The role of the charter school authorizer is critical to ensuring success and accountability for charter schools. Authorizers may be public school districts or one of the statutorily identified independent authorizers. Under Wisconsin law, pursuant to s. 118.40(3m), charter school authorizers must comply with the requirements below. Including adhering to the principles and standards for quality charter schools established by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). These principles and standards contain greater detail than the related statutory provisions. Under s. 118.40(3m), charter school authorizers must:
- Solicit and Evaluate Charter School Applications
- Consider NACSA Principles and Standards
- Give Contract Preference to Charters Serving Children at Risk
- Approve only high-quality charter school applications
- Monitor Performance and Compliance
- Submit Annual Report to State Superintendent and Legislature
The statutory provisions affecting authorizers do not specify requirements for soliciting and evaluating charter school applications. However, authorizers are required to adhere to the NACSA principles and standards for quality charter schools. These standards include requirements for a comprehensive application process and rigorous evaluation criteria.
All independent authorizers shall notify the state superintendent of their intention to establish a charter school by February 1 of the previous school year. Additionally, statutory limitations exist for some independent authorizers related to school location and pupil residency.
Prior to commencing operations under either a new or renewed charter school contract, all charter schools must submit a signed copy of their contract to the department.
When contracting for the establishment of a charter school, authorizers must consider the principles and standards for quality charter schools established by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
When awarding charter contracts for the operation of charter schools, authorizers must give preference in awarding contracts to charter schools that serve children at risk. "Children at risk" means pupils in grades 5 to 12 who are at risk of not graduating from high school because they are dropouts or are 2 or more of the following:
- One or more years behind their age group in the number of high school credits attained.
- Two or more years behind their age group in basic skill levels.
- Habitual truants, as defined in s. 118.16 (1) (a).
- Adjudicated delinquents.
- Eighth grade pupils whose score in each subject area on the examination administered under s. 118.30 (1m) (am) 1. or 118.301 (3) was below the basic level, 8th grade pupils who failed the examination administered under s. 118.30 (1m) (am) 2. or 118.301 (3), and 8th grade pupils who failed to be promoted to the 9th grade.
"Dropout" means a child who ceased to attend school, does not attend a public, private, or tribal school, technical college, or home-based private educational program on a full-time basis, has not graduated from high school, and does not have an acceptable excuse under s. 118.15 (1) (b) to (d) or (3).
High quality charter school applications must meet identified educational needs and promote a diversity of educational choices.
Awarded contracts must include various provisions which are explained in the department's charter school contract review benchmarks. In addition to including the contract requirements applicable to all charter school contracts, independent charter school contracts must include some additional requirements.
Additionally, authorizers must adhere to the NACSA principles and standards. These standards outline requirements for rigorous decision making when approving charter school applications.
For each school under contract with an authorizer, authorizers must monitor performance and compliance with s. 118.40 in accordance with the terms of each charter school contract. Additionally, authorizers must adhere to the NACSA principles and standards. These standards outline requirements for performance evaluation and compliance monitoring.
Annually, authorizers must submit, to the state superintendent and to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2), a report that includes all of the following:
1. An identification of each charter school operating under contract with the authorizer, each charter school that operated under a contract with the authorizer but had its contract nonrenewed or revoked or that closed, and each charter school under contract with the authorizer that has not yet begun to operate.
2. The academic and financial performance of each charter school operated under contract with the authorizer.
3. The operating costs the authorizer incurred while fulfilling its statutory duties, detailed in an audited financial statement prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
4. The services the authorizer provided to the charter schools under contract with the authorizer and an itemized accounting of the cost of the services.
Authorizers may choose to use the department's technical assistance and templates in order to comply with this requirement: