Categorized | Education

Performance contracts strengthen charter school accountability


Monday, July 1, 2013, marked an important milestone for Hawaii’s public charter school movement when all 32 charter schools and the State Public Charter School Commission, the statewide charter school authorizer, completed the execution of the first charter school performance contracts in the state’s history.

“The performance contract establishes expectations for the academic, financial, and organizational performance of charter schools in order to ensure good outcomes for students and responsible stewardship of public funds,” said Commission Chairwoman Karen Street. “Performance contracts are a critical component of a high-quality charter school system, and this one helps clarify the responsibilities of the schools and of the Commission itself.”

Charter schools, public schools that are governed and managed independently from the Department of Education, have been in Hawaii since 1999 but until now had never operated under performance contracts, which are considered best practice for the charter sector nationwide.

Act 130 of 2012 changed that by establishing the new Commission and requiring performance contracts with each charter school.

“The development of the contract has been a laborious and collaborative process with the schools, and they are to be commended for their engagement and for moving forward,” added Commission Executive Director Tom Hutton. “This hasn’t been accomplished without some real anxiety on the part of the schools, so our work has only begun. In the coming year, the Commission and the schools will continue to work together to refine what we have put in place and address concerns that may arise.”

The execution of the performance contracts is the latest step in the revamping of Hawaii’s chartering system under Act 130. As part of the transition, July 1 also marked the sunsetting of the Charter School Administrative Office and its replacement by a restructured Commission staff.

The improvement process continues with the recent enactment of Act 159, which further modified Act 130.

“As with any significant transition, there are a lot of moving parts right now,” Hutton said. “The Commission looks forward to the challenging work ahead for the betterment of charter schools and public education in Hawaii.”

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