PRIOR PRINTER'S NOS. 226, 721, 1031

PRINTER'S NO.  1711

  

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

  

SENATE BILL

 

No.

1

Session of

2011

  

  

INTRODUCED BY PICCOLA, WILLIAMS, SCARNATI, PILEGGI, FOLMER, BROWNE, SMUCKER, ALLOWAY, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY, EICHELBERGER, PIPPY, D. WHITE, MENSCH, BRUBAKER, WASHINGTON AND STACK, JANUARY 26, 2011

  

  

SENATOR PICCOLA, EDUCATION, RE-REPORTED AS AMENDED, OCTOBER 25, 2011   

  

  

  

AN ACT

  

1

Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An

2

act relating to the public school system, including certain

3

provisions applicable as well to private and parochial

4

schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the

5

laws relating thereto," in opportunities for educational

<--

6

excellence, further providing for definitions and for

7

concurrent enrollment agreements; in charter schools, further

8

providing for definitions; establishing the Charter School

9

Funding Advisory Committee; further providing for powers of

10

charter schools, for charter school requirements, for powers

11

of board of trustees, for establishment of charter school,

12

for contents of application, for terms and form of charter,

13

for State Charter School Appeal Board, for facilities, for

14

enrollment, for funding for charter schools, for annual

15

reports and assessments, for causes for nonrenewal or

16

termination and for provisions applicable to charter schools;

17

providing for effect on existing charter schools; further

18

providing for powers and duties of department, for assessment

19

and evaluation, for school district and intermediate unit

20

responsibilities and for establishment of cyber charter

21

school; repealing provisions relating to enrollment and

22

notification; further providing for applicability of other

23

provisions of this act and of other acts and regulations; 

24

providing for opportunity scholarships; establishing the

<--

25

Excess Scholarship Fund; providing and for educational

<--

26

improvement tax credit; and repealing provisions of the Tax

27

Reform Code of 1971 relating to educational improvement tax

28

credit.

29

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 


1

hereby enacts as follows:

2

Section 1.  The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known

<--

3

as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding an

4

article to read:

5

ARTICLE XXV-B

6

OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIPS AND

7

EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENT TAX CREDIT

8

(a)  Preliminary Provisions

9

Section 2501-B.  Short title.

10

This article shall be known and may be cited as the

11

Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit

12

Act.

13

(b)  Opportunity Scholarships

14

Section 2501.1-B.  Legislative findings.

15

The General Assembly finds that:

16

(1)  Pursuant to section 14 of Article III of the

17

Constitution of Pennsylvania, the General Assembly has the

18

responsibility to provide for the maintenance and support of

19

a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve

20

the needs of this Commonwealth.

21

(2)  Parents are best suited to choose the most

22

appropriate means of education for their school-age children.

23

(3)  Providing diverse educational opportunities for the

24

children of this Commonwealth is a civic and civil rights

25

imperative and a matter of serious concern.

26

(4)  The importance of providing educational choices that

27

will meet the needs of parents, and the need to maintain and

28

support an effective system of education, make it imperative

29

to provide for the increased availability of diverse

30

opportunities, including both public and nonpublic programs

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1

of education, to benefit all citizens of this Commonwealth.

2

(5)  Public schools are the foundation of the system of

3

education in this Commonwealth. Further, Pennsylvania's

4

longstanding tradition of local control of public education

5

allows communities to adapt their public school programs to

6

meet local needs. For these reasons, a robust program of

7

interdistrict school choice is a critical means of providing

8

families with increased educational options within the

9

traditional public school system.

10

(6)  The accessibility to families of nonpublic

11

educational alternatives decreases the burden on the

12

Commonwealth and local school districts and increases the

13

range of educational choices available to Pennsylvania

14

families, thus providing a benefit to all citizens of this

15

Commonwealth.

16

(7)  It is the long-term goal of the General Assembly to

17

offer assistance to all families in this Commonwealth, so as

18

to provide every child in this Commonwealth with diverse

19

educational opportunities and options.

20

(8)  As an initial step toward the long-term goal of

21

offering assistance to all Pennsylvania families, this

22

subarticle provides assistance to disadvantaged school-age

23

children in this Commonwealth who would otherwise attend

24

persistently lowest achieving schools.

25

(9)  Many disadvantaged school-age children in this

26

Commonwealth enjoy comparatively fewer educational

27

opportunities or options than school-age children who possess

28

greater economic means.

29

(10)  The programs of educational choice provided in this

30

subarticle are elements of an overall program of providing

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1

funds to increase the availability of educational

2

opportunities for school-age children in this Commonwealth.

3

(11)  A comparatively far greater proportion of public

4

funds are and, upon implementation of an educational choice

5

program, will continue to be devoted to the benefit of

6

children enrolled in the public schools of this Commonwealth.

7

Therefore, an opportunity scholarship program that offers

8

assistance to parents who choose to enroll their children in

9

participating nonpublic schools should be viewed as an

10

integral part of the Commonwealth's overall program of

11

educational funding and not as an isolated individual

12

program.

13

(12)  A program of financial assistance to enhance

14

educational choice in this Commonwealth, as one element of

15

the Commonwealth's plan for the funding of diverse

16

educational opportunities for the citizens of this

17

Commonwealth, will better prepare Commonwealth citizens to

18

compete for employment opportunities, will foster development

19

of a more capable and better-educated work force and will

20

better enable the Commonwealth to fulfill its obligation of

21

providing children with the opportunity to receive a quality

22

education.

23

Section 2502-B.  Definitions.

24

The following words and phrases when used in this subarticle

25

shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the

26

context clearly indicates otherwise:

27

"Assessment."  The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment

28

test, the Keystone Exam, an equivalent local assessment or

29

another test established by the State Board of Education to meet

30

the requirements of section 2603-B(d)(10)(i) and required under

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1

the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110, 115

2

Stat. 1425) or its successor Federal statute or required to

3

achieve other standards established by the department for the

4

public school or school district under 22 Pa. Code § 403.3

5

(relating to single accountability system).

6

"Average daily membership."  A school district's average

7

daily membership as defined in section 2501(3).

8

"Board."  The Education Opportunity Board established under

9

this subarticle.

10

"Department."  The Department of Education of the

11

Commonwealth.

12

"Excess Scholarship Fund" or "Fund."  The Excess Scholarship

13

Fund established in this subarticle.

14

"Federal poverty line."  The official Federal poverty line as

15

defined in section 673(2) of Subtitle B of the Community

16

Services Block Grant Act (Public Law 97-35, 95 Stat. 511), as

17

adjusted from time to time.

18

"Fund."  The Excess Scholarship Fund established in this

19

subarticle.

20

"Household income."  Income as used for the purposes of

21

determining eligibility for a free lunch under the Richard B.

22

Russell National School Lunch Act (60 Stat. 230, 1751 et seq.).

23

"Kindergarten."  A one-year formal kindergarten program that

24

occurs during the school year immediately prior to first grade.

25

"Local scholarship."  A scholarship that is both:

26

(1)  Funded by the local revenues of a low-income child's

27

resident school district in an amount equal to at least 35%

28

of the school district's share of its total revenue per

29

average daily membership.

30

(2)  Applied toward the low-income child's tuition to

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1

attend a nonresident public school.

2

"Low-income child."  A school-age child with a household

3

income that does not exceed 1.3 times the Federal poverty line

4

for the school year preceding the school year for which an

5

opportunity scholarship is to be distributed.

6

"Middle-income child."  A school-age child with a household

7

income that does not exceed three times the Federal poverty line

8

for the school year immediately preceding the school year for

9

which an opportunity scholarship is to be distributed.

10

"Middle-income scholarship."  A middle-income scholarship

11

awarded to a middle-income child under this subarticle to pay

12

tuition for the child to attend a nonresident public school or a

13

participating nonpublic school.

14

"Middle-income scholarship recipient."  A middle-income child

15

who is awarded a middle-income scholarship under this

16

subarticle.

17

"Nonpublic school."  A school, other than a public school,

18

located within this Commonwealth where a Commonwealth resident

19

may legally fulfill the compulsory school attendance

20

requirements of this act and that meets the applicable

21

requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public

22

law 88-352, 78 Stat. 241). The term also includes a full-time or

23

part-time kindergarten program operated by a nonpublic school.

24

"Nonresident public school."  A public school outside a

25

child's resident school district.

26

"Nonresident school district."  A school district other than

27

the school district in which a school-age child resides.

28

"Nonresident student."  A school-age child attending a public

29

school outside the child's resident school district.

30

"Opportunity scholarship."  An opportunity scholarship

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1

awarded to a low-income child under this subarticle to pay

2

tuition for the child to attend a nonresident public school or a

3

participating nonpublic school.

4

"Opportunity scholarship program" or "program."  The

5

opportunity scholarship program established under this

6

subarticle.

7

"Opportunity scholarship recipient."  A low-income child who

8

is awarded an opportunity scholarship under this subarticle.

9

"Parent."  A Commonwealth resident who is a parent or

10

guardian of a school-age child.

11

"Participating nonpublic school."  A nonpublic school located

12

in this Commonwealth and offering a program of instruction for

13

kindergarten through 12th grade, or a combination of grades,

14

that certifies to the board under section 2505-B that it meets

15

the following criteria:

16

(1)  the nonpublic school is a nonprofit entity that is

17

exempt from Federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the

18

Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. §

19

1 et seq.);

20

(2)  the nonpublic school does not discriminate in its

21

admission policies or practices for opportunity scholarship

22

applicants on the basis of measures of achievement or

23

aptitude or status as a handicapped person, provided,

24

however, that an applicant may be required to meet

25

established eligibility criteria for participation in magnet

26

schools or in schools with specialized academic missions; and

27

(3)  the nonpublic school is in full compliance with all

28

Federal and State laws applicable to nonpublic schools on the

29

date prior to the effective date of this section.

30

"Persistently lowest achieving school."  A public elementary

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1

or secondary school within this Commonwealth that is among the

2

lowest performing 5% of schools. To determine the lowest

3

performing 5% of schools, the department shall:

4

(1)  consider all public schools in this Commonwealth,

5

with the exception of charter schools, cyber charter schools,

6

area vocational-technical schools, schools that do not draw

7

their student body from a particular attendance boundary and

8

schools with specialized academic programs with specific

9

admissions criteria;

10

(2)  exclude schools that have made adequate yearly

11

progress or were determined to be making progress for at

12

least one of the two most recent school years or that have

13

not been measured for adequate yearly progress in one of the

14

two most recent school years;

15

(3)  rank all remaining schools based upon their

16

performance on the most recent assessment for which data is

17

posted on the department's publicly accessible Internet

18

website; and

19

(4)  include the lowest-performing 144 schools ranked

20

under paragraph (3) on a list of persistently lowest-

21

achieving schools.

22

"Resident school district."  The school district in which a

23

school-age child resides.

