TCSA Legislative Priorities for Public Charter Schools: 83rd Legislature

tcsa man speaking

The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA), a nonprofit organization comprised of member schools, works to accelerate student achievement by improving & promoting a diverse set of effective and quality-driven public charter schools. The Legislative Priorities of Texas charter schools include efforts to close the funding gap between public charter schools and traditional public schools, help implement new student growth measures to fairly assess school performance for all public schools, and lift the state cap on charters while replicating highly effective schools.

Download TCSA's Legislative Priorities.

Equal Funding for Charter Students & Facilities
Providing the necessary resources for charter students and schools.

Texas public charter schools receive approximately $1,500 less in general fund revenue per pupil than traditional public schools, according to a February 2011 Rolle study on funding inequities. Charters receive per pupil funding in the same manner as other public schools, but do not benefit from local tax revenue. Charters also receive no state funding for facilities.
The courts may address the constitutionality of these inequities, but charter students and schools deserve legislative action to provide equal access to state resources.

Facilities Funding: Charter schools should receive a per pupil facilities allotment for maintenance and operation.

Equitable Funding: Charter schools should receive funding for students equal to that of traditional public schools.

Property Tax Relief: Facilities leased to charter schools should be exempt from real property for the duration of the lease so that the savings can be best-used in the classroom.

Use of Local School Facilities: To best use taxpayer funds which have already been expended, underutilized or unused school district facilities should be leased or sold to charter schools.

Update Credit Enhancement Program: To match legislative intent from the 81st Legislature, clarify rules for the charter school bond enhancement program enabling private donors to designate the school entitled to receive credit enhancement through the donor's matching contribution.

Expand Access to the Permanent School Fund Bond Guarantee Program: For refinancing to achieve lower interest rates and return funds to be used in the classroom.

Access to the PSF bond guarantee: The TEA should complete its work with the IRS to ensure the Permanent School Fund bond guarantee for eligible charters is implemented as passed by the 82nd Legislature, First Called Session.

Charter School Quality & Accountability
Ensuring state accountability accurately measures the achievement of students and the mission of charter schools.

Through the Quality Framework, committed Texas charter schools are focused on continuous improvement to maintain high-quality and effective instruction for students. Charter schools are held accountable for their performance like other public schools, and both traditional school district and charter school students would benefit from a more sophisticated measure of their achievement.

In addition, forty percent of charter campuses are dedicated to serving at-risk students, or students who have already dropped out of school to help them recover credits and graduate. Schools with significant enrollment of at-risk, over-aged, or credit-deficient students should be fairly measured to accurately reflect their quality and effectiveness.

Accurate Measure of Student Achievement: Adoption of a measure for individual student growth over time would benefit all public schools, including charter schools, and the measure should apply for calculation of Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind.

Drop-out Recovery Designation: Charter schools serving a higher percentage of at-risk high school students should qualify for a drop-out recovery designation under Chapter 12 of the Texas Education Code, to more accurately measure this population of students.

Update Residential Treatment Center (RTC)Designations:

  • RTC students should be measured similarly to students in Juvenile Detention Centers in the area of district accountability ratings.
  • RTC students with a doctor's exemption (MD or Psychologist) should be reflected accurately in the campus accountability system.

Work with TEA to use its statutory and regulatory authority to close charter schools that are not meeting the needsof their students:

  • Every charter school should be a high- quality, effective, financially viable place of learning, because that is the promise made when a charter is accepted
  • There is zero room in the charter school movement to protect chronically failing schools that consistently do not meet the needs of our students.

Clarify the Performance-Based Monitoring System (PBMAS):

  • Adopt accurate measurement of students based on charter school mission type to better align with PBMAS standards.
  • Provide schools with PBMAS conference or TEA appeals process and adequate PBMAS intervention schedule to give charter schools time to interpret data appropriately and make needed improvements.

Charter Growth, Renewal & Replication
Meeting the demand for more public charter schools.

More than 101,000 students are on waiting lists toattend charter schools, but the state-imposed, arbitrary cap on charters denies these students an important educational choice. Allowing limited and managed growth of new charters and the efficient renewal and replication of high-performing, existing charters will provide needed public education options for thousands of families across the state.

Lifting the Arbitrary Cap on Charters: Allow for managed growth of effective charters by granting the State Board of Education the authority to award 20 new charters annually.

Update the Renewal and Replication Process for High- Quality, Existing Charter Schools: Streamline the renewal and replication process for charter schools rated academically acceptable and above, and demonstrating success for students.

Adjust replication and renewal timelines at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to help ensure successful management for charter operators: To allow time for adequate planning and student recruitment, modify TEA's approval timeline for renewal and replication submissions.