H. R. 2218
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 16, 2011
Mr. Hunter (for himself and Mr. Kline) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce
To amend the charter school program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
This Act may be cited as the
Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act.
Except as otherwise specifically provided, whenever in this Act a section or other provision is amended or repealed, such amendment or repeal shall be considered to be made to that section or other provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.).
Section 5201 (20 U.S.C. 7221) is amended to read as follows:
It is the purpose of this subpart to—
provide financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools;
expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to students across the Nation;
evaluate the impact of such schools on student achievement, families, and communities, and share best practices with other public schools;
encourage States to provide support to charter schools for facilities financing in an amount more nearly commensurate to the amount the States have typically provided for traditional public schools;
improve student services to increase opportunities for students with disabilities, English language learners, and other traditionally underserved students to attend charter schools and meet challenging State academic achievement standards; and
support efforts to strengthen the charter school authorizing process to improve performance management, including transparency, monitoring, and evaluation of such schools.
Section 5202 (20 U.S.C. 7221a) is amended to read as follows:
This subpart authorizes the Secretary to carry out a charter school program that supports charter schools that serve elementary school and secondary school students by—
supporting the startup, replication, and expansion of charter schools;
assisting charter schools in accessing credit to acquire and renovate facilities for school use; and
carrying out national activities to support charter school development, the dissemination of best practices of charter schools for all schools, and the evaluation of the impact of the program on schools participating in the program.
From the amount made available under section 5211 for a fiscal year, the Secretary shall—
reserve 15 percent to support charter school facilities assistance under section 5204;
reserve not more than 5 percent to carry out national activities under section 5205; and
use the remaining amount after the Secretary reserves funds under paragraphs (1) and (2) to carry out section 5203.
Prior grants and subgrants
The recipient of a grant or subgrant under this subpart, as such subpart was in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, shall continue to receive funds in accordance with the terms and conditions of such grant or subgrant.
Grants to support quality charter schools
Section 5203 (20 U.S.C. 7221b) is amended to read as follows:
Grants to support quality charter schools
From the amount reserved under section 5202(b)(3), the Secretary shall award grants to State entities having applications approved pursuant to subsection (e) to enable such entities to—
award subgrants to eligible applicants for—
new charter schools;
replicable, high-quality charter school models; and
the expansion of high-quality charter schools; and
provide technical assistance (which may be provided by awarding subgrants to other entities) to eligible applicants and authorized public chartering agencies in carrying out the activities described in paragraph (1) and work with authorized public chartering agencies in the State to improve the authorizing quality.
State uses of funds
A State entity receiving a grant under this section shall—
use 90 percent of the grant funds for activities to support quality charter schools described in the entity’s application approved pursuant to subsection (e) by carrying out a quality charter school program to award subgrants to eligible applicants for the purposes described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of subsection (a)(1); and
reserve 10 percent of such funds to carry out the activities described in subsection (a)(2), of which not more than 30 percent may be used for administrative costs (including the costs for providing the technical assistance described in subsection (a)(2)).
A State entity receiving a grant under this section may not use more than 30 percent of the funds reserved under paragraph (1)(B) for administrative costs, which may include providing the technical assistance described in subsection (a)(2).
Program periods; peer review; diversity of projects
A grant awarded by the Secretary to a State entity under this section shall be for a period of not more than 5 years.
A subgrant awarded by a State entity to an eligible applicant under this section shall be for a period of not more than 5 years, of which the eligible applicant may use not more than 18 months for planning and program design.
The Secretary, and each State entity receiving a grant under this section, shall use a peer review process to review applications for assistance under this section.
Diversity of Projects
Each State entity receiving a grant under this section, shall award subgrants under this section in a manner that, to the extent possible, ensures that such subgrants—
are distributed throughout different areas, including urban, suburban, and rural areas; and
will assist charter schools representing a variety of educational approaches.
A State entity may not receive more than 1 grant under this section for a 5-year period.
An eligible applicant may not receive more than 1 subgrant under this section per charter school for a 5-year period.
