act relating to charter schools; amending s.

  3         1002.33, F.S.; providing that a charter school

  4         may be formed by reconstituting an existing

  5         charter school; specifying purposes;

  6         authorizing the Florida Charter School

  7         Accountability Authority (FCSAA) to be a

  8         sponsor; providing for the sponsor's policies

  9         to apply to the charter school by mutual

10         agreement; amending provisions relating to the

11         deadline for the school board's vote on

12         approving an applicant for a charter; providing

13         for the appeal of an FCSAA decision; revising

14         application deadlines and procedures; providing

15         limitations on matters subject to the ruling of

16         an administrative law judge; stipulating the

17         permissible initial term of a charter;

18         requiring that a charter renewal be granted to

19         a charter school that meets specified

20         conditions; revising the list of causes for

21         nonrenewal or termination of a charter;

22         increasing the number of charters that an

23         organization may hold statewide; requiring

24         district school boards to make timely and

25         efficient payment and reimbursement to charter

26         schools; tightening deadlines and increasing

27         administrative penalties for the failure to

28         make such reimbursements; exempting charter

29         school facilities from certain fees; revising

30         the list of services that a sponsor must

31         provide; requiring the Department of Education

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1         to conduct a study of the administrative fee

 2         withheld by the sponsors and to submit a report

 3         to specified officials; requiring the

 4         department to provide to the public information

 5         on a charter format and a charter renewal

 6         format, as well as an application format, to be

 7         used by sponsors as guidelines; creating the

 8         Florida Charter School Accountability

 9         Authority; providing for its funding,

10         administration, mission, and duties; creating

11         the Board of Trustees of the Florida Charter

12         School Accountability Authority; providing for

13         membership, qualifications, and meetings of the

14         board and for regional offices to assist the

15         board; providing for the FCSAA to accept

16         funding from various sources; delaying FCSAA

17         activation until funding reaches a specified

18         level; authorizing the FCSAA to retain an

19         administrative fee; amending s. 1012.74, F.S.;

20         granting instructional and administrative

21         personnel in charter schools the option of

22         obtaining educator professional liability

23         coverage at cost; providing an effective date.

24  

25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

26  

27         Section 1.  Subsections (1), (4), (5), (6), (21), and

28  (22), paragraph (b) of subsection (2), paragraph (b) of

29  subsection (3), paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (7),

30  paragraphs (a), (c), (d), and (e) of subsection (8),

31  paragraphs (h) and (i) of subsection (9), paragraph (d) of

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  subsection (17), paragraphs (a), (d), and (e) of subsection

 2  (18), and paragraph (a) of subsection (20) of section 1002.33,

 3  Florida Statutes, are amended, present subsection (24) of that

 4  section is redesignated as subsection (25), and a new

 5  subsection (24) is added to that section, to read:

 6         1002.33  Charter schools.--

 7         (1)  AUTHORIZATION.--Charter schools shall be part of

 8  the state's program of public education. All charter schools

 9  in Florida are public schools. A charter school may be formed

10  by creating a new school, or converting an existing public

11  school to charter status, or reconstituting an existing

12  charter school. A public school may not use the term charter

13  in its name unless it has been approved under this section.

14         (2)  GUIDING PRINCIPLES; PURPOSE.--

15         (b)  Charter schools shall fulfill one or more of the

16  following purposes:

17         1.  Improve student learning and academic achievement.

18         2.  Increase learning opportunities for all students,

19  with special emphasis on low-performing students and reading.

20         3.  Create new professional opportunities for teachers,

21  including ownership of the learning program at the school

22  site.

23         4.  Encourage the use of innovative learning methods.

24         5.  Require the measurement of learning outcomes.

25         (3)  APPLICATION FOR CHARTER STATUS.--

26         (b)  An application for a conversion charter school

27  shall be made by the district school board, the principal,

28  teachers, parents, and/or the school advisory council at an

29  existing public school that has been in operation for at least

30  2 years prior to the application to convert., including A

31  public school-within-a-school that is designated as a school

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  by the district school board may also submit an application to

 2  convert to charter status. An application submitted proposing

 3  to convert an existing public school to a charter school shall

 4  demonstrate the support of at least 50 percent of the teachers

 5  employed at the school and 50 percent of the parents voting

 6  whose children are enrolled at the school, provided that a

 7  majority of the parents eligible to vote participate in the

 8  ballot process, according to rules adopted by the State Board

 9  of Education. A district school board denying an application

10  for a conversion charter school shall provide notice of denial

11  to the applicants in writing within 10 30 days after the

12  meeting at which the district school board denied the

13  application. The notice must state the specific specify the

14  exact reasons for denial and must provide documentation

15  supporting those reasons. A private school, parochial school,

16  or home education program shall not be eligible for charter

17  school status.

18         (4)  UNLAWFUL REPRISAL.--

19         (a)  A No district school board, or district school

20  board employee who has control over personnel actions, may not

21  shall take unlawful reprisal against another district school

22  board employee because that employee is either directly or

23  indirectly involved with an application to establish a charter

24  school. As used in this subsection, the term "unlawful

25  reprisal" means an action that is taken by a district school

26  board or a school system employee against an employee who is

27  directly or indirectly involved in a lawful application to

28  establish a charter school, that which occurs as a direct

29  result of that involvement, and that which results in one or

30  more of the following: disciplinary or corrective action;

31  adverse transfer or reassignment, whether temporary or

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  permanent; suspension, demotion, or dismissal; an unfavorable

 2  performance evaluation; a reduction in pay, benefits, or

 3  rewards; elimination of the employee's position absent of a

 4  reduction in workforce as a result of lack of moneys or work;

 5  or other adverse significant changes in duties or

 6  responsibilities that are inconsistent with the employee's

 7  salary or employment classification. The following procedures

 8  shall apply to an alleged unlawful reprisal that occurs as a

 9  consequence of an employee's direct or indirect involvement

10  with an application to establish a charter school:

11         1.  Within 60 days after the date upon which a reprisal

12  prohibited by this subsection is alleged to have occurred, an

13  employee may file a complaint with the Department of

14  Education.

15         2.  Within 3 working days after receiving a complaint

16  under this section, the Department of Education shall

17  acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide copies of the

18  complaint and any other relevant preliminary information

19  available to each of the other parties named in the complaint,

20  which parties shall each acknowledge receipt of such copies to

21  the complainant.