24

"School-age child."  A child enrolling in kindergarten or in

25

grades 1 through 12.

26

"Student with a disability."  A school-age child who has been

27

identified, in accordance with 22 Pa. Code Ch. 14 (relating to

28

special education services and programs), as a "child with a

29

disability," as defined in 34 CFR § 300.8 (relating to a child

30

with a disability).

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1

"Total revenue per average daily membership."  A school

2

district's total revenue per average daily membership minus the

3

amount of reimbursement to the school district for pupil

4

transportation under  sections 2509.3 and 2541.

5

Section 2503-B.  Opportunity scholarship program.

6

(a)  Establishment.--Beginning with the 2011-2012 school

7

year, the opportunity scholarship program shall be established

8

to provide scholarships to help low-income children pay tuition

9

to attend a nonresident public school or a participating

10

nonpublic school.

11

(b)  Phase-in.--The opportunity scholarship program shall be

12

phased in as follows:

13

(1)  During the 2011-2012 school year, the opportunity

14

scholarship program shall be available to low-income children

15

who satisfy both of the following:

16

(i)   Either attended a persistently lowest achieving

17

school during the 2010-2011 school year or will be a

18

kindergarten student during the 2011-2012 school year.

19

(ii)  Will reside within the attendance boundary of a

20

persistently lowest achieving school as of the first day

21

of classes of the 2011-2012 school year.

22

(2)  During the 2012-2013 school year, the opportunity

23

scholarship program shall be available to low-income children

24

who qualified for the program for the 2011-2012 school year

25

under paragraph (1) and to low-income children who will 

26

reside within the attendance boundary of a persistently

27

lowest achieving school as of the first day of classes of the

28

2012-2013 school year. 

29

(3)  (i)  During the 2013-2014 school year and each

30

school year thereafter, the opportunity scholarship

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1

program shall be available to all low-income children

2

residing in this Commonwealth, provided that the

3

aggregate amount of all opportunity scholarships awarded

4

for the 2013-2014 school year and for each school year

5

thereafter to low-income children who do not reside

6

within the attendance boundary of a persistently lowest

7

achieving school as of the first day of classes of the

8

school year shall not exceed $250,000,000.

9

(ii)  Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to

10

limit the amount of opportunity scholarships awarded to

11

low-income children who were eligible for opportunity

12

scholarships in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years

13

or who reside within the attendance boundary of a

14

persistently lowest achieving school as of the first day

15

of classes of a school year.

16

(c)  List of persistently lowest achieving schools to be

17

published.--By April 1, 2011, and by February 1 of each year

18

thereafter, the department shall publish on the department's

19

publicly accessible Internet website and in the Pennsylvania

20

Bulletin a list of persistently lowest achieving schools that

21

will be in effect for purposes of this subarticle for the

22

following school year. The department shall publish the list

23

based upon the most recent school year for which data is

24

available.

25

(d)  Notice.--

26

(1)  For each school year, by a date established by the

27

board, each school district in this Commonwealth shall post

28

on its publicly accessible Internet website notice of the

29

following:

30

(i)  A description of the opportunity scholarship

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1

program.

2

(ii)  Instructions for applying for an opportunity

3

scholarship.

4

(iii)  Instructions for applying for a local

5

scholarship where the school district has elected to

6

provide a local scholarship under section 2504-B(b).

7

(iv)  A statement as to whether any schools in the

8

school district have been designated by the department as

9

persistently lowest achieving schools.

10

(v)  Notice that a parent must contact directly the

11

nonresident public school or participating nonpublic

12

school in which the parent's child seeks to enroll for

13

application instructions.

14

(2)  The notice shall be in a form provided by the board.

15

Section 2504-B.  Opportunity scholarship to attend a nonresident

16

public school.

17

(a)  Eligibility.--A low-income child who is eligible to

18

participate in the opportunity scholarship program may receive

19

an opportunity scholarship to pay tuition to attend a

20

nonresident public school that accepts a child's enrollment

21

application under subsection (d).

22

(b)  Local scholarship.--A school district may elect to

23

provide a local scholarship to low-income children residing

24

within the school district to pay tuition to attend a

25

nonresident public school that accepts a child's enrollment

26

application under subsection (d). A school district that elects

27

to provide a local scholarship shall:

28

(1)  By a date established by the board, notify all

29

residents of the school district of the availability and

30

amount of the local scholarship for the following school year

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1

and the process by which a low-income child may apply to the

2

board to receive the opportunity and local scholarships. The

3

school district shall post the notice on the school

4

district's publicly accessible Internet website. The notice

5

may be incorporated into the notice the school district is

6

required to provide under section 2503-B(d).

7

(2)  By a date established by the board, notify the board

8

of the availability and amount of the local scholarship for

9

the following school year.

10

(3)  When directed to do so by the board, pay to the

11

board the local scholarship for each low-income child

12

residing in the district who the board determines to be

13

eligible for the local scholarship and who the board confirms

14

has enrolled in a nonresident public school.

15

(4)  Comply with all guidelines developed by the board

16

under section 2509-B.

17

(c)  Application for opportunity and local scholarships.--

18

(1)  By a date established by the board and pursuant to

19

guidelines developed by the board under section 2509-B, the

20

parent of a low-income child may apply to the board:

21

(i)  For an opportunity scholarship for the following

22

school year.

23

(ii)  For a local scholarship for the following

24

school year, where the low-income child's resident school

25

district has elected to provide a local scholarship under

26

subsection (b).

27

(2)  By a date established by the board, the board shall

28

notify parents whether the scholarships for which the student

29

applied will be awarded for the following school year.

30

(d)  Application for enrollment in a nonresident public

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1

school.--

2

(1)  By a date established by the board, the parent of a

3

low-income child who has been awarded a scholarship under

4

subsection (c) may apply to one or more nonresident public

5

schools for enrollment of the child for the following school

6

year. The application shall be on a form provided by the

7

nonresident school district.

8

(2)  (i)  By a date established by the board, the 

9

nonresident school district shall provide written notice

10

to the parent and the board as to whether the child will

11

be offered enrollment in the requested nonresident public

12

school for the following school year.

13

(ii)  By a date established by the board, the parent

14

must provide written notice to the board, the resident

15

school district and the nonresident school district

16

whether the offer of enrollment will be accepted.

17

(iii)  By a date established by the board, the board

18

shall provide the resident school district and the

19

nonresident school district with written confirmation of

20

the opportunity scholarship recipient's enrollment in the

21

nonresident school district.

22

 (iv)  If the child is not enrolled in a nonresident

23

public school, the child's resident school district shall

24

determine the public school within the resident school

25

district to which the child will be assigned.

26

(3)  Each school district shall develop guidelines

27

setting forth the terms and conditions under which it will

28

enroll nonresident students receiving opportunity and local

29

scholarships and shall develop an enrollment application form

30

and process. If a school district determines to enroll

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1

nonresident students receiving opportunity and local

2

scholarships, the school district must enroll such

3

nonresident students on a random basis from a pool of

4

applicants who meet the application deadline established by

5

the board, provided that:

6

(i)  the nonresident student's enrollment in the

7

nonresident school district would not place either the

8

nonresident school district or the resident school

9

district in violation of a valid and binding

10

desegregation order;

11

(ii)  the nonresident student has not been expelled

12

nor is the nonresident student in the process of being

13

expelled under section 1317.2 or 1318 and applicable

14

regulations of the State Board of Education;

15

(iii)  the nonresident student has not been recruited

16

by the school district or its representatives for

17

athletic purposes; or

18

(iv)  the nonresident student meets the established

19

eligibility criteria for participation in a magnet school

20

or in a public school with a specialized academic

21

mission.

22

(4)  A nonresident school district may give priority in

23

enrollment to a nonresident student who has been awarded a

24

local scholarship.

25

(e)  Commonwealth payments.--The Commonwealth shall make

26

payment pursuant to the schedule contained in section 2517 to

27

each school district or area vocational-technical school that

28

accepts a nonresident student under the provisions of this

29

subarticle subject to the following terms and conditions:

30

(1)  The Commonwealth shall pay to each school district

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1

or area vocational-technical school that accepts a

2

nonresident student, on a tuition basis, the amount

3

determined under section 2506-B.

4

(2)  (i)  For a nonresident student who is an opportunity

5

scholarship recipient and defined as a "student with a

6

disability," services provided to the opportunity

7

scholarship recipient shall be charged against the

8

Commonwealth's special education subsidy to the resident

9

school district, provided that the resident school

10

district shall not be charged more for services provided

11

to the opportunity scholarship recipient by the

12

nonresident school district than the difference between

13

the current year cost of the services had the opportunity

14

scholarship recipient remained in the resident school

15

district and the sum of the opportunity scholarship, the

16

local scholarship and the per pupil special education

17

funding following the opportunity scholarship recipient.

18

(ii)  The resident school district shall provide the

19

board with documentation of the prior year's cost of

20

services provided to the opportunity scholarship

21

recipient and an estimate of the cost of providing those

22

services in the current year had the opportunity

23

scholarship recipient remained in the resident school

24

district. Any cost not covered by this funding shall be

25

borne by the nonresident school district enrolling the

26

opportunity scholarship recipient.

27

(3)  An opportunity scholarship recipient shall be

28

included in the average daily membership of the opportunity

29

scholarship recipient's resident school district.

30

(4)  In the event an opportunity scholarship recipient

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1

withdraws from a nonresident school district prior to the

2

completion of the school year, the following shall apply:

3

(i)  The nonresident school district shall, within 15

4

days of the opportunity scholarship recipient's

5

withdrawal from the nonresident school district, provide

6

the board with written notice of the opportunity

7

scholarship recipient's withdrawal from the nonresident

8

school district.

9

(ii)  The resident school district, nonresident

10

school district or participating nonpublic school in

11

which the opportunity scholarship recipient subsequently

12

enrolls shall notify the board within five days of the

13

opportunity scholarship recipient's enrollment.

14

(iii)  Within 30 days after receiving the notice

15

required under subparagraph (ii), the board shall do the

16

following:

17

(A)  If the opportunity scholarship recipient

18

enrolls in the resident school district or a

19

nonresident school district, pay the resident school

20

district or nonresident school district the full

21

amount of the opportunity scholarship payment reduced

22

on a pro rata basis for the portion of the school

23

year in which the opportunity scholarship recipient

24

was enrolled in another school.

25

(B)  If the opportunity scholarship recipient

26

enrolls in a participating nonpublic school, pay the

27

opportunity scholarship recipient's parent the full

28

amount of the opportunity scholarship payment reduced

29

on a pro rata basis for the portion of the school

30

year in which the opportunity scholarship recipient

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1

was enrolled in another school. Such payment shall be

2

made to the parents of the opportunity scholarship

3

recipient pursuant to the provisions of section

4

2505-B(b).