A State entity desiring to receive a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require. The application shall include the following:
Description of Program
A description of the entity’s objectives in running a quality charter school program under this section and how the objectives of such program will be carried out, including a description—
of how the entity—
will support both new charter school start up and the expansion and replication of high-quality charter school models;
will inform eligible charter schools, developers, and authorized public chartering agencies of the availability of funds under this program;
will work with eligible applicants to ensure that the applicants access all Federal funds that they are eligible to receive, and ensure charter schools and students attending charter schools will receive the commensurate share of Federal funds the schools and students are eligible to receive and participate;
will support efforts to increase quality initiatives for charter schools;
in the case in which the entity is not a State educational agency—
will work with the State educational agency and the charter schools in the State to maximize charter school participation in Federal and State programs for charter schools; and
will work with the State educational agency, where applicable, to adequately operate the subgrant program under this section;
will ensure eligible applicants that receive a subgrant under this section are prepared to continue to operate once the subgrant funds have expired;
will support charter schools in local educational agencies with large numbers of schools that must comply with the requirements of section 1116(b);
will work with charter schools to promote inclusion of all students, engage in additional recruitment efforts with respect to groups that might otherwise have limited opportunities to participate in the charter school’s program, and support students once they are admitted to the school to help avoid drop outs and transfers;
will ensure the charter schools they support can meet the educational needs of their students, including students with disabilities and English language learners; and
will meet the quality authorizing elements described in paragraph (2)(F);
of the extent to which the entity—
is able to meet and implement the priorities listed in subsection (f)(2); and
is working to develop or strengthen a cohesive statewide system to support the opening of new charter schools and high-quality replicable charter school models, and expanding high-quality charter schools; and
in the case of an entity that partners with an outside organization, of what responsibilities the organization will have in carrying out the quality charter school program under this section.
An assurance, including a description of how the assurance will be met, that—
each charter school receiving funds under the entity’s program will have a high degree of autonomy;
the entity will support charter schools so they will meet the educational needs of their students as described in paragraph (1)(A)(ix);
the entity will ensure that the authorized public chartering agency of any charter school that receives funds under the entity’s program—
ensures that the charter school can meet the obligations under this Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1974; and
adequately monitors and helps the schools meet the needs of students with disabilities and English language learners;
the entity will award subgrants to eligible applicants that provide such funds to charter schools that offer an evidence-based, quality academic experience;
the entity will provide adequate technical assistance to eligible applicants to—
meet the recruiting practices described in paragraph (1)(A)(viii);
meet the educational needs of their students, including through activities described in paragraph (1)(A)(ix); and
enroll students with disabilities, English language learners, and other traditionally underserved populations at a rate similar to traditional public schools in the area; and
the entity will award support quality authorizing that will help all authorized public chartering agencies in the State to adequately monitor their charter schools, including by—
using annual performance data to ensure their charter schools are successful;
assisting their charter schools to conduct annual financial audits, as required under State and Federal law; and
utilizing quality control measures.
Requests for waivers
A request and justification for waivers of any Federal statutory or regulatory provisions that the entity believes are necessary for the successful operation of the charter schools that will receive funds under the entity’s program under this section, and a description of any State or local rules, generally applicable to public schools, that will be waived, or otherwise not apply to such schools.
Selection criteria; priority
The Secretary shall award grants to State entities under this section on the basis of the quality of the applications submitted under subsection (e), after taking into consideration—
the degree of flexibility afforded by the State’s public charter school law and how the entity will work to maximize the flexibility provided to charter schools under the law;
the ambitiousness of the State entity’s objectives for the quality charter school program carried out under this section;
the quality of the strategy for assessing achievement of those objectives;
the likelihood that the eligible applicants receiving subgrants under the program will meet those objectives and improve educational results for students;
the number of new, expanded, or replicated charter schools proposed to be opened, and the number of high quality charter schools to be replicated or expanded under the program, by such eligible applicants;
the entity’s plan to adequately monitor its subgrantees and work with the authorized public chartering agencies to avoid duplication of work for the schools and authorized public chartering agencies;
the entity’s plan to provide adequate technical assistance, as described in the entity’s application under subsection (e), for the eligible applicants receiving subgrants under this section; and
the entity’s plan to support quality authorizing efforts in the State.
In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to State entities to the extent that they meet the following criteria:
In the case of a State that allows more than the State educational agency or a local educational agency to be an authorized public chartering agency, has a quality authorized public chartering agency other than the State educational agency.
The State entity does not impose any limitation on the number or percentage of charter schools that may exist or the number or percentage of students that may attend charter schools in the State.
The State entity ensures equitable financing, as compared to traditional public schools, for charter schools and students in a prompt manner.
The State entity supports full-, blended, or hybrid-online charter school models.
The State entity will work with the traditional public school system to include charter school operators in decisions about the public school system in the State.
The State entity uses charter schools to help turn around struggling schools and local educational agencies.
