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ACCS Meeting Notes for February 2, 2011

Meeting notes taken at the ACCS meeting on February 2, 2011.

Advisory Commission on Charter Schools
An Advisory Body to the State Board of Education

FINAL NOTES

California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Room 1101
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

COMMISSION MEMBERS

Brian Bauer
Dr. Vicki Barber
Dr. Paul Cartas
Gary Davis (Absent)
Beth Hunkapiller*
Mark Kushner
Curtis Washington (Absent)

Yvonne Chan, Member, State Board of Education

*Beth Hunkapiller is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s designee.

Principal Staff to the Advisory Commission

Bonnie Galloway, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Celina Torres, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Dmitriy Voloshin, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Steven Work, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Carolyn Zachry, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division

Call to Order

Chair Bauer called the meeting to order at 10:14 a.m.

Flag Salute

Ms. Ravare led the members, staff, and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Introductions

Chair Bauer welcomed Yvonne Chan and Trish Williams, as the two new liaisons from the State Board of Education (SBE).

Approval of Meeting Notes

Chair Bauer called for a motion to approve the meeting notes from October 5, 2010.

Review/Reordering of the Meeting Agenda

Chair Bauer announced a reordering of the agenda. He called presentations to be held in the following order: Item 3, Item 4, Item 2, and Item 1.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Chair Bauer called for public comments related to non-agenda items.

Jeff Rice, the founder and director of APLUS, the Association of Personalized Learning Services, requested that the ACCS call for an immediate and indefinite suspension of the Senate Bill (SB) 740 funding determination process. Mr. Rice stated that the funding determination process was inappropriate in this volatile and unpredictable economic time. He requested that the ACCS place this topic on the agenda of their next meeting. Mr. Rice also requested that the ACCS consider a universal mitigating circumstance situation for non-classroom based schools during these times. Mr. Rice recommended revisiting CDE’s Legal opinion so that the ACCS guidance paper on mitigating circumstances be applied now, absent of legislation because the legislative process takes too long and the issue is too urgent.

Peter Birdsall, representing School Innovations and Advocacy, agreed. Mr. Birdsall also pointed out that the mitigating circumstances criteria for 2011–12 year had not yet been established. He stated that it needs work and offered to help.

AGENDA ITEMS

Item 3: Report on Special Education Fiscal Issues Workgroup: Charters and SELPAs, Issues of the Day.
Dr. Barber introduced the presentation. Alice Parker, a Consultant working with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), presented the Power Point slides on pages 30–40.

Ms. Parker stated that the activities pertaining to LAUSD were to be completed at end of August.

Chair Bauer asked that Ms. Parker speak about Special Education (SE) averages for socioeconomically disadvantaged students (SED) for urban school districts and the impact of 504 plans on student identification. He asked whether there were incentives to identify students or not.

Ms. Parker stated that the national average for SE identification was 12.4 percent but that the average for urban areas was “interesting.” Ms. Parker said that Chicago Public Schools reported less than 10 percent, but the figure may be up to 25 percent for some individual schools. She guessed that if she looked at truly disabled students, the average would be six to nine percent of students. She stated that the average tends to be higher because many students identified are students with learning disabilities; students that have not been taught to read by third grade. She said that averages definitely vary per district. Ms. Parker stated that the average figures are less than the 13 to 15 percent advertised in most districts. She noted that medical conditions that are growing will cause more kids to be identified under 504 plans. She also stated that strategies to support all students, and differentiation, will likely reduce those identifications to truly disabled students.

Mr. Kushner applauded the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) for truly outstanding work on this issue.

Ms. Chan thanked Ms. Parker for her continued work on SE. She asked the following questions: Which model was used to identify students, the RTI squared model or the discrepancy model? And what is the rate of use in California? Ms. Parker said the discrepancy model had outlived its usefulness. She stated that there is a need to do the following: look at how children learn; develop quality research based assessments; and look at interventions used to support student learning. She said the discrepancy model is a medical model that is not appropriate because it does not address learning. 

After Ms. Parker concluded her presentation, Dr. Barber introduced Ms. Gina Plate, a Senior Advisor for SE with the California Charter School Association (CCSA). Ms. Plate presented information on the LAUSD SELPA Reorganization, pertaining to slides 22–28. The slides addressed the overarching structure of the new SELPA plan. She stated she would not take questions at this point in the presentation.

After Ms. Plate concluded her presentation, Dr. Barber proceeded to present slides 1–21, titled, Funding Overview. She highlighted three issues. First, she discussed SELPAs in declining enrollment in the 2009–10 year (slides three through five). Second, she presented information on different funding across SELPAS statewide (slide 9), and third, Dr. Barber spoke about the SELPA bifurcated rates (slides 14 forward).