22         3.  If the Department of Education determines that the

23  complaint demonstrates reasonable cause to suspect that an

24  unlawful reprisal has occurred, the Department of Education

25  shall conduct an investigation to produce a fact-finding

26  report.

27         4.  Within 90 days after receiving the complaint, the

28  Department of Education shall provide the district school

29  superintendent of the complainant's district and the

30  complainant with a fact-finding report that may include

31  recommendations to the parties or a proposed resolution of the

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  complaint. The fact-finding report shall be presumed

 2  admissible in any subsequent or related administrative or

 3  judicial review.

 4         5.  If the Department of Education determines that

 5  reasonable grounds exist to believe that an unlawful reprisal

 6  has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken, and is unable

 7  to conciliate a complaint within 60 days after receipt of the

 8  fact-finding report, the Department of Education shall

 9  terminate the investigation. Upon termination of any

10  investigation, the Department of Education shall notify the

11  complainant and the district school superintendent of the

12  termination of the investigation, providing a summary of

13  relevant facts found during the investigation and the reasons

14  for terminating the investigation. A written statement under

15  this paragraph is presumed admissible as evidence in any

16  judicial or administrative proceeding.

17         6.  The Department of Education shall either contract

18  with the Division of Administrative Hearings under s. 120.65,

19  or otherwise provide for a complaint for which the Department

20  of Education determines reasonable grounds exist to believe

21  that an unlawful reprisal has occurred, is occurring, or is to

22  be taken, and is unable to conciliate, to be heard by a panel

23  of impartial persons. Upon hearing the complaint, the panel

24  shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law for a final

25  decision by the Department of Education.

26  

27  It shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought

28  pursuant to this section that the adverse action was

29  predicated upon grounds other than, and would have been taken

30  absent, the employee's exercise of rights protected by this

31  section.

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1         (b)  In any action brought under this section for which

 2  it is determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that

 3  an unlawful reprisal has occurred, is occurring, or is to be

 4  taken, the relief shall include the following:

 5         1.  Reinstatement of the employee to the same position

 6  held before the unlawful reprisal was commenced, or to an

 7  equivalent position, or payment of reasonable front pay as

 8  alternative relief.

 9         2.  Reinstatement of the employee's full fringe

10  benefits and seniority rights, as appropriate.

11         3.  Compensation, if appropriate, for lost wages,

12  benefits, or other lost remuneration caused by the unlawful

13  reprisal.

14         4.  Payment of reasonable costs, including attorney's

15  fees, to a substantially prevailing employee, or to the

16  prevailing employer if the employee filed a frivolous action

17  in bad faith.

18         5.  Issuance of an injunction, if appropriate, by a

19  court of competent jurisdiction.

20         6.  Temporary reinstatement to the employee's former

21  position or to an equivalent position, pending the final

22  outcome of the complaint, if it is determined that the action

23  was not made in bad faith or for a wrongful purpose, and did

24  not occur after a district school board's initiation of a

25  personnel action against the employee that includes

26  documentation of the employee's violation of a disciplinary

27  standard or performance deficiency.

28         (5)  SPONSOR; DUTIES.--

29         (a)  Sponsoring entities.--

30  

31  

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1         1.  A district school board may sponsor a charter

 2  school in the county over which the district school board has

 3  jurisdiction.

 4         2.  A state university may grant a charter to a lab

 5  school created under s. 1002.32 and shall be considered to be

 6  the school's sponsor. Such school shall be considered a

 7  charter lab school.

 8         3.  The Florida Charter School Accountability Authority

 9  may sponsor a charter school.

10         (b)  Sponsor duties.--

11         1.  The sponsor shall monitor and review the charter

12  school in its progress toward the goals established in the

13  charter.

14         2.  The sponsor shall monitor the revenues and

15  expenditures of the charter school.

16         3.  The sponsor may approve a charter for a charter

17  school before the applicant has secured space, equipment, or

18  personnel, if the applicant indicates approval is necessary

19  for it to raise working funds capital.

20         4.  The sponsor's policies shall not apply to a charter

21  school unless mutually agreed to by the sponsor and the

22  charter school.

23         5.  The sponsor shall ensure that the charter is

24  innovative and consistent with the state education goals

25  established by s. 1000.03(5).

26         6.  The sponsor shall ensure that the charter school

27  participates in the state's education accountability system.

28  If a charter school falls short of performance measures

29  included in the approved charter, the sponsor shall report

30  such shortcomings to the Department of Education.

31  

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  A community college may work with the school district or

 2  school districts in its designated service area to develop

 3  charter schools that offer secondary education. These charter

 4  schools must include an option for students to receive an

 5  associate degree upon high school graduation. District school

 6  boards shall cooperate with and assist the community college

 7  on the charter application. Community college applications for

 8  charter schools are not subject to the time deadlines outlined

 9  in subsection (6) and may be approved by the district school

10  board at any time during the year. Community colleges shall

11  not report FTE for any students who receive FTE funding

12  through the Florida Education Finance Program.