The State entity provides for or works with the State educational agency to provide an appeals process for charter schools who have been denied an application for a charter school.
The State entity partners with an organization that has a demonstrated record of success in developing management organizations to support the development of charter schools in the State.
Local uses of funds
An eligible applicant receiving a subgrant under this section shall use such funds to—
open new charter schools and high-quality charter school models that are replicable, or expand existing high-quality charter schools; and
support quality authorizing.
Each State entity receiving a grant under this section shall submit at the end of the third year of the 5-year grant period and at the end of such grant period a report to the Secretary on—
the number of students served and, if applicable how many new students were served during each year of the grant period;
the number of subgrants awarded under this section for—
new charter schools;
replicable charter schools; and
the expansion of charter schools;
the progress the entity made toward meeting the priorities described in subsection (f)(2), as applicable;
how the entity met the objectives described in the entity’s application under subsection (e);
how the entity complied with, and ensured that eligible applicants complied with, the assurances described in the application; and
how the entity worked with authorized public chartering agencies, including how the agencies worked with the management company or leadership of the schools in which the subgrants were awarded.
State entity defined
For purposes of this section, the term State entity means—
a State educational agency;
a State charter school board; or
a Governor of a State.
Facilities Financing Assistance
Section 5204 (20 U.S.C. 7221c) is amended to read as follows:
Facilities Financing Assistance
Grants to eligible entities
From the amount reserved under section 5202(b)(1), the Secretary shall award not less than 3 grants to eligible entities that have applications approved under subsection (d) to demonstrate innovative methods of assisting charter schools to address the cost of acquiring, constructing, and renovating facilities by enhancing the availability of loans or bond financing.
Eligible entity defined
For purposes of this section, the term eligible entity means—
a public entity, such as a State or local governmental entity;
a private nonprofit entity; or
a consortium of entities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).
Evaluation of application
The Secretary shall evaluate each application submitted under subsection (d), and shall determine whether the application is sufficient to merit approval.
Distribution of grants
The Secretary shall award at least one grant to an eligible entity described in subsection (a)(2)(A), at least one grant to an eligible entity described in subsection (a)(2)(B), and at least one grant to an eligible entity described in subsection (a)(2)(C), if applications are submitted that permit the Secretary to do so without approving an application that is not of sufficient quality to merit approval.
Grants under subsection (a) shall be of a sufficient size, scope, and quality so as to ensure an effective demonstration of an innovative means of enhancing credit for the financing of charter school acquisition, construction, or renovation.
To receive a grant under subsection (a), an eligible entity shall submit to the Secretary an application in such form as the Secretary may reasonably require.
An application submitted under paragraph (1) shall contain—
a statement identifying the activities proposed to be undertaken with funds received under subsection (a), including how the eligible entity will determine which charter schools will receive assistance, and how much and what types of assistance charter schools will receive;
a description of the involvement of charter schools in the application’s development and the design of the proposed activities;
a description of the eligible entity’s expertise in capital market financing;
a description of how the proposed activities will leverage the maximum amount of private-sector financing capital relative to the amount of government funding used and otherwise enhance credit available to charter schools, including how the entity will offer a combination of rates and terms more favorable than the rates and terms that a charter school could receive without assistance from the entity under this section;
a description of how the eligible entity possesses sufficient expertise in education to evaluate the likelihood of success of a charter school program for which facilities financing is sought; and
in the case of an application submitted by a State governmental entity, a description of the actions that the entity has taken, or will take, to ensure that charter schools within the State receive the funding the charter schools need to have adequate facilities.
Charter school objectives
An eligible entity receiving a grant under this section shall use the funds deposited in the reserve account established under subsection (f) to assist one or more charter schools to access private sector capital to accomplish one or both of the following objectives:
The acquisition (by purchase, lease, donation, or otherwise) of an interest (including an interest held by a third party for the benefit of a charter school) in improved or unimproved real property that is necessary to commence or continue the operation of a charter school.
The construction of new facilities, including predevelopment costs, or the renovation, repair, or alteration of existing facilities, necessary to commence or continue the operation of a charter school.
Use of funds
To assist charter schools to accomplish the objectives described in subsection (e), an eligible entity receiving a grant under this subsection (a) shall, in accordance with State and local law, directly or indirectly, alone or in collaboration with others, deposit the funds received under subsection (a) (other than funds used for administrative costs in accordance with subsection (g)) in a reserve account established and maintained by the eligible entity for this purpose. Amounts deposited in such account shall be used by the eligible entity for one or more of the following purposes:
Guaranteeing, insuring, and reinsuring bonds, notes, evidences of debt, loans, and interests therein, the proceeds of which are used for an objective described in subsection (e).
