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November 4, 2021
                   
EDUCATION, FOR ONCE, AT CENTER OF MARQUEE RACES

Election Night Yields Mixed Bag for Public Charter Schools
The biggest disappointment of Tuesday’s elections for charter school advocates is likely in Denver, where union-supported candidates look likely to sweep all four contested seats, although two are still too close to call. If those seats do fall as expected, this would make the Denver Public School Board uniformly opposed to public charter schools, capping off the dismantling of reforms that made Denver one of the most promising choice districts just a few years ago. The news was better in Douglas County, Colorado, where a reform-backed slate took all four open seats on a seven-member board.
 
In Atlanta, several incumbent school board members who support charter schools appear to have won reelection, while other races are still being tallied. That board has been split 5-4 in charter schools’ favors in recent years.

New York City elected Eric Adams as mayor, who on multiple occasions has indicated support for public charter schools. Many political observers have speculated that Adams will tap his trusted advisor David Banks as the next chancellor. Banks is the founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, part of a charter network of all-boys schools in New York City and New Jersey. Alia Wong and Lindsay Schnell, Critical Race Theory, Mask Mandates Dominate 2021 School Board Elections — is 2022 Next?, USA Today, November 3, 2021

                    
STREAMLINING FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY
Texas Implements New Reporting Structure
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has informed charter schools that there is a new process for the submission of their annual financial audit report data. Charter schools must now submit their annual financial audit report data through the “Audit” application in Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL). This new process replaces the submission of the financial data on Excel data templates which were emailed to the TEA in previous years. The new system requires that at least one person at the Charter School has TEAL Audit application access. If a school uses a firm to track disclosures, the firm can be given TEAL Audit access to view and edit the data feed schedules. For instructions, click here: Charter School Annual Financial Report Data Feed Standards. Users can also see a demonstration in webinars today and tomorrow. To register, see the Financial Compliance Division’s Electronic Submissions web page. David Marx, TEA October 28, 2021

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PARTNERSHIP MAKES MAJOR TALENT ACQUISITION
Meet Our New Director of Data Management and Stewardship
                                    
John Sorce is the newest member of SIP's leadership team. In that role, John will take responsibility for the SIP database of financial, operational and academic metrics for charter school data, which is the only database of its kind in the public charter school sector. 

Prior to joining SIP, John worked closely with analytical, compliance, operational and legal groups within S&P Global. He managed teams responsible for ratings data for dissemination into ratings systems, as well as S&P Market Intelligence products. He also created and trained offshore teams to support the maintenance of reference and ratings data as well as the ability to do large data projects.  He played key roles in the cleanup of data dissemination rules, creation of new workflows as well as system and process changes required to meet the Dodd Frank disclosure regulations.

SIP is excited to welcome John as he takes the helm of the SIP Database, which is used by subscribers to manage their charter school bond portfolios.

                         
PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR'S CHARTER SCHOOL PROPOSAL GETS A HEARING

Charter Schools Testify in Opposition
The Senate Education Committee has begun vetting Governor Tom Wolf’s plans to tighten the rules for Pennsylvania’s charter schools. Representatives from the state Department of Education testified during the hearing that the proposed regulations were offered to provide more clarity to the state’s charter school law and provide consistency to ensure all of the state’s 175+ public charter schools are “on the same page.”
 
Wolf’s proposal would alter the charter school application process, require posting of non-discriminatory enrollment policies, reiterate board of trustees’ ethics and school financial reporting, outline a process for resolving payment disputes, and ensure charter school employees have comparable health benefits to their authorizing school district counterparts.
 
Charter schools offered testimony that the proposed rule changes are punitive to their schools. Lawrence Jones, CEO of Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School in Philadelphia, said the added administrative burden in the proposals would divert attention away from educating students, especially for single-site, minority operated schools with smaller staffs. Pointing out most of the charter schools in Philadelphia that have closed were minority operated, Jones said, “We now have regulations that will not serve to fix the bias. It will serve to create even more bias and I just don’t understand it.” Jan Murphy, Pa. Senate Panel Vets Proposed Charter School Regulations, PennLive, October 20, 2021