5

(f)  Limitation.--The tuition charged by a nonresident school

6

district to an opportunity scholarship recipient under this

7

subarticle shall not exceed the sum of the opportunity

8

scholarship and the local scholarship, if applicable, awarded to

9

the opportunity scholarship recipient.

10

(g)  Transportation.--

11

(1)  Notwithstanding any provisions of section 1361 to

12

the contrary, a school district that provides its resident

13

public school pupils with transportation to and from the

14

resident public schools or to and from any points within or

15

without this Commonwealth in order to provide field trips

16

under section 1361 shall provide a student who resides within

17

the school district but regularly attends a nonresident

18

public school, including a charter school, that is located

19

not more than ten miles from the student's resident school

20

district by the nearest public highway, with transportation

21

to and from such nonresident public school or to and from any

22

points within or without this Commonwealth in order to

23

provide field trips under section 1361.

24

(2)  Transportation of a student under this subsection

25

shall be subject to reimbursement under section 2541.

26

Section 2505-B.  Opportunity  scholarship to attend a

27

participating nonpublic school.

28

(a)  Eligibility.--The parent of a low-income child who is

29

eligible to receive an opportunity scholarship under section

30

2503-B and desires to apply for an opportunity scholarship to

- 17 -

 


1

attend a participating nonpublic school must:

2

(1)  By a date established by the board, apply to the

3

board for an opportunity scholarship for the following school

4

year pursuant to guidelines developed by the board under

5

section 2509-B. By a date established by the board, the board

6

shall notify parents whether the opportunity scholarship will

7

be awarded for the following school year.

8

(2)  Apply for enrollment directly to the participating

9

nonpublic school pursuant to application procedures developed

10

by the participating nonpublic school. By a date established

11

by the board, a participating nonpublic school shall provide

12

written confirmation to the board of each opportunity

13

scholarship recipient whose application for enrollment has

14

been accepted for the following school year. By a date

15

established by the board, the board shall provide the

16

opportunity scholarship recipient's resident school district

17

with written confirmation of the opportunity scholarship

18

recipient's enrollment in the participating nonpublic school.

19

(b)  Payment of opportunity scholarship awards.--The

20

Commonwealth shall provide payment of an opportunity scholarship

21

to the parents of each opportunity scholarship recipient who is

22

enrolled in a participating nonpublic school under the

23

provisions of this subarticle subject to the following terms and

24

conditions:

25

(1)  Opportunity scholarships shall be awarded only for

26

the payment of costs of tuition at a participating nonpublic

27

school within this Commonwealth. Opportunity scholarships

28

shall not be awarded for enrollment in a home education

29

program provided under section 1327.1.

30

(2)  Opportunity scholarships shall be paid to the

- 18 -

 


1

parents of an opportunity scholarship recipient upon the

2

board's receipt of written confirmation of enrollment from

3

the participating nonpublic school selected by the recipient.

4

The opportunity scholarship award shall be paid by check

5

which may be endorsed by the parents only for payment of

6

tuition at the participating nonpublic school at which the

7

opportunity scholarship recipient's enrollment has been

8

confirmed.

9

(3)  In the event an opportunity scholarship recipient 

10

withdraws from a participating nonpublic school prior to the

11

completion of the school year, the following shall apply:

12

(i)  The participating nonpublic school shall, within

13

15 days of the opportunity scholarship recipient's

14

withdrawal from the participating nonpublic school:

15

(A)  Provide the board with written notice of the

16

opportunity scholarship recipient's withdrawal from

17

the participating nonpublic school.

18

(B)  Return to the board the full amount of the

19

opportunity scholarship payment reduced on a pro rata

20

basis by the tuition for the portion of the school

21

year in which the opportunity scholarship recipient

22

was enrolled.

23

(ii)  If the participating nonpublic school fails to

24

submit to the board the amount required to be paid under

25

subparagraph (i), the board shall impose interest on the

26

unpaid amount, calculated from the due date at the rate

27

determined by the Secretary of Revenue for interest

28

payments on overdue taxes or the refund of taxes as

29

provided in sections 806 and 806.1 of the act of April 9,

30

1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code.

- 19 -

 


1

(iii)  If the opportunity scholarship recipient

2

enrolls in another participating nonpublic school within

3

the school year for which the opportunity scholarship was

4

awarded, the board shall pay the parent of the

5

opportunity scholarship recipient the opportunity

6

scholarship award prorated for the remaining portion of

7

the school year.

8

(4)  In the event an opportunity scholarship recipient is

9

expelled from a participating nonpublic school prior to the

10

completion of the school year and the opportunity scholarship

11

recipient subsequently enrolls in his resident school

12

district, the board shall pay the resident school district

13

the opportunity scholarship award prorated for the remaining

14

portion of the school year. The resident school district

15

shall apply this amount toward providing educational services

16

for the opportunity scholarship recipient, which may include,

17

but shall not be limited to, an alternative assignment or

18

alternative education services.

19

(b.1)  Penalties.--

20

(1)  Each opportunity scholarship check issued under this

21

section shall contain the following statement:

22

"Failure to endorse this check as directed by the

23

board may subject the endorser to civil penalties and

24

criminal prosecution."

25

(2)  A parent's endorsement or use of an opportunity

26

scholarship check in a manner other than as directed by the

27

department may subject the parent to the following penalties:

28

(i)  A civil penalty equal to 300% of the full amount

29

of the annual opportunity scholarship award made to the

30

parent.

- 20 -

 


1

(ii)  Disqualification from future eligibility for an

2

opportunity scholarship.

3

(iii)  Criminal prosecution.

4

(c)  Enrollment requirements.--The following shall apply to a

5

participating nonpublic school which admits an opportunity

6

scholarship recipient:

7

(1)  The participating nonpublic school shall not

8

discriminate on any basis that is illegal under Federal or

9

State  laws applicable to nonpublic schools on the date prior

10

to the effective date of this section.

11

(2)  The participating nonpublic school shall comply with

12

section 1521, which prohibits discrimination in enrollment on

13

the basis of race or color.

14

(3)  The participating nonpublic school may not recruit

15

any public school student to enroll for athletic purposes.

16

(4)  For each school year, by a date established by the

17

board, a nonpublic school that desires to enroll opportunity

18

scholarship recipients under this subarticle shall certify to

19

the board that it satisfies the definition of "participating

20

nonpublic school" in section 2502-B. Such certification shall

21

be on a form developed by the board.

22

(d)  Policies.--Upon request, a participating nonpublic

23

school shall make available for review by the parents of any

24

opportunity scholarship recipient seeking enrollment, its

25

written school policies and procedures related to tuition

26

charges, admissions, academic offerings and requirements,

27

discipline, religious instruction, parent involvement,

28

standardized testing, the release of results of standardized

29

tests administered by the participating nonpublic school and

30

extracurricular activities and suspension and expulsion of

- 21 -

 


1

students, including educational accommodations and counseling

2

offered to students and parents.

3

(e)  Assessments.--

4

(1)  (i)  Each participating nonpublic school shall

5

administer annually an assessment or a nationally normed

6

standardized achievement test in reading/language arts

7

and mathematics to each opportunity scholarship recipient

8

attending the participating nonpublic school in grades 3,

9

5, 8 and 11.

10

(ii)  To comply with this paragraph, a participating

11

nonpublic school may either administer an assessment or

12

administer a nationally normed standardized achievement

13

test chosen by the participating nonpublic school from a

14

list established under paragraph (2).

15

(2)  The board shall establish a list of at least eight

16

nationally normed standardized achievement tests from which

17

the participating nonpublic school shall select a test to be

18

administered if the participating nonpublic school does not

19

choose to administer an assessment.

20

(3)  Each participating nonpublic school shall:

21

(i)  Release each opportunity scholarship recipient's

22

individual results on the assessment or nationally normed

23

standardized achievement test administered to opportunity

24

scholarship recipients under paragraph (1) to the parent

25

of the opportunity scholarship recipient.

26

(ii)  If the participating nonpublic school has a

27

publicly accessible Internet website, post on the website

28

the participating nonpublic school's aggregate results on

29

the assessment or nationally normed standardized

30

achievement test administered to opportunity scholarship

- 22 -

 


1

recipients under paragraph (1), provided that the

2

participating nonpublic school shall not post results

3

that reveal the identity of any individual student.

4

(4)  The participating nonpublic school shall bear the

5

cost of the testing administered under this subsection and

6

shall not impose an assessment or testing fee on an

7

opportunity scholarship recipient.

8

(f)  Construction.--Nothing in this subarticle shall be

9

construed to:

10

(1)  Prohibit a participating nonpublic school from

11

limiting admission to a particular grade level, a single

12

gender or to areas of concentration of the participating

13

nonpublic school, including, but not limited to, mathematics,

14

science and the arts.

15

(2)  Empower the Commonwealth or any of its agencies or

16

officers or political subdivisions to impose any additional

17

requirements on any participating nonpublic school which are

18

not otherwise authorized under the laws of this Commonwealth

19

or to require any participating nonpublic school to enroll

20

any opportunity scholarship recipient if the participating

21

nonpublic school does not offer appropriate programs or is

22

not structured or equipped with the necessary facilities to

23

meet the special needs of the opportunity scholarship

24

recipient or does not offer a particular program requested.

25

Section 2506-B.  Amount of opportunity scholarship.

26

(a)  Calculation.--

27

(1)  The amount of the opportunity scholarship shall

28

equal 100% of the Commonwealth's share of the resident school

29

district's total revenue per average daily membership of the

30

prior school year.

- 23 -

 


1

(2)  In no case shall the combined amount of the 

2

opportunity scholarship award and any additional financial

3

assistance provided by a participating nonpublic school

4

exceed the tuition rate for the participating nonpublic

5

school.

6

(b)  Limitation.--No nonresident public school or

7

participating nonpublic school may charge an opportunity

8

scholarship recipient a higher tuition rate than the rate the

9

nonresident public school or participating nonpublic school

10

would have charged to a student who had not received an

11

opportunity scholarship.

12

(c)  Excess Scholarship Fund.--

13

(1)  The Excess Scholarship Fund is established in the

14

State Treasury and shall be funded by the amount of the

15

opportunity scholarship awarded to an opportunity scholarship

16

recipient under this subarticle in excess of the amount of

17

tuition charged to the opportunity scholarship recipient.

18

(2)  The fund shall be administered by the board and 

19

applied as follows:

20

(i)  During the 2012-2013 school year and each school

21

year thereafter, money in the fund shall be applied

22

toward the costs of the opportunity scholarship program,

23

subject to subparagraph (ii).

24

(ii)  During the 2014-2015 school year and each

25

school year thereafter, one-half of the money in the fund

26

shall be applied toward costs of the following programs:

27

(A)  One-half of the money under this

28

subparagraph shall be applied to the public school

29

demonstration grant program. Any unused grant funding

30

shall be added to the total amount of funds available

- 24 -

 


1

for the middle-income scholarship program.

