SB 208 FAQ: Charter schools and interscholastic activities
Where does this come from?
The 2017 Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 208, and Gov. Kate Brown signed it July 3, 2017. The Oregon Department of Education has released draft administrative rules (Draft Rules) to help implement SB 208. Public comment is open for the Draft Rules, and the State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Oct. 26, 2017. The Draft Rules have not been adopted and will almost certainly have changes made prior to adoption. THE DRAFT RULES ARE NOT CURRENTLY LAW AND ARE NOT BINDING UNTIL ADOPTED, but they do give an indication of what the final rules might look like.
Which activities does this apply to?
SB 208 allows charter school students to participate in “interscholastic activities” with the district. Interscholastic activities are defined as “athletics, music, speech and other similar or related activities.” The Draft Rules limit this to activities for which the school participates in Oregon School Activities Association-sanctioned activities. If a district offers band, but does not participate in OSAA-sanctioned band activities, band would not be considered an interscholastic activity under the most recent Draft Rules. Consequently, a charter school student could be denied participation in band.
What if the charter school offers some sports but not the same ones that the district offers?
SB 208 allows charter school students to participate in interscholastic activities in the school district when the charter school “does not provide interscholastic activities.” The Draft Rules specify if the charter school offers “any activities sanctioned by OSAA,” a student from that charter school does not have to be allowed to participate in interscholastic activities in the district. For example, if a charter school offers OSAA choir and cross country, the district in which a student at that charter school resides would not have to allow the student to play football. The district and charter school could agree to allow the student to play football, subject to OSAA rules.
What about activities that OSAA does not regulate, such as robotics teams, FFA and middle school sports?
Charter schools and districts are able to agree to allow student participation, just as they have in the past.
How much do charter schools have to pay for students who participate?
A district may charge a fee to a charter school that is “not more than 5 percent of the amount of the school district’s General Purpose Grant per ADMw, as calculated under ORS 327.013.” If the General Purpose Grant per ADMw for the district was $7,800, then the maximum amount that the charter would have to pay would be $390 (an additional fee may be charged for activities that require a course be taken for credit for activity participation). The district and charter school must enter into an agreement to establish the actual amount. The amount can be a flat dollar amount instead of a percentage. If the district has been allowing charter school students to participate in activities without charging the charter school, the district may consider setting this fee at zero dollars. We recommend that districts look at their financial data and see what it actually costs to provide these interscholastic activities and make the agreed upon amount reflect actual costs.
Is this per interscholastic activity?
No. The 5 percent maximum is per student, per year.
If we set the amount lower than the 5 percent maximum, can we charge for each activity?
As long as the total amount charged per student does not exceed the 5 percent maximum, that would be permissible. Any such arrangement should be included in the agreement between the district and charter school.
Can we charge different amounts for different activities?
Yes, as long as none of them exceed the 5 percent maximum. Any difference should be clearly articulated in the agreement, and the maximum charged for any individual student cannot exceed 5 percent (except in cases where a course for credit is required).
The General Purpose Grant per ADMw changes throughout the year. Which number should be used to determine the amount?
SB 208 isn’t clear on what to do as the number changes throughout the year. The Draft Rules indicate that fees should be based on ODE’s “most recent published State School Fund Estimates on or before August 31 of the year in which the student participates.” The most recent numbers from ODE are available here.
When should the fee be paid?
Neither SB 208 nor the Draft Rules specify a deadline for the fee to be paid. We would recommend that the fee be due within a reasonable time after a student has been admitted to the interscholastic activity. The agreement between the charter school and the district should address this.
Is there an additional fee for courses that require that a class be taken for credit?
Yes. When an activity requires that a course be taken for credit in the district, the district can charge an additional fee of up to 5 percent per activity (per Draft Rules). Suppose a charter school student participated in soccer, tennis and choir at the district school. For participation in choir, the student is required to enroll in the choir class. The maximum amount that the district would be able to charge the charter school for this student would be 10 percent, including a 5 percent activity fee and an additional 5 percent for choir.
