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Charter School Authorizer Toolkit

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is pleased to present to you the first Pennsylvania Charter School Authorizer Toolkit for School Districts. This toolkit is being offered as an optional instrument for your use, but you are highly encouraged to consider it for your district.  Feel free to modify and adapt the toolkit as you see fit.
 
The role of the Charter School Authorizer is essential to the success of students attending charter schools in the Commonwealth. To meet this need, we have prepared several key documents that can be used to help fulfill your responsibilities under the Charter School Law, and can support your meaningful interaction with charter schools in your district.
 
We continue to strive to provide high quality support to all schools in the Commonwealth. We share a common goal of serving all Pennsylvania children in succeeding in academics and in life. The Department also takes seriously its commitment to provide technical assistance and support to authorizers, as well as to charter schools. Please feel free to contact the Charter School office in the Division of Nonpublic, Private and Charter School Services at 717-705-8019 if we can provide further assistance, or if you would like to make any recommendations or changes to this toolkit. 
  

I. Introduction

What is my role as the charter school authorizer?  (Word)
This document provides an overview of the Charter School Law provisions and outlines the authorizer's role and responsibilities in granting and overseeing the charter.
      

II. Process for Initial Charter School Application  

What is the timeline for the Initial Application of the Charter?  (Word)
This document provides a timeframe for reviewing an initial application.

What needs to be understood between the authorizer and the charter school?  (Word)
This document attempts to ensure there is a complete understanding of what is expected between the authorizer and the charter school.
 
What might a Charter School Application look like?  (Word)
This document provides the district with key areas of information that are essential in the decision-making process.
 
How do I calculate Charter School Cash Flow Projections? (Excel)
This excel workbook includes a sample budget form to be filled out and submitted with the original application, a user-friendly worksheet to help calculate benefits, and cash flow projection sheets for the first five years.   
         

III. Review of Initial Charter School Application

What should be included in the Charter School Application Review Tool?  (Word)
This is a comprehensive framework to evaluate charter school applications.
 
What might a Charter School Application Summary of Reviews look like? (Word)
This sample chart is intended to provide a useful grid for compiling multiple reviewer input into a final recommendation sheet.
 
What must I do when conducting a Charter School Public Hearing? (Word)
This document provides basic guidance on how to conduct the required public hearing for each charter school application.    
     

IV. School Opening

What materials should be submitted prior to the charter school opening? (Word)
This list provides information on the materials that should be submitted to the authorizing school board prior to the opening of the approved charter school    
 

V. Charter School Annual Review

What are the Charter School Laws on the annual review of a charter school? (Word)
This is a brief overview of the Charter School Law provisions that outline the authorizer's and charter's responsibilities in producing annual reports.
 
What is the timeline for the Annual Review Process? (Word)
This document provides a timeframe for producing an annual report.
 
What might a Charter School Financial Statement Analysis look like? (Word)
This document provides a user-friendly outline of ways to analyze audit reports performed on charter schools, including ratio calculations, types of opinions and other pertinent information.  
 

 VI. Charter School Renewal/Non-renewal Process

What are the Charter School Laws on the renewal process? (Word)
This is a brief overview of the Charter School Law provisions that outline the authorizer's and charter school's responsibilities in renewing a charter.
 
What is the timeline for the renewal application? (Word)
This document provides a timeframe for producing a renewal application for a charter school.
 
What are the instructions for the Charter School Renewal Letter? (Word)
This document provides general instructions for creating the charter school renewal letter. 
   

VII. Termination of Charter Agreement

What steps should the authorizer take if they choose not to revoke the charter agreement?  (Word)
This page provides reasons for revocation and the required steps an authorizer must take if the decision is made to revoke a charter agreement.
 
How should the School Board communicate the decision to revoke a charter and what supporting material should the board provide to the charter school? (Word)
This document provides the same formats used for renewal of a charter agreement; however, districts should only complete the sections for which there are concerns that are causing the need for charter revocation. (For example: If student achievement is the reason for non-renewal, the board should complete on the sections of the renewal packet having to do with student achievement and do not need to complete sections referring to management of financial resources.)
 
What happens to a charter school after the charter agreement is terminated? (Word) 
This page provides next steps for closing the school, enrollment of students and asset and liability determinations.
 
 
Please Note: Revoking a charter is done during the term of a charter. Authorizers that wish not to renew a charter agreement should follow the steps outlined in the section:
VI. Charter School Renewal/Non-renewal Process.