13         (6)  APPLICATION PROCESS AND REVIEW.--Charter school

14  Beginning September 1, 2003, applications are subject to the

15  following requirements:

16         (a)  A person or entity wishing to open a charter

17  school shall prepare an application that:

18         1.  Demonstrates how the school will use the guiding

19  principles and meet the statutorily defined purpose of a

20  charter school.

21         2.  Provides a detailed curriculum plan that

22  illustrates how students will be provided services to attain

23  the Sunshine State Standards.

24         3.  Contains goals and objectives for improving student

25  learning and measuring that improvement. These goals and

26  objectives must indicate how much academic improvement

27  students are expected to show each year, how success will be

28  evaluated, and the specific results to be attained through

29  instruction.

30         4.  Describes the reading curriculum and differentiated

31  strategies that will be used for students reading at grade

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  level or higher and a separate curriculum and strategies for

 2  students who are reading below grade level. A sponsor shall

 3  deny a charter if the school does not propose a reading

 4  curriculum that is consistent with effective teaching

 5  strategies that are grounded in scientifically based reading

 6  research.

 7         5.  Contains an annual financial plan for each year

 8  requested by the charter for operation of the school for up to

 9  5 years. This plan must contain anticipated fund balances

10  based on revenue projections, a spending plan based on

11  projected revenues and expenses, and a description of controls

12  that will safeguard finances and projected enrollment trends.

13         (b)  Beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, a

14  district school board shall receive and review all

15  applications for a charter school. A district school board

16  shall receive and consider charter school applications

17  received on or before June September 1 of each calendar year

18  for charter schools to be opened at the beginning of the

19  school district's next school year, or to be opened at a time

20  agreed to by the applicant and the district school board. A

21  district school board may receive applications later than this

22  date if it chooses. A sponsor may not charge an applicant for

23  a charter any fee for the processing or consideration of an

24  application, and a sponsor may not base its consideration or

25  approval of an application upon the promise of future payment

26  of any kind.

27         1.  In order to facilitate an accurate budget

28  projection process, a district school board shall be held

29  harmless for FTE students who are not included in the FTE

30  projection due to approval of charter school applications

31  after the FTE projection deadline. In a further effort to

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  facilitate an accurate budget projection, within 15 calendar

 2  days after receipt of a charter school application, a district

 3  school board or other sponsor shall report to the Department

 4  of Education the name of the applicant entity, the proposed

 5  charter school location, and its projected FTE.

 6         2.  In order to ensure fiscal responsibility, an

 7  application for a charter school shall include a full

 8  accounting of expected assets, a projection of expected

 9  sources and amounts of income, including income derived from

10  projected student enrollments and from community support, and

11  an expense projection that includes full accounting of the

12  costs of operation, including start-up costs.

13         3.  A district school board shall by a majority vote

14  approve or deny an application no later than 60 calendar days

15  after the application is received, unless the district school

16  board and the applicant mutually agree in writing to

17  temporarily postpone the vote for an additional 30 days to a

18  specific date, at which time the district school board shall

19  by a majority vote approve or deny the application. If the

20  district school board fails to act on the application, an

21  applicant may appeal to the State Board of Education as

22  provided in paragraph (c). If an application is denied, the

23  district school board shall, within 10 calendar days,

24  articulate in writing the specific reasons for based upon good

25  cause supporting its denial of the charter application and

26  must provide documentation supporting those reasons.

27         4.  For budget projection purposes, the district school

28  board or other sponsor shall report to the Department of

29  Education the approval or denial of a charter application

30  within 10 calendar days after such approval or denial. In the

31  event of approval, the report to the Department of Education

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  shall include the final projected FTE for the approved charter

 2  school.

 3         5.  Upon approval of a charter application, the initial

 4  school year startup shall commence with the beginning of the

 5  public school calendar for the district in which the charter

 6  is granted unless the district school board allows a waiver of

 7  this provision for good cause.

 8         (c)  An applicant may appeal any denial of that

 9  applicant's application or failure to act on an application to

10  the State Board of Education no later than 30 calendar days

11  after receipt of the district school board's decision or

12  failure to act and shall notify the district school board of

13  its appeal. Any response of the district school board shall be

14  submitted to the State Board of Education within 30 calendar

15  days after notification of the appeal. Upon receipt of

16  notification from the State Board of Education that a charter

17  school applicant is filing an appeal, the Commissioner of

18  Education shall convene a meeting of the Charter School Appeal

19  Commission to study and make recommendations to the State

20  Board of Education regarding its pending decision about the

21  appeal. The commission shall forward its recommendation to the

22  state board no later than 7 calendar days prior to the date on

23  which the appeal is to be heard. The State Board of Education

24  shall by majority vote accept or reject the decision of the

25  district school board no later than 90 calendar days after an

26  appeal is filed in accordance with State Board of Education

27  rule. The Charter School Appeal Commission may reject an

28  appeal submission for failure to comply with procedural rules

29  governing the appeals process. The rejection shall describe

30  the submission errors. The appellant may have up to 15

31  calendar days from notice of rejection to resubmit an appeal

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    Florida Senate - 2005                                  SB 2150
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 1  that meets requirements of State Board of Education rule. An

 2  application for appeal submitted subsequent to such rejection

 3  shall be considered timely if the original appeal was filed

 4  within 30 calendar days after receipt of notice of the

 5  specific reasons for the district school board's denial of the

 6  charter application. The State Board of Education shall remand

 7  the application to the district school board with its written

 8  decision that the district school board approve or deny the

 9  application. The district school board shall implement the

10  decision of the State Board of Education. The decision of the

11  State Board of Education is not subject to the provisions of

12  the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120.

13         (d)  The district school board shall act upon the

14  decision of the State Board of Education within 30 calendar

15  days after it is received. The State Board of Education's

16  decision is a final action subject to judicial review.