2

(B)  One-half of the money under this

3

subparagraph shall be applied toward the costs of the

4

middle-income scholarship program.

5

(d)  Annual appropriations.--

6

(1)  Opportunity scholarships authorized under this

7

subarticle shall be made from annual appropriations made by

8

the General Assembly to the department and moneys available

9

in the fund for that purpose.

10

(2)  Subject to section 2503-B(b)(3), in the event that

11

insufficient moneys are available in any fiscal year to

12

provide opportunity scholarships to all eligible opportunity

13

scholarship recipients in the amount authorized, the board

14

shall make pro rata reductions in the amount of the

15

opportunity scholarship provided to each opportunity

16

scholarship recipient.

17

(3)  The total amount of opportunity scholarships

18

provided in any fiscal year shall be limited to the amount of

19

money appropriated for that fiscal year and moneys in the

20

fund.

21

(e)  Nontaxable.--Opportunity scholarship funds received by a

22

parent pursuant to this subarticle shall not be considered

23

taxable income for purposes of any local taxing ordinance or for

24

purposes of Article III of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6,

25

No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, nor shall such

26

opportunity scholarships constitute financial assistance or

27

appropriations to the participating nonpublic school attended by

28

the opportunity scholarship recipient.

29

(f)  Continued eligibility.--

30

(1)  Subject to subsection (d), a child enrolled in a

- 25 -

 


1

nonresident public school or a participating nonpublic school

2

who received an opportunity scholarship under this subarticle

3

in the prior school year shall receive an opportunity

4

scholarship in each school year of enrollment under the

5

opportunity scholarship program, provided that the child

6

remains eligible.

7

(2)  (i)  If a child who received an opportunity

8

scholarship under this subarticle in the prior school

9

year ceases to qualify as a low-income child, the child

10

shall continue to receive a partial scholarship until

11

completing the eighth grade, provided that the child

12

continues to meet all other eligibility requirements.

13

(ii)  In calculating the amount of the partial

14

scholarship, the board shall make a pro rata reduction in

15

the child's opportunity scholarship award based upon the

16

child's household income.

17

(g)  Penalties.--Any person who fraudulently submits an

18

opportunity or local scholarship application or who knowingly

19

falsifies material information on an opportunity or local

20

scholarship application shall be subject to the following

21

penalties:

22

(1)  Imposition by the board of a civil penalty of up to

23

$1,000.

24

(2)  Prosecution for violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904

25

(relating to unsworn falsification to authorities).

26

(3)  Disqualification from future participation in the

27

opportunity scholarship program.

28

(h)  Residence in more than one school district within a

29

school year.--Where an opportunity scholarship recipient resides

30

within more than one school district during a school year, the

- 26 -

 


1

amount of the opportunity scholarship shall be charged against

2

each resident school district on a pro rata basis.

3

Section 2507-B.  Guidelines.

4

(a)  Requirements.--Within 30 days of the effective date of

5

this section, the board shall establish guidelines that provide

6

the following:

7

(1)  Forms to apply for opportunity and local

8

scholarships, including application and approval processes

9

and deadlines for application and notification.

10

(2)  Procedures to verify the accuracy of the information

11

provided in an opportunity or local scholarship application.

12

(3)  Procedures for school district, school and parent

13

notification of opportunity or local scholarship awards.

14

(4)  Procedures for administration of the opportunity and

15

local scholarship programs.

16

(5)  Confirmation of school enrollment by opportunity

17

scholarship recipients.

18

(6)  Procedures for making payment of opportunity

19

scholarship awards, including policies and procedures to

20

minimize the likelihood of fraud or misuse of opportunity

21

scholarship funds. For an opportunity scholarship recipient

22

enrolled in a participating nonpublic school, the procedures

23

shall include restrictive endorsement of opportunity

24

scholarship award checks to the participating nonpublic

25

school in which the opportunity scholarship recipient is

26

enrolled.

27

(7)  Procedures for participating nonpublic schools to

28

pay pro rata refunds of opportunity scholarships to the board

29

when an opportunity scholarship recipient withdraws from a

30

participating nonpublic school during the school year for

- 27 -

 


1

which the opportunity scholarship was paid.

2

(8)  Development and distribution of public information

3

concerning the opportunity and local scholarship and

4

interdistrict enrollment programs.

5

(9)  Procedures to determine the eligibility of homeless

6

students for opportunity scholarships under this subarticle,

7

consistent with the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance

8

Act (Public Law 100-77, 101 Stat. 482) or a successor Federal

9

statute.

10

(10)  Deadline dates for actions required to be taken by

11

the board, the department, school districts, participating

12

nonpublic schools and parents under this subarticle.

13

(11)  Such other procedures as are necessary to fully

14

implement the opportunity and local scholarship and

15

interdistrict enrollment programs.

16

(12)  A list of at least eight nationally normed

17

standardized achievement tests from which a participating

18

nonpublic school may select a test to be administered

19

pursuant to section 2505-B(e). The initial list developed by

20

the board shall, at a minimum, include the following:

21

California Achievement Test, Comprehensive Testing Program

22

(CTPIV), Iowa Test of Basic Skills, Metropolitan Achievement

23

Test, Peabody Achievement Individual Test - Revised Version,

24

Stanford Achievement Test, Terra Nova and Woodcock Johnson

25

Revised Tests of Achievement III.

26

(b)  Publication.--The guidelines shall be published as a

27

statement of policy in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The board 

28

shall post the guidelines on the department's publicly

29

accessible Internet website.

30

(c)  State Board of Education.--Notwithstanding any other

- 28 -

 


1

provision of law to the contrary, the programs, procedures and

2

guidelines authorized by this subarticle shall not be subject to

3

review, regulation or approval by the State Board of Education.

4

(d)  Exemption of guidelines from certain laws.--The initial

5

guidelines established by the board, and any amendments thereto,

6

shall be exempt from the requirements of the following:

7

(1)  The act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as

8

the Regulatory Review Act.

9

(2)  The act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.769, No.240), referred

10

to as the Commonwealth Documents Law.

11

(3)  The act of October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known

12

as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.

13

Section 2508-B.  Reduction in amount of school aid.

14

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary,

15

beginning in the second consecutive school year of enrollment in

16

a nonresident public school or a participating nonpublic school

17

by an opportunity scholarship recipient who was enrolled in the

18

recipient's resident school district or in a charter school or

19

cyber charter school when the recipient first received an

20

opportunity scholarship under this subarticle, the amount of

21

Commonwealth basic education funding paid by the department to

22

the resident school district shall be reduced by an amount equal

23

to the Commonwealth's share of the school district's total

24

revenue per average daily membership.

25

Section 2509-B.  Education Opportunity Board.

26

(a)  Establishment.--An independent board to be known as the

27

Education Opportunity Board is established within the

28

department. The board shall consist of three members appointed

29

by the Governor with the advice and consent of a majority of the

30

members elected to the Senate. The Governor may appoint no more

- 29 -

 


1

than two members to the board who are members of the same

2

political party as the Governor.

3

(b)  Terms of members.--Members of the board shall serve a

4

term of four years. Vacancies shall be filled for an unexpired

5

term in the same manner as original appointments. Members shall

6

continue to serve after the expiration of their term until the

7

Governor appoints a replacement who is confirmed by a majority

8

of the members elected to the Senate. All members of the board

9

must be residents of this Commonwealth.

10

(c)  Chairperson.--The Governor shall annually select a

11

chairperson from among the membership of the board.

12

(d)  Meetings.--Meetings shall be held at the call of the

13

chairperson or upon request in writing of a majority of the

14

board. A majority shall constitute a quorum and a majority of

15

such quorum shall have the authority to act upon any matter

16

properly before the board unless otherwise specified in this

17

subarticle.

18

(e)  Compensation prohibited.--Members of the board shall

19

receive no compensation for their services but shall be

20

reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in

21

the performance of their official board duties.

22

(f)  Executive director and staff.--

23

(1)  There shall be an executive director of the board

24

who shall serve as the executive officer and secretary of the

25

board. The board shall employ and fix the reasonable

26

compensation of the executive director.

27

(2)  The executive director, with approval of the board,

28

may employ additional professional and clerical personnel as

29

may be necessary to carry out the duties and responsibilities

30

of the board.

- 30 -

 


1

(3)  The department shall provide adequate funding, space

2

and equipment to facilitate the activities of the board.

3

(g)  Legal advice and assistance.--The Governor, through his

4

General Counsel, shall provide such legal advice and assistance

5

as the board may require.

6

(h)  Powers and duties.--The board shall have the following

7

powers and duties:

8

(1)  Establish guidelines for the administration of the

9

opportunity and local scholarship programs as required under

10

section 2507-B.

11

(2)  Administer the opportunity and local scholarship

12

application and approval processes.

13

(3)  Develop the opportunity and local scholarship

14

application form and any other forms necessary to administer

15

the opportunity and local scholarship programs, including the

16

notice required to be provided by school districts under

17

section 2503-B(d).

18

(4)  Review and verify the income and residence of

19

opportunity and local scholarship applicants.

20

(5)  Announce the award of opportunity and local

21

scholarships for the following school year under sections

22

2504-B(c) and 2505-B(a).

23

(6)  Confirm the enrollment of opportunity scholarship

24

recipients in nonresident public schools and participating

25

nonpublic schools and allocate opportunity scholarship funds

26

to opportunity scholarship recipients.

27

(7)  Make payment of opportunity scholarship awards as

28

provided in sections 2504-B and 2505-B.

29

(8)  Notify school districts that elect to create a local

30

scholarship when payment must be made under section 2504-

- 31 -

 


1

B(b).

2

(9)  Beginning after the first school year of

3

implementation of the opportunity scholarship program,

4

prepare a report to be submitted to the Governor and the

5

General Assembly by December 1 of each year, made available

6

to the parents of opportunity scholarship recipients and

7

placed on the department's publicly accessible Internet

8

website that includes at least the following information for

9

the prior school year:

10

(i)  The total number of opportunity scholarships

11

requested.

12

(ii)  The total number and total dollar amount of

13

opportunity scholarships awarded, in total and

14

disaggregated by:

15

(A)  Whether the opportunity scholarship

16

recipient attends a nonresident public school or a

17

participating nonpublic school.

18

(B)  Grade level of the opportunity scholarship

19

recipient.

20

(C)  Whether the opportunity scholarship

21

recipient resides in a school district with at least

22

one persistently lowest achieving school.

23

(iii)  The administrative costs of the opportunity

24

scholarship program.

25

(iv)  A listing of nonresident public schools to

26

which opportunity scholarship funds were disbursed on

27

behalf of opportunity scholarship recipients and the

28

amount disbursed to each nonresident public school.

29

(v)  A listing of participating nonpublic schools in

30

which opportunity scholarship recipients enrolled and the

- 32 -

 


1

number of opportunity scholarship recipients who enrolled

2

in each participating nonpublic school.