If the student chose to participate in band as well, which also requires a course be taken for credit, the district would be able to charge an additional 5 percent for band, for a total of 15 percent. There are different opinions as to what the Legislature intended in this regard, so this will be an area of particular interest when the final rules are adopted.
Is this additional fee for required course and credit for each semester or trimester?
Per year. If a class is only taken for part of the year, the fee for course and credit may be reduced to reflect this. Any such arrangement should be included in the agreement.
Can I just split the student with the charter school, with both of us claiming part of the student for funding purposes? I’ll get 1/7 of the ADM, which is way more than 5 percent.
No. Oregon law requires that a student be listed on the active roll of the school “in which 50 percent or more of the student’s time is scheduled and the student shall not be entered in the roll of other instructional units.” OAR 581-023-0006(4)(a). Charters and districts can enter into agreements to provide services for students, but in the case of courses required by interscholastic activities, the maximum fee allowed is 5 percent. These agreements are between the district and the charter school and do not involve the state.
If the district has the student enrolled in a class, but the student is included on the charter school’s active roll, how do we put them into our computer system?
This can be tricky, particularly in situations where the two schools use different programs. Look for options such as “concurrent” or “Exclude from state reporting.” These options are going to depend on the programs that you use, but programs may allow both schools to enroll students into classes and perhaps even review grades and attendance. Regardless of the systems used, both the charter and the district must keep accurate and current attendance and grade records for all students in attendance.
What if the district school’s bell schedule does not match up with the charter school’s?
This can certainly create challenges, as schools use a variety of schedules for a number of reasons.
Schools should work with students to make activities available when possible. There will be times when a student is forced to choose between a course for an interscholastic activity with the district and another course at the charter school. Schools have never been able to accommodate every scheduling request from every student.
Who is responsible for transportation to and from the activities?
Neither SB 208 nor the Draft Rules mention transportation. OSBA believes that neither the charter nor the district is legally required to provide transportation between the charter school and the district activity, although either could choose to.
If students attend a charter school in a district other than the one in which they reside, what district can they participate in?
A student must reside within the school district in order to be eligible to participate in the district’s activities (the Draft Rules use the definition for resident found in ORS 339.133). Additionally, for districts with multiple high schools, a student must reside within the individual high school’s attendance area in order to participate at the specific high school.
There are students attending our charter schools from several districts, do we have to enter into a separate agreement with each district?
Yes, a charter school would have to enter into an agreement with each district that it has a student from. Each district may have a different General Purpose Grant per ADMw, so the maximum amount for fees from each district may be slightly different.
If a district has students attending charter schools in multiple districts, does the district have to enter into an agreement with each individual charter school?
Yes. A district will have to enter into an agreement with each charter school that students from the district attend.
Can a district agree to different amounts with different charter schools?
Yes. Just like a district may contract for different payment amounts in charter agreements, it can agree to different activity fees for different charter schools. We recommend that the fees represent actual costs and that any difference in fees reflect those costs.
We have a strict code of conduct for our activity participants, including attendance and GPA standards. Are charter school students who participate subject to these same requirements?
Yes. SB 208 provides that “a student must meet all school eligibility requirements except the school district’s school or class attendance requirements.”
We are a pay-to-play district. Students are charged $50, for example, for some activities, including sports. Can we charge charter school students the same amount?
Yes. Charter school students can be charged the same participation fees as district students as part of the eligibility requirements. The district should have procedures in place for waiver of the fee for students who cannot afford it. The same procedures would be available to charter school students.
Who should sign an agreement on behalf of the district and charter? Does it need to be board adopted?
There is no mention of who must act on behalf of the district or charter school, simply a requirement that “the school district and the public charter school shall enter into an agreement.” The superintendent of the school district and chief executive officer of the charter school may be able to enter into this agreement on behalf of their entities, but school districts and charter schools should check their policies, contracts and budget language.
When does this go into effect?
July 3, 2017. It is currently in effect. If you have charter school students seeking to participate in fall interscholastic activities, you should accommodate those requests.