State Senator Keith King (R-Colorado Springs) introduced SB 111, Charter School Institute legislation. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Massey (R-Poncho Springs) in the House. In addition to containing several clean-up items, the bill asks the CSI to study the feasibility of each of its schools becoming their own Local Education Agency (LEA). LEA is a federal legal term that is primarily given to school districts. However, in some states, charter schools are their own LEAs.
There are numerous pros and cons to charter schools being their own LEA. Most significantly is the distinction of having complete responsibility for Special Education services. Many charter schools like providing their own Special Education services, but in a "worst case scenario" where serving a student with special needs could bankrupt a small charter school there is also a great deal of risk.
SB 111 also creates a new fund for CSI to keep revenue generated via their being a School Food Authority. Last year the General Assembly allowed up to three charter schools to serve as a School Food Authority, or a federally-recognized hot lunch program. While CSI operates as a school district in many regards, their statutorily-defined designation is that of a state agency. This means they're subject to rules that are more applicable to large state agencies and cannot carry over SFA funds without special approval from the legislature.
The bill also asks for an extension to the number of days CSI has to consider new charter school applications. Currently CSI has 60 days while school districts have always had 75 days. SB 111 proposes CSI be given 75 days to consider new charter school applications, also.
SB 111 also contains a provision to allow CSI schools to join a Board of Cooperative Education Services, or BOCES. This mechanism is currently used by small school districts in order to provide Special Education services.
Finally, the bill proposes opening up the restrictions currently on the state reserve fund that right now is for charter school capital construction to also include the use of funds for extraordinary Special Education services.