by Hawaii Charter School Administrative Office
Honolulu – The Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission yesterday approved a new charter contract with accountability measures for financial and organizational performance for all charter schools in the state. The contract also clarifies the charter schools’ participation in the state’s academic accountability system for all public schools.
The Commission worked with charter school operators, other community stakeholders, and experts at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) to develop the measures pursuant to its duties under Hawaii’s new charter law, Act 130, which was enacted last year.
“This new contract and performance standards implement the requirements of a much more rigorous state charter law that will ultimately raise the bar for charter schools across our state,” said Karen Street, the chair of the Commission. “We believe these measures will preserve the autonomy of Hawaii’s charter schools, which is needed to fuel innovation in schools, while ensuring accountability for public dollars.”
The contract, which all current and new charter schools will be required to sign, incorporates specific performance standards developed over many months in collaboration with NACSA, the charter schools, and the Hawaii Public Charter Schools Network (HPCSN). “This contract establishes the kind of rigorous, transparent accountability system now required by Hawaii’s law,” said William Haft, vice president of authorizer development at NACSA. “The engagement and active participation of the charter school community has benefitted our work with the Commission tremendously.”
Charter schools provided input that resulted in substantive changes to the draft contract and performance frameworks to ensure they were relevant, accurate, consistent, and realistic. “We have worked, and will continue to work, with the Commission to make sure schools understand their responsibilities and that the new accountability system will honor local decision-making in Hawaii’s charter schools,” said HPCSN executive director Lynn Finnegan.
After Act 130 established the Commission as the authorizing agency and required charter school performance contracts that provide for clear financial, organizational, and academic accountability, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently raised its national ranking of Hawaii’s charter law from thirty-fifth to fourteenth place, the greatest gain made by any state that year.
“The adoption of the new accountability framework marks an important milestone in Hawaii’s overhaul of its chartering system,” concluded Tom Hutton, the Commission’s newly appointed executive director. “While the Commission’s task is a difficult one, it reflects our community’s commitment to provide the children of Hawaii with a range of high quality educational options.”