Dr. Barber noted that slide 21 generated a lot of discussion. She stated that in January 2010, the SBE took action and approved EDCOE as a charter SELPA. Also, the SBE approved the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) as a charter SELPA for the year 2010–11. She also noted the ability of others such as LASER, and Desert Mountain also approved as out-of geographic area charter SELPAs.

Dr. Barber advanced the presentation to the section addressing the LACOE SELPA (slides 41–52). At this point, Ms. Plate indicated that she would answer questions.

Chair Bauer asked about fair share encroachment payments to the district. Ms. Plate said she still did not know what the 2012–13 year amount would be. She said that, currently, it was $1070. Chair Bauer then asked about next steps at LAUSD. Ms. Parker stated that the LAUSD School Board had a 7–0 unanimous vote that approved the SELPA to go in place July 1, 2007. She stated that it was now important to hire a SELPA director and that that process was presently under way. In addition, she stated that the bylaws for the advisory commission need to be finalized. She noted that a draft of the bylaws was currently being circulated among charter leaders. She indicated that the response from charter schools was positive, but that there were still many questions. For example, questions from the district centered on the encroachment payment and the capacity of the district to meet SE needs. Questions from charter operators centered on whether charter would truly have autonomy and how to ensure that actually happened.

Chair Bauer asked how many charters were in the LACOE SELPA and how many had applied to the LACOE SELPA. Ms. Plate said her work for CCSA is to increase options for students with special needs. She stated that LACOE had one member in its SELPA before, and it now had 29 applications beginning July 1, 2011. She indicated that most members are from the Los Angeles (LA) area, but that some were from outside the immediate geographic area. Chair Bauer asked whether charters leaving the LAUSD SELPA to join the LACOE SELPA would experience a sizable drop in funds.

Ms. Chan asked for an update on the work from the current CDE taskforce addressing this topic. Ms. Chan posed three questions. First, she stated that for years there was an effort to work out regionalized models and inquired whether there was still a state-level effort on this topic. Second, she asked where the savings in funding would go if a charter school leaves the LAUSD SELPA (which has a higher funding rate) to join the LACOE SELPA (which has a lower funding rate). Third, she asked whether the law specifies the current option available to charters (which allows them to be either their own LEA, for the purpose of Special Education funding, or under the district). In conclusion, she asked why it took 18 years and why it needed SBE approval.

Ms. Hunkapiller said that the workgroup focused their work on the impact of charter school membership on funding rates. She stated that the workgroup has not yet looked at the loss of SE funds. Ms. Hunkapiller noted that she and Scott Hannan could begin working on a legislative proposal. The next issue the workgroup will address is the impact of the regionalization of SELPAs and whether remote delivery of high quality services is available. Ms. Hunkapiller concluded that aside from funding issues, one regional/out of geographic area SELPA will not meet needs over time.

Ms. Chan was unclear if the SBE action was necessary and asked if it could be taken back.

Chair Bauer called for public comment. Jean Hatch, whom started a charter consortium of 12 schools, recommended caution regarding the hasty development of schools as their own LEAs because it is difficult to keep services at schools since the services follow the student.

Eric Premack, the Director of the Charter Schools Development Center, commended Ms. Plate, Dr. Barber, Jean Hatch and others that have been doing phenomenal work on a difficult system and making it work for students. He said that many SELPAs are not providing services to charters like they should. Although EDCOE has provided competition to district SELPAs, there is the problem of losing money per student when a charter leaves their current SELPA. This creates a situation where charters are held hostage at their current SELPA. In addition, the state approval process allows existing SELPAs to engage in a questionable process and inhibit the development of new SELPAs. He made the following three recommendations:

Mr. Kushner asked why California had SELPAs in the first place. Mr. Premack responded by saying that they were originally created in the 1970’s to work on complicated legal and funding issues. He said that California is unique because its SELPAs are large, and wield coercive governing power. He believed it is important to look to streamline the process and thus, get rid of SELPAs and go to direct funding for SE services.

Colin Miller, from CCSA, said the SELPA structure is not working like it should. He stated that it is time to visit new ideas for coordinated service delivery. Mr. Miller indicated that regional service delivery is no longer necessary anymore with new innovations.

Chair Bauer thanked Ms. Plate, Dr. Barber, and Ms. Parker.

Item 4: Consideration of Requests for Determination of Funding Rates as Required for Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools.

Cindy Chan, Administrator in the Charter Schools Division, introduced herself and James Harris, an Educational Programs Consultant with the Charter Schools Division.

James Harris presented information regarding request for determination of funding rates. He stated that the schools listed in Table 1 had a staff recommendation of 100 percent funding for two years. These were new schools that met Title 5 requirements.

Dr. Cartas asked about the school labeled number 1140. He noted that the curriculum funding amount was not noted in the application. Mr. Harris said it was omitted due to a clerical error and should have been included. Chair Bauer thanked James for the report.

Action: Dr. Cartas called for a motion to approve the funding determinations. Mr. Kushner seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously, with no one opposed.

James Harris presented Table 2, which listed schools with recommendation for 100 percent funding for four and five years and for continuing schools. He stated that Golden Valley received a five-year recommendation because it received a statewide rank of six for two years. Thus, it was eligible for a 5-year recommendation for funding.

Chair Bauer thanked Mr. Harris again for great work.

Public Comment: Dr. Cartas asked for public comment. There was no public comment.

Action: Mr. Kushner called a motion to approve the funding determination. Ms. Ravare seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

Item 2: ACCS 2011 Meeting Schedule

Chair Bauer points to the attachments for the item, including the final meeting dates.

Action: Mr. Kushner called for a motion to approve the meeting schedule. Dr. Cartas seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

Item 1: California Department of Education Update – To Include, but not be Limited to, the Public Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP), and Update on the December 2010 and January 2011 State Board of Education (SBE) Meetings.

Regarding the PCSGP, Ms. Hunkapiller indicated that applicants appeared to be having difficulty in completing the work plan requirement, which is new to the PCSGP this year. Out of the139 applicants, 30 are new, and109 are continuing grantees. She stated that the Charter Schools Division is focusing on developing the capacity to write good work plans. She said that applicants struggle, but it is very important for the development of high quality charter schools. She is open to hearing suggestions because new charters have a great need for money, however, they must meet the grant requirements, as well. Continuing grantees have to meet the new requirements in the new cycle.

Ms. Hunkapiller welcomed Ms. Chan and Ms. Williams and thanked them for being the SBE liaisons.

Regarding the SBE, the first charter petition before new SBE will be The School of Arts and Enterprise (The SAE). The CDE is currently developing its recommendation. Ms. Hunkapiller stated that the future of funding determinations under SB 740 was unclear because of the transition to the new administration. However, she stated that online learning is highly valued by the new administration but the focus is on performance. She also reported that the Aspire SBE item would be heard at the February SBE meeting.

Chair Bauer asked about The SAE. Ms. Hunkapiller indicated that the decision is still underway. Dr. Cartas inquired about the timeline for grant decisions. Ms. Hunkapiller said that there is still another month to score. Applications for the grant will be accepted through March 31, 2011 for fiscal year 2010-11.

Mr. Kushner offered his time to meet with and support new SBE members.

Ms. Chan thanked Mr. Kushner. She asked how recommendations were communicated to the SBE. Mr. Kushner provided a history of the ACCS, beginning in 2001, to advise and recommend to the SBE, requests for funding determination rates. He also mentioned that the ACCS advises the SBE on other charter issues, and that it hears from the charter community, districts, etc., and makes recommendations to SBE when appropriate (e.g. special education issues, Regional Occupational Program [ROP], University of California [UC], and others). Ms. Chan asked for a clear analysis in SBE items of ACCS discussion and decisions, and if there is a split vote, to explain why. Ms. Chan asked what role the ACCS really has on appeals. No answer was provided.

Possible agenda items

Mr. Kushner suggested the evaluation of SB 740 in its entirety, through a possible subcommittee, to develop recommendations for the ACCS to consider and jump start the process. In addition, he noted that UC approval of A-G courses is still a problem that has not been solved.

Dr. Cartas seconded the idea of forming a subcommittee. He wanted to allow Dr. Barber to finish her presentation to provide more discussion with the ACCS. He would like to also consider the role of the ACCS and whether it would provide the SBE recommendations on this item. Chair Bauer Brian welcomed Mr. Kushner to start process of forming a subcommittee before the next ACCS meeting.

The issues of alternative authorizing is suggested for the next agenda.

Chair Bauer asked for the issues on renewal and appeals petitions to be placed on the agenda for the next ACCS meeting.

Mr. Kushner raised the issue about FRPM eligibility for charter schools without 510(c)(3) tax exempt status. He states that it can take two or three years for charters to sort out eligibility in order to get nutrition funding. Lupita Cortez-Alcala, Deputy Superintendent,  mentioned that CDE federal liaisons are working on this topic. Mr. Kushner indicates that there is no need for and agenda item, only an update at next meeting, if available.

Chair Bauer expressed best wishes and thoughts for Dr. Barber and her schools due to the recent shooting.

Chair Bauer adjourned the meeting at 12:41 p.m.

Questions: Charter Schools Division | charters@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6029 
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