Guaranteeing and insuring leases of personal and real property for an objective described in subsection (e).
Facilitating financing by identifying potential lending sources, encouraging private lending, and other similar activities that directly promote lending to, or for the benefit of, charter schools.
Facilitating the issuance of bonds by charter schools, or by other public entities for the benefit of charter schools, by providing technical, administrative, and other appropriate assistance (including the recruitment of bond counsel, underwriters, and potential investors and the consolidation of multiple charter school projects within a single bond issue).
Funds received under this section and deposited in the reserve account established under paragraph (1) shall be invested in obligations issued or guaranteed by the United States or a State, or in other similarly low-risk securities.
Reinvestment of Earnings
Any earnings on funds received under subsection (a) shall be deposited in the reserve account established under paragraph (1) and used in accordance with such subsection.
Limitation on administrative costs
An eligible entity may use not more than 2.5 percent of the funds received under subsection (a) for the administrative costs of carrying out its responsibilities under this section (excluding subsection (k)).
Audits and reports
Financial Record Maintenance and Audit
The financial records of each eligible entity receiving a grant under subsection (a) shall be maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and shall be subject to an annual audit by an independent public accountant.
Grantee annual reports
Each eligible entity receiving a grant under subsection (a) annually shall submit to the Secretary a report of its operations and activities under this section.
Each annual report submitted under subparagraph (A) shall include—
a copy of the most recent financial statements, and any accompanying opinion on such statements, prepared by the independent public accountant reviewing the financial records of the eligible entity;
a copy of any report made on an audit of the financial records of the eligible entity that was conducted under paragraph (1) during the reporting period;
an evaluation by the eligible entity of the effectiveness of its use of the Federal funds provided under subsection (a) in leveraging private funds;
a listing and description of the charter schools served during the reporting period, including the amount of funds used by each school, the type of project facilitated by the grant, and the type of assistance provided to the charter schools;
a description of the activities carried out by the eligible entity to assist charter schools in meeting the objectives set forth in subsection (e); and
a description of the characteristics of lenders and other financial institutions participating in the activities undertaken by the eligible entity under this section (excluding subsection (k)) during the reporting period.
The Secretary shall review the reports submitted under subparagraph (A) and shall provide a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the activities conducted under this section (excluding subsection (k)).
No full faith and credit for grantee obligation
No financial obligation of an eligible entity entered into pursuant to this section (such as an obligation under a guarantee, bond, note, evidence of debt, or loan) shall be an obligation of, or guaranteed in any respect by, the United States. The full faith and credit of the United States is not pledged to the payment of funds which may be required to be paid under any obligation made by an eligible entity pursuant to any provision of this section.
Recovery of funds
The Secretary, in accordance with chapter 37 of title 31, United States Code, shall collect—
all of the funds in a reserve account established by an eligible entity under subsection (f)(1) if the Secretary determines, not earlier than 2 years after the date on which the eligible entity first received funds under this section excluding subsection (k), that the eligible entity has failed to make substantial progress in carrying out the purposes described in subsection (f)(1); or
all or a portion of the funds in a reserve account established by an eligible entity under subsection (f)(1) if the Secretary determines that the eligible entity has permanently ceased to use all or a portion of the funds in such account to accomplish any purpose described in subsection (f)(1).
Exercise of Authority
The Secretary shall not exercise the authority provided in paragraph (1) to collect from any eligible entity any funds that are being properly used to achieve one or more of the purposes described in subsection (f)(1).
The provisions of sections 451, 452, and 458 of the General Education Provisions Act shall apply to the recovery of funds under paragraph (1).
This subsection shall not be construed to impair or affect the authority of the Secretary to recover funds under part D of the General Education Provisions Act.
Per-Pupil facilities aid program
Definition of per-pupil facilities aid program.
In this subsection, the term per-pupil facilities aid program means a program in which a State makes payments, on a per-pupil basis, to charter schools to provide the schools with financing—
that is dedicated solely for funding charter school facilities; or
a portion of which is dedicated for funding charter school facilities.
From the amount reserved under section 5202(b)(1) remaining after the Secretary makes grants under subsection (a), the Secretary shall make grants, on a competitive basis, to States to pay for the Federal share of the cost of establishing or enhancing, and administering per-pupil facilities aid programs.
