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Which authorizers are accepting charter applications?
To determine which authorizers are accepting charter applications, begin with an analysis of where the proposed charter school will be located. There are multiple eligible authorizers that a development team may engage with. Local school districts, intermediate school districts, and community colleges can issue charter school contracts within their geographic boundaries.
The University authorizers and Bay Mills Community College can issue charters anywhere within the State of Michigan.
How does a developer apply for a charter?
Each Michigan authorizer has its process, forms, and requirements. However, the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (MCCSA) has developed a common Phase I charter application that can help developers plan for the types of questions they will be asked. For a list of current authorizers, see the List of Authorizers on the MDE PSA website. For further information, navigate to the contract checklist on the Resources for Authorizers page.
What are the major responsibilities of an authorizing body?
Pursuant to MCL 380.502(4): “An authorizing body shall oversee, or shall contract with an intermediate school district, community college, or state public university to oversee, each public school academy operating under a contract issued by the authorizing body. The authorizing body is responsible for overseeing compliance by the board of directors with the contract and all applicable law.”1 These oversight duties include:
- Thoroughly reviewing the applicant’s educational plan. The plan must address the educational needs of the students, curriculum goals and objectives, teaching methods, and student assessment;2
- Determining if all fire, safety, and health codes are met;
- Developing a description of the methods used to monitor the charter school’s compliance with applicable law and its performance in meeting its targeted educational objectives. Authorizers must implement a corrective plan of action for their schools that do not meet those standards;
- Ensure charter school boards operate independently of any educational management company involved in the operation of the school;
- Developing a description of the process for amending the contract during the term of the contract;
- Setting and enforcing the terms of the authorizing contract, including adopting a resolution establishing the method of selection, length of term, and the number of members of the board of directors of the charter school. Authorizers must also ensure the local community is represented on the board and that all board members are US citizens
- Within ten days after issuing a charter school contract, a charter school contract must be submitted to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- A contract with a charter school may be revoked by the authorizing body if one or more of the following occurs:
- failure of the charter school to demonstrate improved academic achievement for all groups of pupils or meet the educational goals outlined in the contract
- failure of the charter school to comply with applicable law
- failure of the charter school to meet accepted public sector accounting principles and demonstrate sound fiscal stewardship
- or other grounds for revocation specified in the contract.
Additional powers granted to authorized bodies in the MCL 380.507 include acting as fiscal agent for the charter school—the state school aid payment for the charter school is paid to the authorizing body that is the fiscal agent for the charter school, which then forwards the payment, up to a maximum of 3 percent, to the charter school.
1“If the superintendent of public instruction finds that an authorizing body is not engaging in appropriate continuing oversight of 1 or more public school academies operating under a contract issued by the authorizing body, the superintendent of public instruction shall suspend the power of the authorizing body to issue new contracts to organize and operate public school academies. A contract issued by the authorizing body during the suspension is void. A contract issued by the authorizing body before the suspension is not affected by the suspension.” [MCL 380.502(5)]
2The Revised School Code states, “…to the extent applicable, the progress of the pupils in the public school academy must be assessed using both the mathematics and reading portions of the Michigan student test of educational progress (M-STEP) or the Michigan merit examination under section 1279g, as applicable.” [MCL 380.502(3)(e)(ii)]
If a school district, intermediate school district, or community college is interested in becoming an authorizer, what action steps are needed?
No formal MDE filing or approval is required for an organization to become an authorizer. Pursuant to MCL 380.502(3), the organization must notify MDE of its actions and provide copies of the charter application and contract to the Superintendent of Public Instruction within ten (10) days of approval.
It is advisable for an eligible organization considering becoming an authorizer to weigh all aspects of this decision carefully. A wide array of resources and insights are available. Visit the MDE Public School Academies page to learn more, or call MDE at (517) 373-4631 with specific questions after reviewing available online resources.
How do authorizers decide which schools to authorize?
In deciding whether to issue a contract for a proposed public school academy, the authorizing body is required to consider:
- The resources available for the proposed academy;
- The population to be served by the proposed academy;
- The education goals to be achieved by the proposed academy;
- The applicant’s track record, if any, in organizing public school academies;
- The graduation rate of a school district in which the proposed academy is proposed to be located;
- The population of a county in which the proposed public school academy is proposed to be located;
- The number of schools in the proximity of a proposed location of the proposed public school academy that is identified as among the lowest achieving 5% of all public schools in the state;
- The number of pupils on waiting lists of public school academies in the proximity of the proposed location of the Academy.
Also, authorizer decisions related to contract renewal must include increases in student academic achievement for all groups of pupils as “the most important” factor. [MCL 380.503(6)(h)].