- The Florida Board of Education has approved the creation of a state Charter School Review Commission to oversee charter school application approvals, acting as an alternative route for prospective charter school operators.
- The Commission, consisting of seven members, will review and potentially approve applications, after which the sponsorship will be transferred to the local school district where the charter school aims to operate.
- The new system aims to streamline the application process, providing standardized application forms, defined review timelines, and clearer communication methods, thus making it easier for charter operators, both local and national, to expand within Florida without needing to approach multiple individual sponsors.
The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday approved the establishment of a state Charter School Review Commission. This authorization was made in accordance with the 2022 Florida Legislature’s directive to introduce a mechanism for charter school application approvals.
The Commission, a seven-member body, is designed as an alternate channel for prospective charter school operators to seek approval for their applications. According to the BoE, the group will serve to streamline the application process for schools, allowing charter schools to commence operations more promptly.
Per a presentation given during Wednesday’s Board meeting, the proposed protocol indicates that once a charter school application secures the Commission’s approval, the sponsorship duty will transition to the respective local school district in which the charter school plans to operate.
“This is a commission that is going to have the same powers and duties that a charter school sponsor would have when it comes to the review, the approval, or denial of an application,” said Adam Emerson, School Choice Director at Florida Department of Education. “If they approve an application, it then gets turned over to whichever school district the school is going to be located in for sponsorship and for the initial negotiation of the charter contract.”
The Commission’s establishment is anticipated to alleviate some workload pressures from individual school districts through the consolidation of the charter review process.
Among the operational guidelines issued for the Commission are defined timelines for each stage of the application review, the introduction of standardized forms to ensure consistency in application and feedback processes, and explicit communication procedures involving the Commission, charter school applicants, and the school districts.
“As Florida has a lot of homegrown charter operators, we have attracted national operators to come into the state,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz. “One of the things we have always had a low rating on … was the ability to have statewide access. If you have a successful operator that Florida is trying to bring into the state, under the old system, that operator would literally have to go possibly to 67 different sponsors to apply. What this will do is allow the Commission to take applications from multiple counties and reduce the burden to get these applications reviewed and approved.”