                    
GEORGIA'S CHARTER HIGH SCHOOLS OUTPERFORM STATE 

Public Opinion Also Improving
More Georgia high school students graduated from charter schools than the state average, data from the Georgia Department of Education shows. Brick-and mortar charter schools have a 92.5 percent graduation rate, which is almost nine percentage points higher than the state's overall graduation rate. When combined with virtual charters, the 2021 graduation rate for Georgia’s public charter schools still beat the state average 89.1 percent compared to 83.7 percent. Data also showed that many of the state’s public charter high schools also surpassed graduation rates in their local districts or attendance zones. Those numbers contribute to increased public approval: a September poll conducted on behalf of the Georgia Charter Schools Association found that 56 percent of registered voters in Georgia now favor increasing the number of public charter schools in Georgia. Nyamekye Daniel, Georgia Charter Schools Graduation Rate Tops State Average The Center Square, October 28, 2021

                                                 
MISSOURI CHARTER SCHOOL LEADER PROMOTED

Appointment Bodes Well for State's Public Charters
One of the leaders of a public charter school has been appointed to the State Board of Education by Missouri Governor Mike Parson. Kerry Casey, a founding board member of the KIPP Charter School in St. Louis, began serving on the state board on November 1Her term will run until July, 1, 2027, if she is confirmed by the state Senate. The State Board of Education oversees Missouri's 518 public school districts, 37 charter schools and state schools for the blind, deaf and severely disabled. AP, St. Louis Charter School Leader Picked for Missouri Ed Board, The Kansas City Star, November 1, 2021
CALIFORNIA CHARTER SCHOOL FIRST TO FIRE PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OVER VACCINATION
Say Mandate Left it "No Choice"
Seven employees from Granada Hills Charter School who were fired this week for refusing to get their COVID-19 shots are believed to be the first public school employees in California to lose their jobs over such vaccination mandates, an attorney representing some of the workers said. The school’s board of directors voted unanimously to fire the employees, who were denied exemptions, including ones based on religious beliefs. In a statement, the public charter school, which is located in the San Fernando Valley, said while the state’s vaccination mandate for school employees in California permits individuals to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing in lieu of getting their shots, the school must abide by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) vaccination policy. In addition to requiring staff to get vaccinated, the Granada Hills Charter School board recently adopted a student vaccination mandate, which mirrors LAUSD's. It requires vaccines for students age 12 and above. Linh Tat, California Charter School Fires 7 Employees for Refusing COVID Vaccine, The Mercury News, October 29, 2021
    
CHARTER SCHOOL IS DROPPING DIMES WITH B-BALL FOCUS

Goal is for Students to Swish into Good Paying Careers
Public charter school advocates have long claimed that one of their benefits is that they provide parents with a choice of school models. In New York, a basketball-centered high school, which opened in September, is a choice parents now have. While playing basketball is certainly an activity offered at the Earl Monroe Renaissance Charter School, the school’s founders and administrators insist that on-the-court activity is not their focus, and never will be. Rather, the focus is on everything surrounding the game. With a curriculum resembling a specialized college program, students can learn about coaching, uniform design, marketing, analytics, player representation, journalism and nutrition in addition to math, language arts, science and history. The idea is to prepare students for careers in basketball’s vast and growing ecosystem, including as front office executives, agents, reporters, broadcast technicians, athletic trainers, public relations staff, nutritionists, ticket sales representatives, statisticians and so on. Aspects of the game are also used to help students learn. For example, in a math class, a teacher used the arc of a Stephen Curry 3-pointer to explain a parabola. In another class, students interviewed one another for a project on broadcast journalism, centered on basketball.

The Monroe School is named after the player who, during his Knicks career from 1971 to 1980, was called “Earl the Pearl” and ran a basketball camp that provided attendees with instruction beyond playing the game. David Waldstein, The School That Aspires to Be a Basketball Factory (Not That Kind), The New York Times, October 5, 2021

School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. The School Improvement Partnership Database (or SIP Database) contains financial, academic and operating data on charter schools and charter school borrowers around the country. It is being built out to include all charter schools and charter school borrowers in the coming months. From each financial audit for a CMO or charter school, the SIP Database contains 50 financial data points, always refreshing automatically to include the three most recent years. The SIP Database has a dashboard for subscribers that displays requested data points in an easy-to read-fashion, and such data can be exported in Excel from the SIP Database to the subscriber. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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