3

(vi)  The total number and total dollar amount of

4

local scholarships awarded, disaggregated by the resident

5

school districts that made the local scholarship awards.

6

(10)  For the 2014-2015 school year and each school year

7

thereafter, administer and announce the award of public

8

school choice demonstration grants to eligible school

9

districts as provided under section 2513-B, and annually

10

redistribute any remaining funds from the public school

11

choice demonstration grants program to the middle-income

12

scholarship program.

13

(11)  For the 2014-2015 school year and each school year

14

thereafter, administer the middle-income scholarship program.

15

Section 2510-B.  Study.

16

Following the 2014-2015 school year, the board shall conduct

17

a study of the effectiveness of the opportunity scholarship

18

program and shall deliver a written report of its findings,

19

including any recommendations for changes to the program, to the

20

Governor, the chairman and minority chairman of the Education

21

Committee of the Senate and the chairman and minority chairman

22

of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives by

23

December 31, 2015.

24

Section 2511-B.  Exclusive jurisdiction of Supreme Court.

25

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court shall have exclusive

26

jurisdiction to hear any challenge or to render a declaratory

27

judgment concerning the constitutionality of this subarticle.

28

The Supreme Court may take such action as it deems appropriate,

29

consistent with the Supreme Court's retaining jurisdiction over

30

such a matter, to find facts or to expedite a final judgment in

- 33 -

 


1

connection with such a challenge or request for declaratory

2

relief.

3

Section 2512-B.  Optional local tuition grant program.

4

A school district may, out of funds received from the

5

Commonwealth for educational purposes, establish a program of

6

tuition grants to provide for the education of resident students

7

who wish to attend a nonresident public school or a

8

participating nonpublic school on a tuition basis. A student who

9

receives a tuition grant under this section shall be included in

10

the average daily membership of the student's resident school

11

district for the purpose of providing basic education funding

12

and special education funding under Article XXV.

13

Section 2513-B.  Public school choice demonstration grant

14

program.

15

(a)  Establishment.--A school district may, out of funds

16

received by the board under section 2506-B(c)(2)(ii)(A) and

17

available State and local funds, establish a program of tuition

18

grants to provide for the education of resident students who

19

wish to attend a nonresident public school.

20

(b)  Limit.--No grant award issued by the board to a school

21

district under this section shall exceed $500,000.

22

(c)  Procedure.--Grant applications shall only be received,

23

reviewed and allocated by the board during an annual two-week

24

grant review process to begin on July 1 and end on July 15 of

25

each calendar year.

26

(d)  Eligibility.--To be eligible for grants under this

27

program, the school district shall:

28

(1)  Submit an application to the board at a date to be

29

determined by the board requesting a public school choice

30

demonstration grant.

- 34 -

 


1

(2)  Submit a statement of the amount of the grant

2

sought, including the estimated number of tuition grants to

3

be distributed.

4

(3)  Demonstrate a commitment of funds received from both

5

local sources and the Commonwealth for educational purposes

6

of at least $3 for every $1 of grant funds issued under

7

section 2506-B(c)(2)(ii)(A).

8

(4)  Meet any other requirements as set by the board.

9

(e)  Average daily membership.--A student who receives a

10

tuition grant under this section shall be included in the

11

average daily membership of the student's resident school

12

district for the purpose of providing basic education funding

13

and special education funding under Article XXV.

14

Section 2514-B.  Middle-income scholarship program.

15

(a)  Establishment.--Beginning with the 2014-2015 school

16

year, the board shall establish a middle-income scholarship

17

program to provide scholarships to help middle-income children

18

in this Commonwealth pay tuition to attend a nonresident public

19

school or participating nonpublic school. The board shall make

20

annual middle-income scholarship awards on a pro rata basis from

21

the funding provided under section 2506-B(c)(2)(ii)(B).

22

(b)  Notice.--

23

(1)  By a date determined by the board, each school

24

district in this Commonwealth shall provide all residents of

25

the school district with notice of the following:

26

(i)  A description of the middle-income scholarship

27

program.

28

(ii)  Instructions for applying for a middle-income

29

scholarship.

30

(iii)  Notice that a parent must contact directly the

- 35 -

 


1

nonresident public school or participating nonpublic

2

school in which the parent's child seeks to enroll for

3

application instructions.

4

(2)  The school district shall provide the notice to all

5

residents of the school district by notice posted on the

6

school district's publicly accessible Internet website. The

7

notice shall be in a form provided by the board.

8

(c)  Regulations.--In promulgating regulations for the

9

administration of the middle-income scholarship, the board shall

10

develop application and enrollment processes and procedures

11

substantively similar to sections 2504-B and 2505-B. Regulations

12

shall be subject to review in accordance with the act of June

13

25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act.

14

(d)  Limitation.--

15

(1)  No nonresident public school or participating

16

nonpublic school may charge a middle-income scholarship

17

recipient a higher tuition rate than the rate the nonresident

18

public school or participating nonpublic school would have

19

charged to a student who had not received a middle-income

20

scholarship.

21

(2)  The combined amount of the middle-income scholarship

22

award and any additional financial assistance provided by the

23

participating nonpublic school shall not exceed the tuition

24

rate for the participating nonpublic school.

25

(e)  Applicability.--The provisions of sections 2505-B(c),

26

(d), (e) and (f) and 2506-B(e), (g) and (h) shall apply to the

27

middle-income scholarship program established under this

28

section.

29

(c)  Educational Improvement Tax Credit

30

Section 2521-B.  Definitions.

- 36 -

 


1

The following words and phrases when used in this subarticle

2

shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the

3

context clearly indicates otherwise:

4

"Business firm."  An entity authorized to do business in this

5

Commonwealth and subject to taxes imposed under Article XVI of

6

the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The

7

Insurance Company Law of 1921, or Article III, IV, VI, VII,

8

VIII, IX or XV of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known

9

as the Tax Reform Code of 1971. The term includes a pass-through

10

entity. For purposes of this subarticle, a business firm shall

11

be included in one of the following groups:

12

(1)  Group 1 includes any business firm that is entering

13

the second year of a two-year commitment.

14

(2)  Group 2 includes any business firm that is renewing

15

a two-year commitment that was fulfilled in the most recent

16

fiscal year or is applying for tax credits for a contribution

17

to a prekindergarten scholarship organization in the same

18

amount that it had contributed in the most recent fiscal

19

year.

20

(3)  Group 3 includes any business firm other than a

21

business firm in Group 1 or Group 2.

22

"Contribution."  A donation of cash, personal property or

23

services, the value of which is the net cost of the donation to

24

the donor or the pro rata hourly wage, including benefits, of

25

the individual performing the services.

26

"Department."  The Department of Community and Economic

27

Development of the Commonwealth.

28

"Educational improvement organization."  A nonprofit entity

29

which:

30

(1)  is exempt from Federal taxation under section 501(c)

- 37 -

 


1

(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514,

2

26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.); and

3

(2)  contributes at least 80% of its annual receipts as

4

grants to a public school for innovative educational

5

programs.

6

For purposes of this definition, a nonprofit entity

7

"contributes" its annual cash receipts when it expends or

8

otherwise irrevocably encumbers those funds for expenditure

9

during the then current fiscal year of the nonprofit entity or

10

during the next succeeding fiscal year of the nonprofit entity.

11

A "nonprofit entity" includes a school district foundation,

12

public school foundation, charter school foundation or cyber

13

charter school foundation.

14

"Eligible prekindergarten student."  A student, including an

15

eligible student with a disability, who is enrolled in a

16

prekindergarten program and is a member of a household with a

17

maximum annual household income as increased by the applicable

18

income allowance.

19

"Eligible student."  A school-age student, including an

20

eligible student with a disability, who is enrolled in a school

21

and is a member of a household with a maximum annual household

22

income as increased by the applicable income allowance.

23

"Eligible student with a disability."  A prekindergarten

24

student or a school-age student who meets all of the following:

25

(1)  Is either enrolled in a special education school or

26

has otherwise been identified, in accordance with 22 Pa. Code

27

Ch. 14 (relating to special education services and programs),

28

as a "child with a disability," as defined in 34 CFR § 300.8

29

(relating to child with a disability).

30

(2)  Needs special education and related services.

- 38 -

 


1

(3)  Is enrolled in a prekindergarten program or in a

2

school.

3

(4)  Is a member of a household with a household income

4

of not more than the maximum annual household income.

5

"Household."  An individual living alone or with the

6

following: a spouse, parent and their unemancipated minor

7

children, other unemancipated minor children who are related by

8

blood or marriage or other adults or unemancipated minor

9

children living in the household who are dependent upon the

10

individual.

11

"Household income."  All moneys or property received of

12

whatever nature and from whatever source derived. The term does

13

not include the following:

14

(1)  Periodic payments for sickness and disability other

15

than regular wages received during a period of sickness or

16

disability.

17

(2)  Disability, retirement or other payments arising

18

under workers' compensation acts, occupational disease acts

19

and similar legislation by any government.

20

(3)  Payments commonly recognized as old-age or

21

retirement benefits paid to persons retired from service

22

after reaching a specific age or after a stated period of

23

employment.

24

(4)  Payments commonly known as public assistance or

25

unemployment compensation payments by a governmental agency.

26

(5)  Payments to reimburse actual expenses.

27

(6)  Payments made by employers or labor unions for

28

programs covering hospitalization, sickness, disability or

29

death, supplemental unemployment benefits, strike benefits,

30

Social Security and retirement.

- 39 -

 


1

(7)  Compensation received by United States servicemen

2

serving in a combat zone.

3

"Income allowance."

4

(1)  Subject to paragraph (2), the amount of:

5

(i)  Before July 1, 2011, $10,000 for each eligible

6

student, eligible prekindergarten student and dependent

7

member of a household.

8

(ii)  After June 30, 2011, $12,000 for each eligible

9

student, eligible prekindergarten student and dependent

10

member of a household.

11

(2)  Beginning July 1, 2012, the Department of Community

12

and Economic Development shall annually adjust the income

13

allowance amounts under paragraph (1) to reflect any upward

14

changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

15

for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area

16

in the preceding 12 months and shall immediately submit the

17

adjusted amounts to the Legislative Reference Bureau for

18

publication as a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

19

"Innovative educational program."  An advanced academic or

20

similar program that is not part of the regular academic program

21

of a public school but that enhances the curriculum or academic

22

program of the public school or provides prekindergarten

23

programs to public school students.

24

"Maximum annual household income."

25

(1)  Except as stated in paragraph (2) and subject to

26

paragraph (3), the following:

27

(i)  Before July 1, 2011, not more than $50,000.

28

(ii)  After June 30, 2011, not more than $60,000.