The Secretary shall award grants under this subsection for periods of not more than 5 years.
The Federal share of the cost described in subparagraph (A) for a per-pupil facilities aid program shall be not more than—
90 percent of the cost, for the first fiscal year for which the program receives assistance under this subsection;
80 percent in the second such year;
60 percent in the third such year;
40 percent in the fourth such year; and
20 percent in the fifth such year.
A State receiving a grant under this subsection may partner with 1 or more organizations to provide up to 50 percent of the State share of the cost of establishing or enhancing, and administering per-pupil facilities aid program.
A State may receive more than 1 grant under this subsection, so long as the amount of such funds provided to charter schools increases with each successive grant.
Use of funds
A State that receives a grant under this subsection shall use the funds made available through the grant to establish or enhance, and administer, a per-pupil facilities aid program for charter schools in the State of the applicant.
Evaluations; technical assistance; dissemination
From the amount made available to a State through a grant under this subsection for a fiscal year, the State may reserve not more than 5 percent to carry out evaluations, to provide technical assistance, and to disseminate information.
Supplement, not supplant.
Funds made available under this subsection shall be used to supplement, and not supplant, State, and local public funds expended to provide per pupil facilities aid programs, operations financing programs, or other programs, for charter schools.
No State may be required to participate in a program carried out under this subsection.
To be eligible to receive a grant under this subsection, a State shall establish or enhance, and administer, a per-pupil facilities aid program for charter schools in the State, that—
is specified in State law; and
provides annual financing, on a per-pupil basis, for charter school facilities.
A State that is required under State law to provide its charter schools with access to adequate facility space may be eligible to receive a grant under this subsection if the State agrees to use the funds to develop a per-pupil facilities aid program consistent with the requirements of this subsection.
To be eligible to receive a grant under this subsection, a State shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.
Section 5205 (20 U.S.C. 7221d) is amended to read as follows:
From the amount reserved under section 5202(b)(2), the Secretary shall—
use not less than 50 percent of such funds to award startup grants in accordance with subsection (b); and
use the remainder of such funds to—
disseminate technical assistance to State entities in awarding subgrants under section 5203;
disseminate best practices; and
evaluate the impact of the charter school program carried out under this subpart.
The Secretary shall make grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible applicants for the purpose of carrying out the activities described in section 5202(a)(1).
Eligible applicant defined
For purposes of this subsection, the term eligible applicant means an eligible applicant that desires to open a charter school in—
a State that did not apply for a grant under section 5203;
a State that did not receive a grant under section 5203; or
a State that received a grant under section 5203 and is in the 4th or 5th year of a grant period for such grant.
Contracts and grants
The Secretary may carry out any of the activities described in this section directly or through grants to, or contracts or cooperative agreements with, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and other public and private agencies.
Section 5208 (20 U.S.C. 7221g) is amended—
as quickly as possible and before
to the extent
section 602 and inserting
Section 5210 (20 U.S.C. 7221i) is amended—
in paragraph (1)—
and at the end of subparagraph (K);
by striking the
period at the end of subparagraph (L) and inserting
by adding at the end, the following:
may serve prekindergarten or post secondary students.
in paragraph (3),
under section 5203(d)(3); and
by inserting at the end the following:
Replicable charter school model
The term replicable charter school model means a high-quality charter school that will open a new campus under an existing charter.
Expansion of a high-quality charter school
The term expansion of a high-quality charter school means a high-quality charter school that either significantly increases its enrollment or adds one or more grades to its school.
High-quality charter school
The term high-quality charter school is a charter school that—
shows evidence of strong academic results;
has no significant issues in the areas of student safety, financial management, or statutory or regulatory compliance;
has demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement and attainment for all students, including educationally disadvantaged students described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II)(aa), served by charter schools; and
has demonstrated success in closing historic achievement gaps for the subgroups of students described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II).
Authorization of appropriations
Section 5211 (20 U.S.C. 7221j) is amended to read as follows:
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subpart $300,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 and each of the succeeding 5 fiscal years.
Subpart 2 of part B of title V (20 U.S.C. 7223 et seq.) is repealed.
Table of contents
The table of contents in section 2 is amended—
by striking the item relating to section 5203 and inserting:
Sec. 5203. Grants to support quality charter schools.
by striking the item relating to section 5204 and inserting:
Sec. 5204. Facilities Financing Assistance.