17         (e)1.  A Charter School Appeal Commission is

18  established to assist the commissioner and the State Board of

19  Education with a fair and impartial review of appeals by

20  applicants whose charter applications have been denied, whose

21  charter contracts have not been renewed or have been

22  terminated by their sponsors, or whose disputes over contract

23  negotiations have not been resolved through mediation.

24         2.  The Charter School Appeal Commission may receive

25  copies of the appeal documents forwarded to the State Board of

26  Education, review the documents, gather other applicable

27  information regarding the appeal, and make a written

28  recommendation to the commissioner. The recommendation must

29  state whether the appeal should be upheld or denied and

30  include the reasons for the recommendation being offered. The

31  commissioner shall forward the recommendation to the State

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 1  Board of Education no later than 7 calendar days before prior

 2  to the date on which the appeal is to be heard. The state

 3  board must consider the commission's recommendation in making

 4  its decision, but is not bound by the recommendation. The

 5  decision of the Charter School Appeal Commission is not

 6  subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act,

 7  chapter 120.

 8         3.  The commissioner shall appoint the members of the

 9  Charter School Appeal Commission. Members shall serve without

10  compensation but may be reimbursed for travel and per diem

11  expenses in conjunction with their service. One-half of the

12  members must represent currently operating charter schools,

13  and one-half of the members must represent school districts.

14  The commissioner or a named designee shall chair the Charter

15  School Appeal Commission.

16         4.  The chair shall convene meetings of the commission

17  and shall ensure that the written recommendations are

18  completed and forwarded in a timely manner. In cases where the

19  commission cannot reach a decision, the chair shall make the

20  written recommendation with justification, noting that the

21  decision was rendered by the chair.

22         5.  Commission members shall thoroughly review the

23  materials presented to them from the appellant and the

24  sponsor. The commission may request information to clarify the

25  documentation presented to it. In the course of its review,

26  the commission may facilitate the postponement of an appeal in

27  those cases where additional time and communication may negate

28  the need for a formal appeal and both parties agree, in

29  writing, to postpone the appeal to the State Board of

30  Education. A new date certain for the appeal shall then be set

31  based upon the rules and procedures of the State Board of

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 1  Education. Commission members shall provide a written

 2  recommendation to the state board as to whether the appeal

 3  should be upheld or denied. A fact-based justification for the

 4  recommendation must be included. The chair must ensure that

 5  the written recommendation is submitted to the State Board of

 6  Education members no later than 7 calendar days prior to the

 7  date on which the appeal is to be heard. Both parties in the

 8  case shall also be provided a copy of the recommendation.

 9         (f)  The Department of Education may provide technical

10  assistance to an applicant upon written request.

11         (g)  In considering charter applications for a lab

12  school, a state university shall consult with the district

13  school board of the county in which the lab school is located.

14  The decision of a state university may be appealed pursuant to

15  the procedure established in this subsection.

16         (h)  The decision of the FCSAA may be appealed pursuant

17  to the procedure established in this subsection.

18         (i)(h)  The terms and conditions for the operation of a

19  charter school shall be set forth by the sponsor and the

20  applicant in a written contractual agreement, called a

21  charter. The sponsor shall not impose unreasonable rules or

22  regulations that violate the intent of giving charter schools

23  greater flexibility to meet educational goals. The applicant

24  and sponsor shall have 3 6 months in which to mutually agree

25  to the provisions of the charter. The charter must be provided

26  to the charter school at least 7 days before the date on which

27  the charter is scheduled to be heard by the sponsor. The

28  Department of Education shall provide mediation services for

29  any dispute regarding this section subsequent to the approval

30  of a charter application and for any dispute relating to the

31  approved charter, except disputes regarding charter school

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 1  application denials. If the Commissioner of Education

 2  determines that the dispute cannot be settled through

 3  mediation, the dispute may be appealed to an administrative

 4  law judge appointed by the Division of Administrative

 5  Hearings. The administrative law judge may rule on issues of

 6  equitable treatment of the charter school as a public school,

 7  whether proposed provisions of the charter violate the

 8  intended flexibility granted charter schools by statute, or on

 9  any other matter regarding this section except a charter

10  school application denial, a charter termination, or a charter

11  nonrenewal, and shall award the prevailing party reasonable

12  attorney's fees and costs incurred to be paid by the losing

13  party. The costs of the administrative hearing shall be paid

14  by the party whom the administrative law judge rules against.

15         (7)  CHARTER.--The major issues involving the operation

16  of a charter school shall be considered in advance and written

17  into the charter. The charter shall be signed by the governing

18  body of the charter school and the sponsor, following a public

19  hearing to ensure community input.

20         (a)  The charter shall address, and criteria for

21  approval of the charter shall be based on:

22         1.  The school's mission, the students to be served,

23  and the ages and grades to be included.

24         2.  The focus of the curriculum, the instructional

25  methods to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques

26  to be employed, and identification and acquisition of

27  appropriate technologies needed to improve educational and

28  administrative performance which include a means for promoting

29  safe, ethical, and appropriate uses of technology which comply

30  with legal and professional standards. The charter shall

31  ensure that reading is a primary focus of the curriculum and

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 1  that resources are provided to identify and provide

 2  specialized instruction for students who are reading below

 3  grade level. The curriculum and instructional strategies for

 4  reading must be consistent with the Sunshine State Standards

 5  and grounded in scientifically based reading research.

 6         3.  The current incoming baseline standard of student

 7  academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the

 8  method of measurement that will be used. The criteria listed

 9  in this subparagraph shall include a detailed description for

10  each of the following:

11         a.  How the baseline student academic achievement

12  levels and prior rates of academic progress will be

13  established.

14         b.  How these baseline rates will be compared to rates

15  of academic progress achieved by these same students while

16  attending the charter school.