29

(2)  With respect to an eligible student with a

30

disability, as calculated by multiplying:

- 40 -

 


1

(i)  the sum of:

2

(A)  the applicable amount under paragraph (1);

3

and

4

(B)  the applicable income allowance; by

5

(ii)  the applicable support level factor according

6

to the following table:

7

Support Level

Support Level Factor

8

1

1.50

9

2

2.993

10

(3)  Beginning July 1, 2012, the Department of Community

11

and Economic Development shall annually adjust the income

12

amounts under paragraphs (1) and (2) to reflect any upward

13

changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

14

for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area

15

in the preceding 12 months and shall immediately submit the

16

adjusted amounts to the Legislative Reference Bureau for

17

publication as a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

18

"Pass-through entity."  A partnership as defined in section

19

301(n.0) of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the

20

Tax Reform Code of 1971, a single-member limited liability

21

company treated as a disregarded entity for Federal income tax

22

purposes or a Pennsylvania S corporation as defined in section

23

301(n.1) of the Tax Reform Code of 1971.

24

"Prekindergarten program."  A program of instruction for

25

three-year-old or four-year-old students that utilizes a

26

curriculum aligned with the curriculum of the school with which

27

it is affiliated and that provides:

28

(1)  a minimum of two hours of instructional and

29

developmental activities per day at least 60 days per school

30

year; or

- 41 -

 


1

(2)  a minimum of two hours of instructional and

2

developmental activities per day at least 20 days over the

3

summer recess.

4

"Prekindergarten scholarship organization."  A nonprofit

5

entity that:

6

(1)  Either is exempt from Federal taxation under section

7

501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law

8

99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.) or is operated as a separate

9

segregated fund by a scholarship organization that has been

10

qualified under section 2522-B.

11

(2)  Contributes at least 80% of its annual cash receipts

12

to a prekindergarten scholarship program by expending or

13

otherwise irrevocably encumbering those funds for

14

distribution during the then current fiscal year of the

15

organization or during the next succeeding fiscal year of the

16

organization.

17

"Prekindergarten scholarship program."  A program to provide

18

tuition to eligible prekindergarten students to attend a

19

prekindergarten program operated by or in conjunction with a

20

school located in this Commonwealth and that includes an

21

application and review process for the purpose of making awards

22

to eligible prekindergarten students and awards scholarships to

23

eligible prekindergarten students without limiting availability

24

to only students of one school.

25

"Public school."  A public prekindergarten where compulsory

26

attendance requirements do not apply or a public kindergarten,

27

elementary school or secondary school at which the compulsory

28

attendance requirements of this Commonwealth may be met and that

29

meets the applicable requirements of Title VI of the Civil

30

Rights Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-352, 78 Stat. 241).

- 42 -

 


1

"Scholarship."  An award under a scholarship program.

2

"Scholarship organization."  A nonprofit entity that:

3

(1)  is exempt from Federal taxation under section 501(c)

4

(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514,

5

26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.); and

6

(2)  contributes at least 80% of its annual cash receipts

7

to a scholarship program.

8

For purposes of this definition, a nonprofit entity

9

"contributes" its annual cash receipts to a scholarship program

10

when it expends or otherwise irrevocably encumbers those funds

11

for distribution during the then current fiscal year of the

12

nonprofit entity or during the next succeeding fiscal year of

13

the nonprofit entity.

14

"Scholarship program."  A program to provide tuition to

15

eligible students to attend a school located in this

16

Commonwealth. A scholarship program must include an application

17

and review process for the purpose of making awards to eligible

18

students. The award of scholarships to eligible students shall

19

be made without limiting availability to only students of one

20

school.

21

"School."  A kindergarten, elementary school or secondary

22

school at which the compulsory attendance requirements of the

23

Commonwealth may be met and that meets the applicable

24

requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public

25

Law 88-352, 78 Stat. 241), or a public or nonpublic

26

prekindergarten.

27

"School age."  From the earliest admission age to a school's

28

prekindergarten or kindergarten program or, when no

29

prekindergarten or kindergarten program is provided, the

30

school's earliest admission age for beginners, until the end of

- 43 -

 


1

the school year the student attains 21 years of age or

2

graduation from high school, whichever occurs first.

3

"Special education school."  A school or program within a

4

school that is designated specifically and exclusively for

5

students with any of the disabilities listed in 34 CFR § 300.8

6

(relating to child with a disability) and meets one of the

7

following:

8

(1)  is licensed under the act of January 28, 1988

9

(P.L.24, No.11), known as the Private Academic Schools Act;

10

(2)  is accredited by an accrediting association approved

11

by the State Board of Education;

12

(3)  is a school for the blind or deaf receiving

13

Commonwealth appropriations; or

14

(4)  is operated by or under the authority of a bona fide

15

religious institution or by the Commonwealth or any political

16

subdivision thereof.

17

"Support level."  The level of support needed by an eligible

18

student with a disability, as stated in the following matrix:

19

(1)  Support level 1. The student is not enrolled in a

20

special education school.

21

(2)  Support level 2. The student is enrolled in a

22

special education school.

23

"Tax credit."  The educational improvement tax credit

24

established under this subarticle.

25

Section 2522-B.  Qualification and application.

26

(a)  Establishment.--In accordance with section 14 of Article

27

III of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, an educational

28

improvement tax credit program is established to enhance the

29

educational opportunities available to all students in this

30

Commonwealth.

- 44 -

 


1

(b)  Information.--In order to qualify under this subarticle,

2

a scholarship organization, a prekindergarten scholarship

3

organization or an educational improvement organization must

4

submit information to the department that enables the department

5

to confirm that the organization is exempt from taxation under

6

section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public

7

Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.).

8

(c)  Scholarship organizations and prekindergarten

9

scholarship organizations.--A scholarship organization or

10

prekindergarten scholarship organization must certify to the

11

department that the organization is eligible to participate in

12

the program established under this subarticle and must agree to

13

annually report the following information to the department by

14

September 1 of each year:

15

(1)  (i)  The number of scholarships awarded during the

16

immediately preceding school year to eligible

17

prekindergarten students.

18

(ii)  The total and average amounts of scholarships

19

awarded during the immediately preceding school year to

20

eligible prekindergarten students.

21

(iii)  The number of scholarships awarded during the

22

immediately preceding school year to eligible students in

23

grades kindergarten through eight.

24

(iv)  The total and average amounts of scholarships

25

awarded during the immediately preceding school year to

26

eligible students in grades kindergarten through eight.

27

(v)  The number of scholarships awarded during the

28

immediately preceding school year to eligible students in

29

grades 9 through 12.

30

(vi)  The total and average amounts of scholarships

- 45 -

 


1

awarded during the immediately preceding school year to

2

eligible students in grades 9 through 12.

3

(vii)  Where the scholarship organization or

4

prekindergarten scholarship organization collects

5

information on a county-by-county basis, the total number

6

and the total dollar amount of scholarships awarded

7

during the immediately preceding school year to residents

8

of each county in which the scholarship organization or

9

prekindergarten scholarship organization awarded

10

scholarships.

11

(2)  The information required under paragraph (1) shall

12

be submitted on a form provided by the department. No later

13

than May 1 of each year, the department shall annually

14

distribute such sample forms, together with the forms on

15

which the reports are required to be made, to each listed

16

scholarship organization and prekindergarten scholarship

17

organization.

18

(3)  The department may not require any other information

19

to be provided by scholarship organizations or

20

prekindergarten scholarship organizations, except as

21

expressly authorized in this subarticle.

22

(d)  Educational improvement organization.--

23

(1)  An application submitted by an educational

24

improvement organization must describe its proposed

25

innovative educational program or programs in a form

26

prescribed by the department. In prescribing the form, the

27

department shall consult with the Department of Education as

28

necessary. The department shall review and approve or

29

disapprove the application. In order to be eligible to

30

participate in the program established under this subarticle,

- 46 -

 


1

an educational improvement organization must agree to

2

annually report the following information to the department

3

by September 1 of each year:

4

(i)  The name of the innovative educational program

5

or programs and the total amount of the grant or grants

6

made to those programs during the immediately preceding

7

school year.

8

(ii)  A description of how each grant was utilized

9

during the immediately preceding school year and a

10

description of any demonstrated or expected innovative

11

educational improvements.

12

(iii)  The names of the public schools and school

13

districts where innovative educational programs that

14

received grants during the immediately preceding school

15

year were implemented.

16

(iv)  Where the educational improvement organization

17

collects information on a county-by-county basis, the

18

total number and the total dollar amount of grants made

19

during the immediately preceding school year for programs

20

at public schools in each county in which the educational

21

improvement organization made grants.

22

(2)  The information required under paragraph (1) shall

23

be submitted on a form provided by the department. No later

24

than May 1 of each year, the department shall annually

25

distribute such sample forms, together with the forms on

26

which the reports are required to be made, to each listed

27

educational improvement organization.

28

(3)  The department may not require any other information

29

to be provided by educational improvement organizations,

30

except as expressly authorized in this subarticle.

- 47 -

 


1

(e)  Notification.--The department shall notify the

2

scholarship organization, prekindergarten scholarship

3

organization or educational improvement organization that the

4

organization meets the requirements of this subarticle for that

5

fiscal year no later than 60 days after the organization has

6

submitted the information required under this section.

7

(f)  Publication.--The department shall annually publish a

8

list of each scholarship organization, prekindergarten

9

scholarship organization or educational improvement organization

10

qualified under this section in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The

11

list shall also be posted and updated as necessary on the

12

publicly accessible Internet website of the department.

13

Section 2523-B.  Application.

14

(a)  Scholarship organization or prekindergarten scholarship

15

organization.--In order to receive a tax credit, a business firm

16

shall apply to the department. A business firm shall receive a

17

tax credit if the scholarship organization or prekindergarten

18

scholarship organization that receives the contribution appears

19

on the list established under section 2522-B(f).

20

(b)  Educational improvement organization.--In order to

21

receive a tax credit, a business firm shall apply to the

22

department. A business firm shall receive a tax credit if the

23

department has approved the program provided by the educational

24

improvement organization that receives the contribution.

25

(c)  Contributions.--A contribution by a business firm to a

26

scholarship organization, prekindergarten scholarship

27

organization or educational improvement organization shall be

28

made no later than 60 days following the approval of an

29

application under subsection (a) or (b).

30

Section 2524-B.  Tax credit.

- 48 -

 


1

(a)  Scholarship or educational improvement organizations.--

2

In accordance with section 2525-B(a), the Department of Revenue

3

shall grant a tax credit against any tax due under either

4

Article XVI of the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known

5

as The Insurance Company Law of 1921, or Article III, IV, VI,

6

VII, VIII, IX or XV of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2),

7

known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, to a business firm

8

providing proof of a contribution to a scholarship organization

9

or educational improvement organization in the taxable year in

10

which the contribution is made which shall not exceed 75% of the

11

total amount contributed during the taxable year by the business

12

firm. The tax credit shall not exceed $300,000 annually per

13

business firm for contributions made to scholarship

14

organizations or educational improvement organizations.

