15-185. Charter schools; financing; civil penalties; transportation; definition

A. A school district is not financially responsible for any charter school that is sponsored by the state board of education, the state board for charter schools, a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents, a community college district or a group of community college districts.

B. Financial provisions for a charter school that is sponsored by the state board of education, the state board for charter schools, a university, a community college district or a group of community college districts are as follows:

1. The charter school shall calculate a base support level as prescribed in section 15-943, except that:

(a) Section 15-941 does not apply to these charter schools.

(b) The small school weights prescribed in section 15-943, paragraph 1 apply if a charter holder holds one charter for one or more school sites and the average daily membership for the school sites are combined for the calculation of the small school weight. The small school weight shall not be applied individually to a charter holder if one or more of the following conditions exist and the combined average daily membership derived from the following conditions is greater than six hundred:

(i) The organizational structure or management agreement of the charter holder requires the charter holder or charter school to contract with a specific management company.

(ii) The governing body of the charter holder has identical membership to another charter holder in this state.

(iii) The charter holder is a subsidiary of a corporation that has other subsidiaries that are charter holders in this state.

(iv) The charter holder holds more than one charter in this state.

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of this paragraph, for fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 the department of education shall reduce by thirty-three percent the amount provided by the small school weight for charter schools prescribed in subdivision (b) of this paragraph.

2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1 of this subsection, the student count shall be determined initially using an estimated student count based on actual registration of pupils before the beginning of the school year. Notwithstanding section 15-1042, subsection F, student level data submitted to the department may be used to determine estimated student counts.  After the first forty days, one hundred days or two hundred days in session, as applicable, the charter school shall revise the student count to be equal to the actual average daily membership, as defined in section 15-901, of the charter school. Before the fortieth day, one hundredth day or two hundredth day in session, as applicable, the state board of education, the state board for charter schools, the sponsoring university, the sponsoring community college district or the sponsoring group of community college districts may require a charter school to report periodically regarding pupil enrollment and attendance, and the department of education may revise its computation of equalization assistance based on the report. A charter school shall revise its student count, base support level and charter additional assistance before May 15.  A charter school that overestimated its student count shall revise its budget before May 15.  A charter school that underestimated its student count may revise its budget before May 15.

3. A charter school may use section 15-855 for the purposes of this section. The charter school and the department of education shall prescribe procedures for determining average daily membership.

4. Equalization assistance for the charter school shall be determined by adding the amount of the base support level and charter additional assistance. The amount of the charter additional assistance is $1,843.14 per student count in preschool programs for children with disabilities, kindergarten programs and grades one through eight and $2,148.15 per student count in grades nine through twelve.

5. The state board of education shall apportion state aid from the appropriations made for such purposes to the state treasurer for disbursement to the charter schools in each county in an amount as determined by this paragraph. The apportionments shall be made as prescribed in section 15-973, subsection B.

6. The charter school shall not charge tuition for pupils who reside in this state, levy taxes or issue bonds. A charter school may admit pupils who are not residents of this state and shall charge tuition for those pupils in the same manner prescribed in section 15-823.

7. Not later than noon on the day preceding each apportionment date established by paragraph 5 of this subsection, the superintendent of public instruction shall furnish to the state treasurer an abstract of the apportionment and shall certify the apportionment to the department of administration, which shall draw its warrant in favor of the charter schools for the amount apportioned.

C. If a pupil is enrolled in both a charter school and a public school that is not a charter school, the sum of the daily membership, which includes enrollment as prescribed in section 15-901, subsection A, paragraph 1, subdivisions (a) and (b) and daily attendance as prescribed in section 15-901, subsection A, paragraph 5, for that pupil in the school district and the charter school shall not exceed 1.0. If a pupil is enrolled in both a charter school and a public school that is not a charter school, the department of education shall direct the average daily membership to the school with the most recent enrollment date. On validation of actual enrollment in both a charter school and a public school that is not a charter school and if the sum of the daily membership or daily attendance for that pupil is greater than 1.0, the sum shall be reduced to 1.0 and shall be apportioned between the public school and the charter school based on the percentage of total time that the pupil is enrolled or in attendance in the public school and the charter school.  The uniform system of financial records shall include guidelines to apportion the pupil enrollment and attendance as provided in this section.

D. Charter schools are allowed to accept grants and gifts to supplement their state funding, but it is not the intent of the charter school law to require taxpayers to pay twice to educate the same pupils.  The base support level for a charter school or for a school district sponsoring a charter school shall be reduced by an amount equal to the total amount of monies received by a charter school from a federal or state agency if the federal or state monies are intended for the basic maintenance and operations of the school. The superintendent of public instruction shall estimate the amount of the reduction for the budget year and shall revise the reduction to reflect the actual amount before May 15 of the current year. If the reduction results in a negative amount, the negative amount shall be used in computing all budget limits and equalization assistance, except that:

1. Equalization assistance shall not be less than zero.

2. For a charter school sponsored by the state board of education, the state board for charter schools, a university, a community college district or a group of community college districts, the total of the base support level and the charter additional assistance shall not be less than zero.