17         c.  To the extent possible, how these rates of progress

18  will be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other

19  closely comparable student populations.

20  

21  The district school board is required to provide academic

22  student performance data to charter schools for each of their

23  students coming from the district school system, as well as

24  rates of academic progress of comparable student populations

25  in the district school system.

26         4.  The methods used to identify the educational

27  strengths and needs of students and how well educational goals

28  and performance standards are met by students attending the

29  charter school. Included in the methods is a means for the

30  charter school to ensure accountability to its constituents by

31  analyzing student performance data and by evaluating the

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 1  effectiveness and efficiency of its major educational

 2  programs. Students in charter schools shall, at a minimum,

 3  participate in the statewide assessment program created under

 4  s. 1008.22.

 5         5.  In secondary charter schools, a method for

 6  determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for

 7  graduation in s. 1003.43.

 8         6.  A method for resolving conflicts between the

 9  governing body of the charter school and the sponsor.

10         7.  The admissions procedures and dismissal procedures,

11  including the school's code of student conduct.

12         8.  The ways by which the school will achieve a

13  racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or

14  within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the

15  same school district.

16         9.  The financial and administrative management of the

17  school, including a reasonable demonstration of the

18  professional experience or competence of those individuals or

19  organizations applying to operate the charter school or those

20  hired or retained to perform such professional services and

21  the description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the

22  policies and practices needed to effectively manage the

23  charter school. A description of internal audit procedures and

24  establishment of controls to ensure that financial resources

25  are properly managed must be included. Both public sector and

26  private sector professional experience shall be equally valid

27  in such a consideration.

28         10.  The asset and liability projections required in

29  the application which are incorporated into the charter and

30  which shall be compared with information provided in the

31  annual report of the charter school. The charter shall ensure

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 1  that, if a charter school internal audit reveals a deficit

 2  financial position, the auditors are required to notify the

 3  charter school governing board, the sponsor, and the

 4  Department of Education. The internal auditor shall report

 5  such findings in the form of an exit interview to the

 6  principal or the principal administrator of the charter school

 7  and the chair of the governing board within 7 working days

 8  after finding the deficit position. A final report shall be

 9  provided to the entire governing board, the sponsor, and the

10  Department of Education within 14 working days after the exit

11  interview.

12         11.  A description of procedures that identify various

13  risks and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the

14  impact of losses; plans to ensure the safety and security of

15  students and staff; plans to identify, minimize, and protect

16  others from violent or disruptive student behavior; and the

17  manner in which the school will be insured, including whether

18  or not the school will be required to have liability

19  insurance, and, if so, the terms and conditions thereof and

20  the amounts of coverage.

21         12.  The term of the charter which shall provide for

22  cancellation of the charter if insufficient progress has been

23  made in attaining the student achievement objectives of the

24  charter and if it is not likely that such objectives can be

25  achieved before expiration of the charter. The initial term of

26  a charter shall be for 3, 4, or 5 years. In order to

27  facilitate access to long-term financial resources for charter

28  school construction, charter schools that are operated by a

29  municipality or other public entity as provided by law are

30  eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by

31  the district school board. A charter lab school is eligible

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 1  for a charter for a term of up to 15 years. In addition, to

 2  facilitate access to long-term financial resources for charter

 3  school construction, charter schools that are operated by a

 4  private, not-for-profit, s. 501(c)(3) status corporation are

 5  eligible for up to a 10-year charter, subject to approval by

 6  the district school board. Such long-term charters remain

 7  subject to annual review and may be terminated during the term

 8  of the charter, but only in accordance with for specific good

 9  cause according to the provisions set forth in subsection (8).

10         13.  The facilities to be used and their location.

11         14.  The qualifications to be required of the teachers

12  and the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and

13  retain qualified staff to achieve best value.

14         15.  The governance structure of the school, including

15  the status of the charter school as a public or private

16  employer as required in paragraph (12)(i).

17         16.  A timetable for implementing the charter which

18  addresses the implementation of each element thereof and the

19  date by which the charter shall be awarded in order to meet

20  this timetable.

21         17.  If In the case of an existing public school is

22  being converted to charter status, alternative arrangements

23  for current students who choose not to attend the charter

24  school and for current teachers who choose not to teach in the

25  charter school after conversion in accordance with the

26  existing collective bargaining agreement or district school

27  board rule in the absence of a collective bargaining

28  agreement. However, alternative arrangements shall not be

29  required for current teachers who choose not to teach in a

30  charter lab school, except as authorized by the employment

31  

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 1  policies of the state university which grants the charter to

 2  the lab school.

 3         (b)  A charter may be renewed every 5 school years,

 4  provided that a program review demonstrates that the criteria

 5  in paragraph (a) have been successfully accomplished and that

 6  none of the grounds for nonrenewal established by paragraph

 7  (8)(a) has been documented. In order to facilitate long-term

 8  financing for charter school construction, a charter school

 9  that operates charter schools operating for a minimum of 2

10  years and demonstrates demonstrating exemplary academic

11  programming and fiscal management must be granted are eligible

12  for a 15-year charter renewal. Such a long-term charter is

13  subject to annual review and may be terminated during the term

14  of the charter.

15         (8)  CAUSES FOR NONRENEWAL OR TERMINATION OF CHARTER.--

16         (a)  At the end of the term of a charter, the sponsor

17  may choose not to renew the charter for any of the following

18  grounds:

19         1.  Failure to participate in the state's education

20  accountability system created in s. 1008.31, as required in

21  this section, or failure to meet the requirements for student

22  performance stated in the charter.

23         2.  Failure to meet generally accepted standards of

24  fiscal management.

25         3.  Violation of law.

26         4.  A threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the

27  students, as determined by the sponsor Other good cause shown.