15

(b)  Additional amount.--The Department of Revenue shall

16

grant a tax credit of up to 90% of the total amount contributed

17

during the taxable year if the business firm provides a written

18

commitment to provide the scholarship organization or

19

educational improvement organization with the same amount of

20

contribution for two consecutive tax years. The business firm

21

must provide the written commitment under this subsection to the

22

department at the time of application.

23

(c)  Prekindergarten scholarship organizations.--In

24

accordance with section 2525-B(a), the Department of Revenue

25

shall grant a tax credit against any tax due under either

26

Article XVI of the Insurance Company Law of 1921 or Article III,

27

IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX or XV of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 to a

28

business firm providing proof of a contribution to a

29

prekindergarten scholarship organization in the taxable year in

30

which the contribution is made which shall be equal to 100% of

- 49 -

 


1

the first $10,000 contributed during the taxable year by the

2

business firm, and which shall not exceed 90% of the remaining

3

amount contributed during the taxable year by the business firm.

4

The tax credit shall not exceed $150,000 annually per business

5

firm for contributions made to prekindergarten scholarship

6

organizations.

7

(d)  Combination of tax credits.--A business firm may receive

8

tax credits from the Department of Revenue in any tax year for

9

any combination of contributions under subsection (a), (b) or

10

(c). In no case may a business firm receive tax credits in any

11

tax year in excess of $300,000 for contributions under

12

subsections (a) and (b). In no case shall a business firm

13

receive tax credits in any tax year in excess of $150,000 for

14

contributions under subsection (c).

15

(e)  Pass-through entity.--

16

(1)  If a pass-through entity does not intend to use all

17

approved tax credits under this section, it may elect in

18

writing to transfer all or a portion of the tax credit to

19

shareholders, members or partners in proportion to the share

20

of the entity's distributive income to which the shareholder,

21

member or partner is entitled for use in the taxable year in

22

which the contribution is made or in the taxable year

23

immediately following the year in which the contribution is

24

made. The election shall designate the year in which the

25

transferred tax credits are to be used and shall be made

26

according to procedures established by the Department of

27

Revenue.

28

(2)  A pass-through entity and a shareholder, member or

29

partner of a pass-through entity shall not claim the tax

30

credit under this section for the same contribution.

- 50 -

 


1

(3)  The shareholder, member or partner may not carry

2

forward, carry back, obtain a refund of or sell or assign the

3

tax credit.

4

(4)  The shareholder, member or partner may claim the

5

credit on a joint return, but the tax credit may not exceed

6

the separate income of that shareholder, member or partner.

7

(f)  Restriction on applicability of credits.--No tax credits

8

shall be applied against any tax withheld by an employer from an

9

employee under Article III of the Tax Reform Code of 1971.

10

(g)  Time of application for credits.--

11

(1)  The department may accept applications beginning on

12

May 15 from business firms for tax credits available during a

13

fiscal year that is to begin on July 1.

14

(2)  If, on July 1 of a fiscal year, applications for tax

15

credits available during the fiscal year exceed the total

16

aggregate amount of tax credits available for the fiscal

17

year, the department shall approve applications for tax

18

credits on the following basis, subject to the provisions of

19

section 2523-B:

20

(i)  Group 1 firms whose applications were received

21

by July 1 shall be accorded first priority in the

22

approval of tax credit applications. If tax credits

23

applied for by Group 1 firms exceed the total aggregate

24

amount of tax credits available for the program under

25

section 2525-B, the department shall approve on a pro

26

rata basis the applications of all Group 1 firms that

27

applied by July 1, and the applications of Group 2 and

28

Group 3 firms shall be denied. Approval of a reduced tax

29

credit under this subparagraph shall not disqualify a

30

Group 1 firm from receiving a 90% tax credit under

- 51 -

 


1

subsection (b) even if the amount of tax credit approved

2

would require the Group 1 firm to make a lower

3

scholarship contribution in the second year of a two-year

4

commitment.

5

(ii)  If tax credits remain available after credits

6

have been awarded under subparagraph (i), Group 2 firms

7

whose applications were received by July 1 shall be

8

accorded priority in the approval of applications for the

9

remaining tax credits. If the sum of the tax credits

10

approved under subparagraph (i) and the credits applied

11

for by Group 2 firms exceeds the total aggregate amount

12

of tax credits available for the program under section

13

2525-B, the department shall approve on a pro rata basis

14

the applications for the remaining tax credits submitted

15

by all Group 2 firms that applied by July 1, and the

16

applications of Group 3 firms shall be denied.

17

(iii)  If tax credits remain available on July 1 

18

after credits have been awarded under subparagraphs (i)

19

and (ii), applications of Group 3 firms shall be

20

approved, on a pro rata basis within that group if

21

necessary. Thereafter, the department shall approve the

22

applications of all business firms on a daily basis. If,

23

on any day after July 1, the cumulative sum of the tax

24

credits approved and the tax credits applied for on that

25

day exceeds the total aggregate amount of tax credits

26

available for the program under section 2525-B, the

27

department shall approve on a pro rata basis the

28

applications received on that day.

29

Section 2525-B.  Limitations.

30

(a)  Amount.--

- 52 -

 


1

(1)  For the fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and

2

2013-2014, the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

3

approved for scholarship organizations and educational

4

improvement organizations shall not exceed $92,000,000 in a

5

fiscal year. No less than 75% of the total aggregate amount

6

of all tax credits approved shall be used to provide tax

7

credits for contributions from business firms to scholarship

8

organizations. No less than 25% of the total aggregate amount

9

of all tax credits approved shall be used to provide tax

10

credits for contributions from business firms to educational

11

improvement organizations.

12

(i)  From the tax credits for contributions by

13

business firms to educational improvement organizations,

14

20% of the available amount shall initially be set aside

15

for contributions by business firms to educational

16

improvement organizations that are also school district

17

foundations, public school foundations, charter school

18

foundations or cyber charter school foundations and shall

19

be distributed in accordance with section 2524-B(g).

20

(ii)  Tax credits remaining from the amount set aside

21

in subparagraph (i) after July 1 of each year shall be

22

made available to business firms for contributions to any

23

educational improvement organization and shall be

24

distributed in accordance with section 2524-B(g).

25

(2)  (i)  Subject to adjustment under subparagraph (ii),

26

in the fiscal year 2014-2015 and each fiscal year

27

thereafter, the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

28

available shall equal the total aggregate amount of all

29

tax credits available in the prior fiscal year.

30

(ii)  Beginning in the fiscal year 2014-2015, in any

- 53 -

 


1

fiscal year in which the total aggregate amount of all

2

tax credits approved for the prior fiscal year is equal

3

to or greater than 90% of the total aggregate amount of

4

all tax credits available for the prior fiscal year, the

5

total aggregate amount of all tax credits available shall

6

increase by 5%. The department shall publish on its

7

Internet website the total aggregate amount of all tax

8

credits available when the amount is increased under this

9

paragraph.

10

(3)  For the fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and

11

2013-2014, the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

12

approved for contributions from business firms to

13

prekindergarten scholarship programs shall not exceed

14

$8,000,000 in a fiscal year.

15

(4)  (i)  Subject to adjustment in subparagraph (ii), in

16

the fiscal year 2014-2015 and each fiscal year

17

thereafter, the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

18

available to prekindergarten scholarship programs shall

19

equal the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

20

available to prekindergarten scholarship programs in the

21

prior fiscal year.

22

(ii)  Beginning in the fiscal year 2014-2015, in any

23

fiscal year in which the total aggregate amount of all

24

tax credits available is increased under paragraph (2),

25

the total aggregate amount of all tax credits available

26

for prekindergarten scholarship programs shall increase

27

by 5%. The department shall publish on its Internet

28

website the total aggregate amount of all tax credits

29

available for prekindergarten scholarship programs when

30

the amount is increased under this paragraph.

- 54 -

 


1

(b)  Activities.--No tax credit shall be approved for

2

activities that are a part of a business firm's normal course of

3

business.

4

(c)  Tax liability.--

5

(1)  Except as provided in paragraph (2), a tax credit

6

granted for any one taxable year may not exceed the tax

7

liability of a business firm.

8

(2)  In the case of a credit granted to a pass-through

9

entity which elects to transfer the credit according to

10

section 2524-B(e), a tax credit granted for any one taxable

11

year and transferred to a shareholder, member or partner may

12

not exceed the tax liability of the shareholder, member or

13

partner.

14

(d)  Use.--A tax credit not used by the applicant in the

15

taxable year the contribution was made or in the year designated

16

by the shareholder, member or partner to whom the credit was

17

transferred under section 2524-B(e) may not be carried forward

18

or carried back and is not refundable or transferable.

19

(e)  Nontaxable income.--A scholarship received by an

20

eligible student or eligible prekindergarten student shall not

21

be considered to be taxable income for the purposes of Article

22

III of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax

23

Reform Code of 1971.

24

Section 2526-B.  Lists.

25

The Department of Revenue shall provide to the General

26

Assembly, by June 30 of each year, a list of all scholarship

27

organizations, prekindergarten scholarship organizations and

28

educational improvement organizations that receive contributions

29

from business firms granted a tax credit.

30

Section 2527-B.  Guidelines.

- 55 -

 


1

The department, in consultation with the Department of

2

Education, shall develop guidelines to determine the eligibility

3

of an innovative educational program.

4

Section 2.  Repeals are as follows:

5

(1)  The General Assembly declares that the repeal under

6

paragraph (2) is necessary to effectuate the addition of

7

Article XXV-B of the act.

8

(2)  Article XVII-F of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6,

9

No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, is repealed.

10

Section 3.  The provisions of Article XXV-B of the act are

11

severable. If any provision of that article or its application

12

to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity

13

shall not affect other provisions or applications of that

14

article which can be given effect without the invalid provision

15

or application.

16

Section 4.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

17

Section 1.  The definitions of "concurrent student" and

<--

18

"school entity" in section 1602-B of the act, added July 13,

19

2005 (P.L.226, No.46), are amended to read:

20

Section 1602-B.  Definitions.

21

The following words and phrases when used in this article

22

shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the

23

context clearly indicates otherwise:

24

* * *

25

"Concurrent student."  A student who is enrolled in a school

26

district, a charter school, a cyber charter school, an area

27

vocational-technical school, a nonpublic school, a private

28

school or a home education program under section 1327.1 and who

29

takes a concurrent course through a concurrent enrollment

30

program.

- 56 -

 


1

* * *

2

"School entity."  A school district, a charter school, a

3

cyber charter school or an area vocational-technical school.

4

* * *

5

Section 2.  Section 1613-B of the act is amended by adding a

6

subsection to read:

7

Section 1613-B.  Concurrent enrollment agreements.

8

* * *

9

(c)  Charter schools and cyber charter schools.--Charter

10

schools and cyber charter schools shall have the power and

11

authority to enter into a concurrent enrollment agreement with

12

an institution of higher education, and appropriate credit shall

13

be awarded to students concurrently enrolled under the

14

agreement.

