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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING ARTICLE 12 TO CHAPTER 21, TITLE 59 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE PUBLIC CHOICE INNOVATION GRANTS PROGRAM, TO PROVIDE FOR THE ENTITIES THAT MAY PARTNER TO FORM AN INNOVATION SCHOOL, TO PROVIDE FOR GRANT APPLICATION, STUDENT ENROLLMENT, AND ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, TO PROVIDE FOR THE AMOUNT OF FUNDS ALLOCATED TO AN INNOVATION SCHOOL IN A GIVEN YEAR OF THE GRANT, AND TO PROVIDE FOR TESTING, EVALUATION, AND REPORTING PROCEDURES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 21, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-21-1410. (A) There is established the Public Choice Innovation Grants Program. The purpose of the program is to support the creation and evaluation of public choice innovation schools in South Carolina. Public choice innovation schools are public choice alternatives for students in grades four through eight who are enrolled in public schools rated unsatisfactory or below average, or students enrolled in public schools rated average or above average who scored basic or below basic on any two or more subject area grade level PACT assessments in grades three through seven during the most recent school year. The goal of the program is to yield strong student academic achievement by demonstrating leadership in instructional, administrative, or personnel practices. The State Board of Education shall administer the Public Choice Innovation Grants Program and must adopt criteria and procedures to ensure that the goal of the program is realized.
(B) Entities eligible to receive the grant include a partnership of any two of the following entities: a public school district, an educational management organization, a private corporation, a public or private institution of higher education, a consortium of public school districts, or other public or private entities. Should the partnership not include a local school district, the partnership may contract with a local school district or statewide charter school district to serve as the innovation school's fiscal agent, or it may develop an agreement with the State Department of Education for an alternative fiscal agent.
(C) To apply for a grant, the partnership must demonstrate at least one of the following strategies to improve leadership and academic achievement:
(1) modifying teacher compensation to address geographic or certification barriers and offering performance incentives;
(2) utilizing novel leadership and administrative policies and procedures, to include preparation and certification of administrators, operational procedures, and costs shared with other entities;
(3) initiating continuous progress of students among grades four through eight; or
(4) developing novel or nontraditional uses of time, space, and technology in the instructional delivery of state academic content standards.
(D) A school that receives a public choice innovation grant must receive grant funds for a minimum of five years upon annual certification of positive implementation by the State Department of Education. Funds administered during the first year are to be used for planning and start-up purposes, with the remaining years of funding to be used for the operation of the innovation school. A recipient innovation school shall receive one hundred thousand dollars during the first year in which the school receives the grant and also is eligible to receive additional grant funds for the purpose of obtaining equipment, supplies, textbooks, instructional materials, and facilities lease, renovation, or modification in an amount not to exceed four hundred thousand dollars per partnership. During the second year of the grant, a recipient innovation school shall receive an amount not to exceed three hundred thousand dollars for the operation of the school in supplement of the per pupil revenues from federal, state, and local sources. During the third through fifth years of the grant, a recipient innovation school shall receive funds in an amount not to exceed eighty percent of the previous year's grant allocation. During the sixth year of the grant and following, a recipient innovation school shall receive a minimum supplement of one hundred thousand dollars. Funding for a recipient innovation school is dependent upon state per pupil allocations, supplementary allocations equal to local spending levels in the sending school, transportation allowance equivalent to the state per pupil transportation expenditure, and federal funds as applicable to the student population.
Section 59-21-1420. (A) Priority admission to a public choice innovation school is granted to a student who:
(1) is enrolled in grades four through eight and is assigned to a school rated below average or unsatisfactory; or
(2) is enrolled in a school with an absolute rating of average or above average who scored basic or below basic on any two or more subject area grade level PACT assessments in grades three through seven during the most recent school year.
(B) A student who is eligible to attend an innovation school is not required to attend the school. A student may apply to attend a public choice innovation school within or outside his district of residence. An innovation school may recruit and accept students living outside the attendance zone and district in which the school is located. As long as no eligible student is denied admission, an innovation school may accept other students as their parents choose to enroll them and receive funds pursuant to Section 59-21-1410(D). Once a student is enrolled in an innovation school, the student is guaranteed enrollment in the appropriate grade so long as the school remains in operation, unless the student violates behavioral expectations, or the parents choose to transfer the student to another school for which the student is eligible. A public choice innovation school may not discriminate against any student on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, or prior academic performance.
Section 59-21-1430. (A) A public choice innovation school is required to participate in the statewide testing program, and, if a local school district is a partner, its scores must be reported in the annual district ratings. An innovation school must not receive ratings pursuant to the Education Accountability Act until the third year of operation, at which time the initial Education Accountability Act rating shall address student performance. An innovation school is not eligible to receive state technical assistance funds pursuant to the Education Accountability Act.
(B) A public choice innovation school must report its progress to the State Department of Education by June first of each year, providing data as the State Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee deem necessary.
(C) An independent longitudinal evaluation of a public choice innovation school must be conducted or contracted by the Education Oversight Committee and must include a value-added component so that valid comparisons can be made to student performance in traditional public schools and public charter schools. Of the funds provided pursuant to this section, one hundred and fifty thousand dollars must be allocated to the Education Oversight Committee for the evaluation, which must be published initially in January 2011, and triennially thereafter. Should a public choice innovation school receive an absolute rating of unsatisfactory or below average, the school must close at the end of the school year in which the rating is published.
Section 59-21-1440. Beginning with grants awarded for schools first opening during the 2009-2010 school year, public choice innovation schools must be newly organized with a separate school identification code. However, an innovation school may operate on a campus of an existing school and share facilities with that school including, but not limited to, library media centers, cafeterias, health and physical education space, or other common resources. Adjustments to programs must be made in accordance with regulations relating to innovative schools promulgated by the State Board of Education.
Section 59-21-1450. The State Department of Education is authorized to retain up to five percent of program appropriations for administrative and technical support. Should there be a midyear revenue shortfall to the State, the State Department of Education is urged to reduce agency administrative costs related to this program rather than reduce funding to a public choice innovation school."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 2:26 P.M.