E. If a charter school was a district public school in the prior year and sponsored by the state board of education, the state board for charter schools, a university, a community college district or a group of community college districts, the reduction in subsection D of this section applies. The reduction to the base support level of the charter school shall equal the sum of the base support level and the charter additional assistance received in the current year for those pupils who were enrolled in the traditional public school in the prior year and are now enrolled in the charter school in the current year.

F. Equalization assistance for charter schools shall be provided as a single amount based on average daily membership without categorical distinctions between maintenance and operations or capital.

G. At the request of a charter school, the county school superintendent of the county where the charter school is located may provide the same educational services to the charter school as prescribed in section 15-308, subsection A. The county school superintendent may charge a fee to recover costs for providing educational services to charter schools.

H. If the sponsor of the charter school determines at a public meeting that the charter school is not in compliance with federal law, with the laws of this state or with its charter, the sponsor of a charter school may submit a request to the department of education to withhold up to ten percent of the monthly apportionment of state aid that would otherwise be due the charter school. The department shall adjust the charter school's apportionment accordingly.  The sponsor shall provide written notice to the charter school at least seventy-two hours before the meeting and shall allow the charter school to respond to the allegations of noncompliance at the meeting before the sponsor makes a final determination to notify the department of education of noncompliance. The charter school shall submit a corrective action plan to the sponsor on a date specified by the sponsor at the meeting. The corrective action plan shall be designed to correct deficiencies at the charter school and to ensure that the charter school promptly returns to compliance.  When the sponsor determines that the charter school is in compliance, the department shall restore the full amount of state aid payments to the charter school.

I. In addition to the withholding of state aid payments pursuant to subsection H of this section, the sponsor of a charter school may impose a civil penalty of $1,000 per occurrence if a charter school fails to comply with the fingerprinting requirements prescribed in section 15-183, subsection C or section 15-512. The sponsor of a charter school shall not impose a civil penalty if it is the first time the charter school is out of compliance with the fingerprinting requirements and if the charter school provides proof within forty-eight hours of written notification that an application for the appropriate fingerprint check has been received by the department of public safety. The sponsor of the charter school shall obtain proof that the charter school has been notified, and the notification shall identify the date of the deadline and shall be signed by both parties. The sponsor of a charter school shall automatically impose a civil penalty of $1,000 per occurrence if the sponsor determines that the charter school subsequently violates the fingerprinting requirements. Civil penalties pursuant to this subsection shall be assessed by requesting the department of education to reduce the amount of state aid that the charter school would otherwise receive by an amount equal to the civil penalty. The amount of state aid withheld shall revert to the state general fund at the end of the fiscal year.

J. A charter school may receive and spend monies distributed by the department of education pursuant to section 42-5029, subsection E, section 42-5029.02, subsection A and section 37-521, subsection B.

K. If a school district transports or contracts to transport pupils to the Arizona state schools for the deaf and the blind during any fiscal year, the school district may transport or contract with a charter school to transport sensory impaired pupils during that same fiscal year to a charter school if requested by the parent of the pupil and if the distance from the pupil's place of actual residence within the school district to the charter school is less than the distance from the pupil's place of actual residence within the school district to the campus of the Arizona state schools for the deaf and the blind.

L. Notwithstanding any other law, a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents, a community college district or a group of community college districts shall not include any student in the student count of the university, community college district or group of community college districts for state funding purposes if that student is enrolled in and attending a charter school sponsored by the university, community college district or group of community college districts.

M. The governing body of a charter school shall transmit a copy of its proposed budget or the summary of the proposed budget and a notice of the public hearing to the department of education for posting on the department of education's website not later than ten days before the hearing and meeting. If the charter school maintains a website, the charter school governing body shall post on its website a copy of its proposed budget or the summary of the proposed budget and a notice of the public hearing.

N. The governing body of a charter school shall collaborate with the private organization that is approved by the state board of education pursuant to section 15-792.02 to provide approved board examination systems for the charter school.

O. If permitted by federal law, a charter school may opt out of federal grant opportunities if the charter holder or the appropriate governing body of the charter school determines that the federal requirements impose unduly burdensome reporting requirements.

P. For the purposes of this section, "monies intended for the basic maintenance and operations of the school" means monies intended to provide support for the educational program of the school, except that it does not include supplemental assistance for a specific purpose or title VIII of the elementary and secondary education act of 1965 monies. The auditor general shall determine which federal or state monies meet this definition.