Home Youth empowerment New Iowa charter schools could arrive as early as August 2022

New Iowa charter schools could arrive as early as August 2022

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A timeline for starting new charter schools in Iowa under a new legal route emerged from the State Board of Education on Thursday.

The board has yet to seek public comment, but rules for charter schools that are expected to be set in time for the next school year could be finalized as early as January.

If that deadline is met, requests for approval will have to be received by February, the Iowa Department of Education general counsel told the state council on Thursday.

There are currently two licensed charter schools in Iowa – both high schools – in Storm Lake and Maynard.

Previously, charter schools could only be established after receiving approval from their local school boards. A bill passed this year by state lawmakers and enacted by Gov. Kim Reynolds, however, allows a founding group – such as a private citizens’ group or a university – to speak directly to the state council. for approval.

Thomas Mayes, general counsel for the Iowa Department of Education, told the board on Thursday that for the 2022-2023 school year, the application process was still under development for a charter school seeking to use the new approach.

Mayes said once the rules are finalized – and no earlier than January – applications should be received by February, which would give the State Council enough time to review and approve them before meeting the deadline. March 1 deadline for financing conditions. to meet.

According to the State Board of Education's schedule, new charter schools could arrive in Iowa as early as August 2022.

Mayes acknowledged that it would be a tight schedule, but added that the department wanted to do what it could to allow those who wish to have a charter school ready for the next school year to be able to move forward with the process as soon as possible. .

For subsequent school years, he said the deadline to apply would be August 1.

Following:Governor Kim Reynolds signs charter school expansion into law. Here’s what that means for education in Iowa.

The State Council kicked off the rule-making process on Thursday by voting to notify the public of its intention to adopt the new rules.

Public comments on the proposal can be submitted by mail until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26. Comments should be directed to Thomas A. Mayes, General Counsel and Business Rules Coordinator, Grimes State Office Building, Second Floor; 400 E. 14th Street; Des Moines, IA 50319-0416.

Mayes said comments received before that deadline would be presented to the board at its November meeting – when the board could adopt the new rules, kicking off the schedule for finalizing the rules in January. .

Alternatively, a public hearing at which people can express themselves or submit their comments in writing is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26 in the State Council Chamber of the State Office Building. Grimes in downtown Des Moines. A remote videoconferencing link will also be available via Zoom.

A document attached to the agenda item on the topic of Thursday’s meeting noted that 61 people had submitted responses to the ministry via a public poll.

“Some of the responses questioned the political decision to allow charter schools or the flexibility that recent legislation gives charter schools. These comments, while forcefully made, do not deserve any further comment. These political decisions have already been made. taken “, according to the document. .

At least two groups in the state are interested in establishing charter schools next year, Mayes told the board.

He did not name these groups, but Cynthia Knight, founder and CEO of Jordahl Academy, and Will Holmes, a Des Moines-based rapper / singer known as Will Keeps who is chair of the youth empowerment program. Starts Right Here, have already expressed interest.

Following:“Huge amount of work”: It may take some time to see new charter schools, despite recent Iowa law

Mayes added Thursday that while charter schools could ask to be exempted from certain rules – not rules like isolation and restraint, or fire safety – the founders of the schools should specify in their requests which rules they want to be exempt. Otherwise, the school should follow all rules not listed.

When asked whether schools should justify why they would want to be exempted from certain rules, Mayes said: “The whole demand should justify why the charter is innovative.”

He said the ministry would be required to provide technical assistance on what rules could be lifted and what the consequences would be.

He said charter schools should be free to Iowa residents, would still be subject to Iowa assessments, and charters established through the new founding method should be nonprofit and non-sectarian.

However, charters established under the new path would not be seen as political subdivisions, he said.

He added that part of a charter school’s application must include planned enrollment. For schools wishing to open as early as August 2022, he hoped that announcements requesting enrollment would be honest that any enrollment is dependent on approval by the school’s state board.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including the Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be contacted by email at [email protected] He’s on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.