28         (c)  At least 90 days before prior to renewing or

29  terminating a charter, the sponsor shall notify the governing

30  body of the school of the proposed action in writing. The

31  notice must shall state in reasonable detail the grounds for

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 1  the proposed action and stipulate that the school's governing

 2  body may, within 14 calendar days after receiving the notice,

 3  request an informal hearing before the sponsor. The sponsor

 4  shall conduct the informal hearing within 30 calendar days

 5  after receiving a written request. The charter school's

 6  governing body may, within 14 calendar days after receiving

 7  the sponsor's decision to terminate or refuse to renew the

 8  charter, appeal the decision pursuant to the procedure

 9  established in subsection (6).

10         (d)  A charter may be terminated immediately if the

11  sponsor determines that good cause has been shown or if the

12  health, safety, or welfare of the students is threatened. The

13  school district in which the charter school is located shall

14  assume operation of the school under these circumstances. The

15  charter school's governing board may, within 14 days after

16  receiving the sponsor's decision to terminate the charter,

17  appeal the decision pursuant to the procedure established in

18  subsection (6).

19         (e)  When a charter is not renewed or is terminated,

20  the school shall be dissolved under the provisions of law

21  under which the school was organized, and any unencumbered

22  public funds, except for capital outlay funds, from the

23  charter school shall revert to the district school board.

24  Capital outlay funds provided pursuant to s. 1013.62 that are

25  unencumbered shall revert to the department to be

26  redistributed among eligible charter schools. If In the event

27  a charter school is dissolved or is otherwise terminated, all

28  district school board property and improvements, furnishings,

29  and equipment purchased with public funds shall automatically

30  revert to full ownership by the district school board, subject

31  to complete satisfaction of any lawful liens or encumbrances.

                                  22

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 1  Any unencumbered public funds from the charter school,

 2  district school board property and improvements, furnishings,

 3  and equipment purchased with public funds, or financial or

 4  other records pertaining to the charter school, in the

 5  possession of any person, entity, or holding company, other

 6  than the charter school, shall be held in trust upon the

 7  district school board's request, until any appeal status is

 8  resolved.

 9         (9)  CHARTER SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS.--

10         (h)  An No organization may not shall hold more than 25

11  15 charters statewide.

12         (i)  In order to provide financial information that is

13  comparable to that reported for other public schools, charter

14  schools are to maintain all financial records that which

15  constitute their accounting system:

16         1.  In accordance with the accounts and codes

17  prescribed in the most recent issuance of the publication

18  titled "Financial and Program Cost Accounting and Reporting

19  for Florida Schools"; or

20         2.  At the discretion of the charter school governing

21  board, a charter school may elect to follow generally accepted

22  accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, but

23  must reformat this information for reporting according to this

24  paragraph.

25  

26  Charter schools are to provide annual financial report and

27  program cost report information in the state-required formats

28  for inclusion in district reporting in compliance with s.

29  1011.60(1). Charter schools that are operated by a

30  municipality or are a component unit of a parent nonprofit

31  organization may use the accounting system of the municipality

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 1  or the parent but must reformat this information for reporting

 2  according to this paragraph.

 3         (17)  FUNDING.--Students enrolled in a charter school,

 4  regardless of the sponsorship, shall be funded as if they are

 5  in a basic program or a special program, the same as students

 6  enrolled in other public schools in the school district.

 7  Funding for a charter lab school shall be as provided in s.

 8  1002.32.

 9         (d)  District school boards shall make every effort to

10  ensure that charter schools receive timely and efficient

11  payment and reimbursement to charter schools, including

12  processing paperwork required to access special state and

13  federal funding for which they may be eligible. The district

14  school board may distribute funds to a charter school for up

15  to 3 months based on the projected full-time equivalent

16  student membership of the charter school. Thereafter, the

17  results of full-time equivalent student membership surveys

18  shall be used in adjusting the amount of funds distributed

19  monthly to the charter school for the remainder of the fiscal

20  year. The payment shall be issued no later than 10 working

21  days after the district school board receives a distribution

22  of state or federal funds. If a warrant for payment is not

23  issued within 10 30 working days after receipt of funding by

24  the district school board, the school district shall pay to

25  the charter school, in addition to the amount of the scheduled

26  disbursement, interest at a rate of 5 1 percent per month

27  calculated on a daily basis on the unpaid balance from the

28  expiration of the 10-day 30-day period until such time as the

29  warrant is issued. Failure of the school district to make

30  timely payments and reimbursements may result in the

31  

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 1  Commissioner of Education's withholding the distribution of

 2  additional funds to the school district.

 3         (18)  FACILITIES.--

 4         (a)  A charter school shall use utilize facilities that

 5  which comply with the Florida Building Code pursuant to

 6  chapter 553 except for the State Requirements for Educational

 7  Facilities. Charter schools need are not required to comply,

 8  but may choose to comply, with the State Requirements for

 9  Educational Facilities of the Florida Building Code adopted

10  under pursuant to s. 1013.37. The local governing authority

11  may shall not adopt or impose local building requirements or

12  restrictions that are more stringent than those found in the

13  Florida Building Code. The agency having jurisdiction for

14  inspection of a facility and issuance of a certificate of

15  occupancy shall be the local municipality or, if in an

16  unincorporated area, the county governing authority.

17         (d)  Charter school facilities are exempt from

18  assessments of fees for building permits, except as provided

19  in s. 553.80, and for building and occupational licenses and

20  from assessments of impact fees or service availability fees.

21         (e)  If a district school board facility or property is

22  available because it is surplus, marked for disposal, or

23  otherwise unused, it shall be provided for a charter school's

24  use on the same basis as it is made available to other public

25  schools in the district. A charter school receiving property

26  from the school district may not sell or dispose of such

27  property without written permission of the school district.

28  Similarly, for an existing public school converting to charter

29  status, no rental or leasing fee for the existing facility or

30  for the property normally inventoried to the conversion school

31  may be charged by the district school board to the parents and

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 1  teachers organizing the charter school. The charter school

 2  must organizers shall agree to reasonable maintenance

 3  provisions in order to maintain the facility in a manner

 4  similar to district school board standards. The Public

 5  Education Capital Outlay maintenance funds or any other

 6  maintenance funds generated by the facility operated as a

 7  conversion school shall remain with the conversion school.

 8         (20)  SERVICES.--

 9         (a)  A sponsor shall provide certain administrative and

10  educational services to charter schools. These services shall

11  include contract management services; full-time equivalent and

12  data reporting services; exceptional student education

13  administration and evaluation services; such eligibility and

14  reporting duties as are required to ensure school lunch

15  services, consistent with the needs of charter school

16  students; test administration services, including payment of

17  the costs of state-required or district-required student

18  assessments; processing of teacher certificate data services;

19  and information services, including equal access to student

20  information systems that are used by public schools in the

21  district in which the charter school is located. A total

22  administrative fee for the provision of such services shall be

23  calculated based upon 5 percent of the available funds defined

24  in paragraph (17)(b) for all students. However, a sponsor may

25  only withhold a 5-percent administrative fee for enrollment

26  for up to and including 500 students. For a charter school

27  that has charter schools with a population of 501 or more

28  students, the difference between the total administrative fee

29  calculation and the amount of the administrative fee withheld

30  may only be used only for capital outlay purposes specified in

31  s. 1013.62(2). Sponsors shall not charge charter schools any

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 1  additional fees or surcharges for administrative and

 2  educational services in addition to the 5-percent

 3  administrative fee withheld pursuant to this paragraph. The

 4  Department of Education shall conduct a study of the

 5  administrative fee withheld by the sponsor. The study must

 6  include, but is not limited to, the total amount of the funds

 7  withheld, the number of charter school students served, and

 8  the services provided. By December 1, 2005, the department

 9  shall report its findings to the Governor, the President of

10  the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and

11  the Commissioner of Education.

12         (21)  PUBLIC INFORMATION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS.--The

13  Department of Education shall provide information to the

14  public, directly and through sponsors, both on how to form and

15  operate a charter school and on how to enroll in charter

16  schools once they are created. This information shall include

17  a standard application format, charter format, and charter

18  renewal format, which must shall include the information

19  specified in subsection (7). These formats shall be used as

20  guidelines by charter school sponsors. This application format

21  may be used by chartering entities.

22         (22)  CHARTER SCHOOL REVIEW PANEL AND LEGISLATIVE

23  REVIEW.--

24         (a)  The Department of Education shall staff and

25  regularly convene a Charter School Review Panel in order to

26  review issues, practices, and policies regarding charter

27  schools. The composition of the review panel shall include

28  individuals with experience in finance, administration, law,

29  education, and school governance, and individuals familiar

30  with charter school construction and operation. The panel

31  shall include two appointees each from the Commissioner of

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 1  Education, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the

 2  House of Representatives. The Governor shall appoint three

 3  members of the panel and shall designate the chair. Each

 4  member of the panel shall serve a 1-year term, unless renewed

 5  by the office making the appointment. The panel shall make

 6  recommendations to the Legislature, to the Department of

 7  Education, to charter schools, and to school districts for

 8  improving charter school operations and oversight and for

 9  ensuring best business practices at and fair business

10  relationships with charter schools.

11         (b)  The Legislature shall review the operation of

12  charter schools during the 2010 2005 Regular Session of the

13  Legislature.

14         (24)  FLORIDA CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

15  AUTHORITY.--

16         (a)  Responsibilities.--The Florida Charter School

17  Accountability Authority (FCSAA) is a component of the

18  delivery of public education within the K-20 education system

19  in this state and shall be funded through the Department of

20  Education. Unless otherwise provided by law, the authority

21  shall comply with all laws and rules applicable to state

22  agencies. The authority shall report to the State Board of

23  Education and the Chancellor for K-12 Public Schools, as

24  required.

25         (b)  Mission.--The mission of the FCSAA is to encourage

26  and facilitate innovation, educational excellence, and high

27  standards of financial and educational accountability for

28  charter schools in this state.

29         (c)  Board of Trustees of the Florida Charter School

30  Accountability Authority.--There is created a Board of

31  Trustees of the Florida Charter School Accountability

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 1  Authority which shall consist of nine members, three of whom

 2  are appointed by the Governor, two of whom are appointed by

 3  the President of the Senate, two of whom are appointed by the

 4  Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two of whom are

 5  appointed by the Commissioner of Education. The Governor shall

 6  designate one of the Governor's appointees to act as chair of

 7  the FCSAA. The Governor may remove any member for cause, and a

 8  vacancy shall be filled by the entity that first made the

 9  appointment.

10         1.  Each member of the authority must:

11         a.  Have had experience as a charter school board

12  member or founder of a charter school;

13         b.  Have been a public school adminstrator with

14  experience working with charter schools;

15         c.  Have had experience in financial management;

16         d.  Have detailed knowledge of charter school law;

17         e.  Have had experience as a public school teacher;

18         f.  Have school district special education expertise;

19  or

20         g.  Have expertise in curriculum and assessment.

21         3.  Each member of the board shall be appointed to

22  serve a term of 2 years.

23         4.  The FCSAA Board of Trustees shall hold public

24  meetings at least quarterly. Additional meetings may be called

25  by the chair or upon the request of three members of the

26  authority. Five members of the board constitute a quorum. The

27  FCSAA Board of Trustees shall employ an executive director and

28  staff. The board shall at all times act in accordance with the

29  rules of the State Board of Education.

