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Charter Schools

Charter Schools

Charter School Oversight

Hillsborough County Public Schools is the Sponsor of charter schools operating in the school district. The district’s Charter Schools Office (CSO) is responsible for oversight of the schools to ensure all applicable charter school laws and contractual agreements are followed.

This page provides information on the various methods of charter school oversight in Hillsborough County.

  • Current year applications received in the Charter Schools Office are located under Application Review.
  • Current year new school contracts approved by the Hillsborough County School Board are located under New Schools.
  • Current year contract renewals approved by the Hillsborough School Board are located under Contract Renewal.
Authorizing Oversight Practices graphic

Application Review and Approval:

  • Applications are received annually in the Charter Schools Office according to the Application Instructions.
  • Applications are reviewed by the District’s Application Review Team, a team comprised of trained staff from a variety of district departments. The Team utilizes the Florida Charter School Application Evaluation Instrument to review applications.
  • After a capacity interview is held with the applicant, the Team makes a recommendation to the Superintendent regarding approval or denial of the charter school application.
  • The Hillsborough County School Board votes to approve or deny a charter school application. A charter school application that does not meet the statutory requirements of Florida Statues 1002.33(6)(a) shall be denied.
  • Should the application be denied, the applicant has the right to appeal to the Florida Charter School Appeals Commission in accordance with Florida Statute 1002.33(6)(c).

2019-2020 Charter School Applications Received:

2018-2019 Charter School Applications Approved by School Board:

New Operator Support: New schools that are scheduled to open in the upcoming school year, participate in two distinct trainings:

  • The Florida Department of Education’s Approved Applicant Training is a statutorily required training held by the Florida Department of Education and must be attended by representatives from the charter school prior to opening.
  • Hillsborough County’s New Operator Meeting is held annually in June. Each participant receives specific information from district departmental staff who provide guidance regarding requirements on how to operate a charter school successfully in Hillsborough County. The charter school operators are informed of all necessary procedures, supports and requirements for successful collaboration with the District. Attendance at this meeting is required. Any principal that began in a charter school after the start of the year is also invited to attend.

Facility Preparedness: The Charter Schools Office conducts an initial visit to view property or existing buildings requiring renovation. A facility timeline for completion is established and ongoing completion requirements communicated and monitored through the New Building Checklist Template. Prior to a new or renovated building being utilized by the school all requirements on the checklist must be met.

Pre-opening Monitoring: Schools who are opening for the first time receive a pre-opening site visit to ensure academic and operational functions are in place for the start of the school year. The new schools receive a secondary visit within the first month of school to follow-up on any items still pending on the Pre-opening Checklist.

2019-2020 New School Contracts:

Compliance Reporting: Compliance reporting is processed through an online platform called Charters.Link. In Charters.Link each school is assigned submission deadlines for reporting documents due to the district and/or state. Within the Charters.Link system all submission descriptions, requirements and deadlines are provided and tracked to assist the school and the Charter Schools Office in ensuring compliance reporting is kept up-to-date and in compliance with district and state requirements. Due dates for compliance reporting are provided annually to school leaders, and in an ongoing manner within the Charters.Link platform.

Fiscal Oversight: Schools are required to submit unaudited monthly or quarterly (high-performing schools) financial reports for district review. The review of financial reports includes monitoring the total fund balance, revenues and expenditures, and any excess or deficiency found in the reports. Should it be determined from the unaudited financial reports that there is a deteriorating financial condition at the school; appropriate proceedings identified in F.S. 1002.34 will be followed.

Schools are also required to submit an annual financial audit within 90 days of the fiscal year end of June 30. The audit must be conducted by an independent certified public accountant or auditor. At the conclusion of the audit, the audit is discussed with the charter school board, and a copy of the audit is delivered to the school district as well as, the state’s Auditor General. Should the review of the annual audit result in a deteriorating financial condition or a financial emergency the charter school must comply with the development of a corrective action plan or financial recovery plan.

If a charter school fails to provide an audit, the school will be subject to expedited review by the sponsor and may be required to develop a corrective action plan.

Current and previous year charter school audited financials are available through Accounting Services.

Site Visits: All schools receive a minimum of one formal site visit a year. A site visit to a school includes a meeting with the principal to review relevant data, compliance ratings and any additional information provided by Charter Schools Office support staff. A defined onsite review, as well as, school/classroom walkthroughs to observe the school environment occur. Any areas found out of compliance are documented and the school is notified in writing.

Florida Statute 1002.33(7)19(b)1 states, “A charter may be renewed provided that a program review demonstrates that the criteria in paragraph (a) have been successfully accomplished and that none of the grounds for nonrenewal established by paragraph (8)(a) has been documented.”

The Charter School Contract Renewal Site Visit is part of a formal process followed by the Hillsborough County Charter Schools Office to thoroughly and systematically review the charter school seeking renewal.

  • The site visit covers review of the educational program practices, organizational practices and business practices evident at the school site and relevant to Charter School Law and the contract between the Hillsborough County School Board (HCSB) and the Charter School Board.
  • The Review Team comprised of Charter Schools Office staff, District employees from Human Resources, Curriculum/Instruction, Assessment, Business/Finance, and Federal Programs participate in the site visit process.
  • In order to effectively and systematically review charter schools the Contract Renewal Site Visit Review Template is utilized with each school.
  • Once the review is complete, a final report is produced for the Hillsborough County School Board. The School Board reviews performance and recommendations for improvement and then makes a determination regarding the Superintendent’s recommendation to renew or non-renew the contract.

2018-2019 Contract Renewals:

F.S. 1002.33(8) defines clear causes for nonrenewal or the termination of a charter school. In general, a charter school may be closed for the following reasons:

Academic Accountability: A school’s failure to participate in the state’s education accountability system or failure to meet the requirements for student performance are grounds for nonrenewal or termination of the charter. Should a charter school receive two consecutive school grades of “F”; the school will be closed.

Fiscal Mismanagement: A school’s failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, including failure to correct deficiencies noted in a financial corrective action plan within 1 year after being notified may result in closure. A school exhibiting one or more financial emergency conditions for 2 consecutive years may also be closed.

Student Health & Safety: A charter may be terminated immediately if facts and circumstances indicate that an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the school’s students exists.

Voluntary Closure: The governing board of directors of a charter school may also elect to voluntarily close the school. The decision to cease operations must be determined at a public meeting and the governing board must notify the district, parents of enrolled students and the state. The contract must then be terminated by the district school board.

As charter schools are public schools, all materials and property purchased with public funds are reverted to the district to distribute to other public schools irregardless of the type of school closure.

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