December 10, 2020

Thousand of New Seats Coming!
It may be the nation’s tiniest state, but it has big plans for charter schools. Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, who is overseeing the state takeover of the struggling Providence Public Schools, has recommended that the state approve three new charter schools and expand three others. What to expect:

Massachusetts-based Excel Academy is seeking to open a K-12 “mayoral academy” that would enroll nearly 2,200 students by 2030. A K-8 school affiliated with Providence College would enroll 414 city students by 2025, while an independent school for Providence middle school students would open in 2021, serving 252 students by 2023.
Achievement First, which already enrolls more than 3,000 elementary and middle school students in the state, would expand by 2,628 students from Providence and North Providence, by 2033. The Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School and the Segue Institute for Learning would each nearly double in 2021.Dan McGowen, These are the new charter schools Commissioner Infante-Green wants to see in Rhode Island, Boston Globe, December 8, 2020

Lack of Data Earns Welcome Reprieve for Some California Charter Schools 
Last year, California passed Assembly Bill 1505 (AB 1505), which authorized school districts to evaluate whether a charter school should have its charter renewed. But, as districts are considering their first batches of charter renewal applications, they are grappling with a lack of data, due to the pandemic-forced cancellation of last year’s state tests.

Citing “unprecedented circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, approved all 26 of the schools up for renewal in the district, including “conditional approval” for four low-performing schools. The reprieve gives the four schools at least two additional years to improve their performance. Under AB 1505, California's top-performing charter schools can be renewed for as long as seven years, while those in the middle range can receive a five-year extension. With continuing uncertainty about testing in 2021, it’s unclear how long it will take for California’s new accountability structure to become fully implemented. Linda Jacobsen, As California’s New Charter Law Takes Effect, Schools Bracing for Shutdowns Could Win a Reprieve from Pandemic, The 74 Million, November 22, 2020


Helping the Charter School Investment Community Keep Up in the "New Normal" 
If you financed or invested in a school building with charter school bonds, or are seeking funding for a facility, you might want to invest some time in understanding the type of continuing disclosure lenders expect in this time of uncertainty. Alexis Turner, Director of Business Operations at School Improvement Partnership, is this week's featured speaker. Click here to get her perspective on how the information bond holders require of charter schools is rapidly changing. Alexis' report comes from Philadelphia as part of the “School Improvement Partnership News Hour: News You Can Use.


A New Day for Charter Schools In New Hampshire
New Hampshire House and Senate Republicans are moving ahead this week on the first piece of a $46 million federal grant that is designed to double the state’s charter schools. It’s their first major legislative action since taking control of both legislative houses last month. While the U.S. Department of Education awarded the money in August 2019, New Hampshire Democrats had vigorously blocked the state’s education department from accessing it. New Hampshire’s award, the biggest of any state applicant, is intended to double the number of charter schools there, adding 27 to the existing 29 schools, and allowing five existing schools to expand. The amount expected to be approved this week is the first tranche of the five-year grant, or roughly $10 million. Ethan DeWitt, With New GOP Leadership, New Hampshire Poised to Use Federal Funds to Double Charter Schools, Concord Monitor, December 7, 2020
Pushing Charter Friendly Legislation in West Virginia
West Virginia last year became the latest state in the nation to allow charter schools, but so far local school boards have denied all applications. State Senate Education Committee Chair Patricia Rucker is now pushing legislation to rapidly accelerate charter school growth in the state. It includes creating a state authorizing agency that would give charter school applicants a fair hearing, so that applicants are not at the mercy of hostile school district boards. The Republican lawmaker also proposes eliminating a provision in the state’s charter school law that renders it ineligible for federal charter school dollars. West Virginia Republicans won legislative supermajorities in the November general election. The 2021 regular legislative session begins in February. Metro News Staff, Rucker Hopeful to Change Charter School Law, Metro News West Virginia, December 6, 2020
Investors Increasingly Value Competent Periodic Reporting
This week, School Improvement Partnership added Cirrus Academy in Macon, Georgia to its portfolio of charter schools and CMOs for which it serves as Continuing Disclosure Agent. Any charter school that accesses the high-yield municipal bond market needs to file Quarterly and Annual reports for bond investors to keep up with material information on their school. Over the past five years, School Improvement Partnership has automated the reporting process for its charter schools to save them time, and sought input from institutional investors to ensure that key data points are reflected in the reports. The result: periodic reporting that allows investors to easily monitor and value their charter school bond portfolio.  
In addition to Georgia, School Improvement Partnership provides periodic reports on charter schools and CMOs in California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. As continuing disclosure agent for more than 40 schools in six states, we enhance the form and content of secondary market information for charter school bond investors. On behalf of such investors, School Improvement Partnership performs comprehensive evaluations of charter school borrowers in transition - both pre-investment and post-investment. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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