30         5.  The FCSAA shall establish regional offices as

31  necessary to accomplish the duties and functions of the board,

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 1  including coordination and collaboration with the district

 2  school boards.

 3         (d)  Duties.--The FCSAA shall:

 4         1.  Develop, promote, and disseminate best practices

 5  and provide technical assistance to charter schools and

 6  charter school sponsors.

 7         2.  Develop, promote, and disseminate high standards of

 8  financial and educational accountability.

 9         3.  Oversee and establish charter schools under this

10  section.

11         4.  Deliver to the Department of Education accurate

12  information about subjects including, but not limited to, best

13  practices, financial management and charter school budgets,

14  student performance and assessment, and accountability

15  standards. This information must be included on the

16  department's website for charter schools.

17         5.  Be designated as a local educational agency.

18         6.  Annually review and evaluate the performance of

19  charter schools authorized by the FCSAA and measure the

20  charter schools' compliance with the terms and requirements of

21  their respective charters. This review and evaluation must

22  include, but is not limited to, an assessment of student

23  achievement in the various charter schools.

24         7.  Direct charter schools and persons who seek to

25  establish charter schools to sources of private, state, and

26  federal funding and grant opportunities.

27         8.  Have the authority to adopt rules under ss.

28  120.536(1) and 120.54.

29         9.  Have the authority to contract for services with

30  the school district at a rate no greater than the district's

31  

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 1  actual cost unless a different rate is mutually agreed to by

 2  the parties.

 3         (e)  Funding.--

 4         1.  The authority may receive and expend gifts, grants,

 5  and donations of any kind from any public or private entity to

 6  carry out the purposes of this section, subject to the terms

 7  and conditions under which the gifts, grants, and donations

 8  are given; however, a gift, grant, or donation may not be

 9  accepted if the terms and conditions attached thereto are

10  contrary to law.

11         2.  The authority need not commence operations

12  necessary to receive applications until there is at least

13  $100,000 in the fund, whether received from gifts, grants,

14  donations, or other sources.

15         3.  The authority may retain up to 5 percent of the

16  available funds as defined in paragraph (17)(b) as an

17  administrative fee for services provided.

18         (25)(24)  RULEMAKING.--The Department of Education,

19  after consultation with school districts and charter school

20  directors, shall recommend that the State Board of Education

21  adopt rules to implement specific subsections of this section.

22  Such rules shall require minimum paperwork and shall not limit

23  charter school flexibility authorized by statute.

24         Section 2.  Subsection (2) of section 1012.74, Florida

25  Statutes, is amended to read:

26         1012.74  Florida educators professional liability

27  insurance protection.--

28         (2)(a)  Educator professional liability coverage for

29  all instructional personnel, including instructional personnel

30  in charter schools, as defined by s. 1012.01(2), who are

31  full-time personnel, as defined by the district school board

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 1  policy, shall be provided by specific appropriations under the

 2  General Appropriations Act.

 3         (b)  Educator professional liability coverage shall be

 4  extended at cost to all instructional personnel, including

 5  instructional personnel in charter schools, as defined by s.

 6  1012.01(2), who are part-time personnel, as defined by the

 7  district school board policy, and choose to participate in the

 8  state-provided program.

 9         (c)  Educator professional liability coverage shall be

10  extended at cost to all administrative personnel, including

11  administrative personnel in charter schools, as defined by s.

12  1012.01(3), who choose to participate in the state-provided

13  program.

14         Section 3.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2005.

15  

16  

17  

18  

19  

20  

21  

22  

23  

24  

25  

26  

27  

28  

29  

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31  

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 1            *****************************************

 2                          SENATE SUMMARY

 3    Provides that a charter school may be formed by
      reconstituting an existing charter school. Amends the
 4    list of allowable purposes for charter schools.
      Authorizes the Florida Charter School Accountability
 5    Authority (FCSAA) to be a charter school sponsor.
      Provides for the sponsor's policies to apply to a charter
 6    school by mutual agreement. Amends provisions relating to
      postponing the deadline for the school board's vote on
 7    approving an applicant for a charter. Provides for the
      appeal of an FCSAA decision. Revises application
 8    deadlines and procedures. Provides limitations on matters
      that are subject to the ruling of an administrative law
 9    judge. Sets the permissible term of a charter at 5 years,
      rather than "3, 4, or 5 years". Requires, rather than
10    merely allowing, that a charter renewal be granted to a
      charter school that meets specified conditions. Revises
11    the list of causes for nonrenewal or termination of a
      charter. Increases from 15 to 25 the number of charters
12    that an organization may hold statewide. Requires
      district school boards to make timely and efficient
13    payment and reimbursement to charter schools. Tightens
      deadlines and increases administrative penalties for the
14    failure to make such reimbursements. Exempts charter
      school facilities from the assessment of occupational
15    license fees. Revises the list of services that a sponsor
      must provide. Requires the Department of Education to
16    conduct a study of the administrative fee withheld by the
      sponsors and to submit a report, as specified. Requires
17    the department to provide to the public information on a
      charter format and a charter renewal format, as well as
18    an application format, to be used by sponsors as
      guidelines. Creates the Florida Charter School
19    Accountability Authority. Provides for the funding,
      administration, mission, and duties of the authority.
20    Creates the Board of Trustees of the Florida Charter
      School Accountability Authority. Provides for board
21    membership, qualifications, and meetings and for regional
      offices to assist the board. Provides for the FCSAA to
22    accept funding from various sources. Delays FCSAA
      activation until the amount of accrued funding reaches
23    $100,000. Authorizes the FCSAA to retain a 5-percent
      administrative fee. Provides to instructional and
24    administrative personnel in charter schools the option of
      obtaining educator professional liability coverage at
25    cost.

26  

27  

28  

29  

30  

31  

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