15

Section 3.  Section 1703-A of the act, amended June 29, 2002

16

(P.L.524, No.88), is amended to read:

17

Section 1703-A.  Definitions.--[As used in this article,] The

18

following words and phrases when used in this article shall have

19

the meanings given to them in this section unless the context

20

clearly indicates otherwise:

21

"Administrator."  The term includes an employee of a charter

22

school or cyber charter school, including the chief

23

administrator of a charter school or cyber charter school and

24

any other employee, who by virtue of the employee's position is

25

responsible for taking or recommending official action of a

26

nonministerial nature with regard to contracting or procurement,

27

administering or monitoring grants or subsidies, managing or

28

regulating staff, student and school activities or any activity

29

where the official action has an economic impact of greater than

30

a de minimis nature on the interests of any person.

- 57 -

 


1

"Appeal [board" shall mean the] board."  The State Charter

2

School Appeal Board established by this article.

3

"At-risk [student" shall mean a] student."  A student at risk

4

of educational failure because of limited English proficiency,

5

poverty, community factors, truancy, academic difficulties or

6

economic disadvantage.

7

"Charter [school" shall mean an] school."  An independent

8

public school established and operated under a charter from the

9

local board of school directors and in which students are

10

enrolled or attend. A charter school must be organized as a

11

public, nonprofit corporation. Charters may not be granted to

12

any for-profit entity.

13

"Charter school foundation."  A nonprofit organization, as

14

defined under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of

15

1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)), that provides

16

funding, resources or otherwise serves to support a charter

17

school or cyber charter school, either directly or through an

18

affiliated entity.

19

"Chief administrator."  An individual appointed by a board of

20

trustees to oversee and manage the operation of a charter school

21

or cyber charter school. The term shall not include a

22

professional staff member under this article.

23

["Chief executive officer" shall mean an individual appointed

24

by the board of trustees to oversee and manage the operation of

25

the charter school, but who shall not be deemed a professional

26

staff member under this article.]

27

"Committee."  The Charter School Funding Advisory Committee.

28

"Cyber charter [school" shall mean an] school."  An 

29

independent public school established and operated under a

30

charter from the Department of Education and in which the school

- 58 -

 


1

uses technology in order to provide a significant portion of its

2

curriculum and to deliver a significant portion of instruction

3

to its students through the Internet or other electronic means.

4

A cyber charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit

5

corporation. A charter may not be granted to a for-profit

6

entity.

7

["Department" shall mean the] "Department."  The Department

8

of Education of the Commonwealth.

9

"Educational management service provider."  A for-profit

10

education management organization, nonprofit charter management

11

organization, school design provider, business manager or any

12

other partner entity with which a board of trustees of a charter

13

school or cyber charter school contracts to provide educational

14

design, business services, comprehensive management or personnel

15

functions or to implement the charter. The term does not include

16

a charter school foundation.

17

"Immediate family member."  A parent, spouse, child, brother

18

or sister.

19

"Local board of school [directors" shall mean the]

20

directors."  The board of directors of a school district in

21

which a proposed or an approved charter school is located.

22

"Nonrelated."  An individual who is not an immediate family

23

member.

24

"Regional charter [school" shall mean an] school."  An 

25

independent public school established and operated under a

26

charter from more than one local board of school directors and

27

in which students are enrolled or attend. A regional charter

28

school must be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation.

29

Charters may not be granted to any for-profit entity.

30

"Right-to-Know Law."  The act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6,

- 59 -

 


1

No.3), known as the "Right-to-Know Law."

2

"School district of [residence" shall mean the] residence."  

3

The school district in this Commonwealth in which [the parents

4

or guardians of a child reside] a child resides as determined

5

under section 1302.

6

"School [entity" shall mean a] entity."  A school district,

7

intermediate unit, joint school or area vocational-technical

8

school.

9

["Secretary" shall mean the] "Secretary."  The Secretary of

10

Education of the Commonwealth.

11

"State [board" shall mean the] board."  The State Board of

12

Education of the Commonwealth.

13

Section 4.  The act is amended by adding a section to read:

14

Section 1704-A.  Charter School Funding Advisory Committee.

15

(a)  Convention.-- 

16

(1)  The department shall immediately convene a Statewide

17

advisory committee, to be known as the Charter School Funding

18

Advisory Committee, to examine the financing of charter schools

19

and cyber charter schools in the public education system. The

20

committee shall examine how charter school and cyber charter

21

school finances affect opportunities for teachers, parents,

22

pupils and community members to establish and maintain schools

23

that operate independently from the existing school district

24

structure as a method to accomplish the requirements of section

25

1702-A. The department shall provide administrative support,

26

meeting space and any other assistance required by the committee

27

to carry out its duties under this section.

28

(2)  The committee shall consist of the following members:

29

(i)  The chairman and minority chairman of the Education

30

Committee of the Senate and the chairman and the minority

- 60 -

 


1

chairman of the Education Committee of the House of

2

Representatives or their designees.

3

(ii)  The secretary or a designee.

4

(iii)  The chairman of the State board or a designee.

5

(iv)  The following members, who shall be appointed by the

6

secretary:

7

(A)  One member who shall represent charter schools. 

8

(B) One member who shall represent regional charter schools.

9

(C)  One member who shall represent cyber charter schools.

10

(D)  One member who shall represent teachers and may be a

11

public school teacher, a charter school teacher, a regional

12

charter school teacher, a cyber charter school teacher or a

13

nonpublic school teacher.

14

(E)  One member who shall represent school administrators.

15

(F)  One member who shall represent school board members.

16

(G)  One member who shall represent a business manager of a

17

school district.

18

(H)  One member who shall represent a parent of a child

19

attending a charter school or cyber charter school.

20

(I)  One member who shall represent an institution of higher

21

education.

22

(3)  Members of the committee shall be appointed within 45

23

days of the effective date of this section. Any vacancy on the

24

committee shall be filled by the original appointing officer or

25

agency. The committee shall select a chairman and vice chairman

26

from among its membership at an organizational meeting. The

27

organizational meeting shall take place no later than 90 days

28

following the effective date of this section.

29

(4)  The committee shall hold meetings at the call of the

30

chairman. The committee may also hold public hearings on the

- 61 -

 


1

matters to be considered by the committee at locations

2

throughout this Commonwealth. All meetings and public hearings

3

of the committee shall be deemed public meetings for the purpose

4

of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings). Eight members

5

of the committee shall constitute a quorum at any meeting. Each

6

member of the committee may designate another person to

7

represent that member at meetings of the committee.

8

(5)  Committee members shall receive no compensation for

9

their services but shall be reimbursed for all necessary travel

10

and other reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the

11

performance of their duties as members. Whenever possible, the

12

committee shall utilize the services and expertise of existing

13

personnel and staff of State government.

14

(6)  The committee shall have the following powers and

15

duties:

16

(i)  Meet with current charter school operators within this

17

Commonwealth, including cyber charter schools with blended

18

programs.

19

(ii)  Review charter school financing laws in operation

20

throughout the United States.

21

(iii)  Evaluate and make recommendations on the following:

22

(A)  Powers and duties extended to charter schools and cyber

23

charter schools as they relate to financing.

24

(B)  Funding formulas for charter schools and cyber charter

25

schools, including reimbursement procedures and funding under

26

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965

27

(Public Law 89-10, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq.).

28

(C)  The process by which charter schools and cyber charter

29

schools are funded under section 1725-A.

30

(D)  Student residency as it relates to funding.

- 62 -

 


1

(E)  Special education and other special program funding.

2

(F)  Charter school transportation.

3

(G)  Charter school eligibility to receive grants and

4

funding.

5

(H)  Appropriate assessment fees on charter schools and cyber

6

charter schools.

7

(I)  Consideration of recognizing a charter school for

8

additional designations as a local education agency.

9

(iv)  The committee shall, no later than November 30, 2012,

10

issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the

11

Governor, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Minority

12

Leader of the Senate, the chairman and minority chairman of the

13

Education Committee of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of

14

Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of

15

Representatives and the chairman and minority chairman of the

16

Education Committee of the House of Representatives.

17

(b)  (Reserved).

18

Section 5.  Section 1714-A(a) of the act is amended by adding

19

clauses to read:

20

Section 1714-A.  Powers of Charter Schools.--(a)  A charter

21

school established under this act is a body corporate and shall

22

have all powers necessary or desirable for carrying out its

23

charter, including, but not limited to, the power to:

24

* * *

25

(8)  Enter into a concurrent enrollment agreement under

26

Article XVI-B with an institution of higher education.

27

(9)  Seek accreditation by an accreditation agency.

28

* * *

29

Section 6.  Section 1715-A of the act, added June 19, 1997

30

(P.L.225, No.22) and July 9, 2008 (P.L.846, No.61), is amended

- 63 -

 


1

to read:

2

Section 1715-A.  Charter School Requirements.--(a)  Charter

3

schools shall be required to comply with the following

4

provisions:

5

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this article, a charter

6

school is exempt from statutory requirements established in this

7

act, from regulations of the State board and the standards of

8

the secretary not specifically applicable to charter schools.

9

Charter schools are not exempt from statutes applicable to

10

public schools other than this act.

11

(2)  A charter school shall be accountable to the parents,

12

the public and the Commonwealth, with the delineation of that

13

accountability reflected in the charter. Strategies for

14

meaningful parent and community involvement shall be developed

15

and implemented by each school.

16

(3)  A charter school shall not unlawfully discriminate in

17

admissions, hiring or operation.

18

(4)  A charter school shall be nonsectarian in all

19

operations.

20

(5)  (i)  A charter school shall not provide any religious

21

instruction, nor shall it display religious objects and symbols

22

on the premises of the charter school. The charter school shall

23

provide for discrete and separate entrances to buildings

24

utilized for school purposes only.

25

(ii)  It shall not be a violation of this section for a

26

charter school to utilize a sectarian facility:

27

(A)  if the religious objects and symbols within the portions

28

of the facility utilized by the school are covered or removed to

29

the extent reasonably feasible; or

30

(B)  in which the unused portion of the facility or its

- 64 -

 


1

common areas contain religious symbols and objects.

2

(6)  A charter school shall not advocate unlawful behavior.

3

(7)  A charter school shall only be subject to the laws and

4

regulations as provided for in section 1732-A, or as otherwise

5

provided for in this article.

6

(8)  (i)  A charter school shall participate in the

7

Pennsylvania State Assessment System as provided for in 22 Pa.

8

Code [Ch. 5 (relating to curriculum)] Chapter 4 (relating to

9

academic standards and assessments), or subsequent regulations

10

promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. [5] 4, in the manner in

11

which the school district in which the charter school is located

12

is scheduled to participate.

13

(ii)  A charter school shall be treated in the same manner as

14

a school district for the purposes of measuring the charter

15

school's adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind

16

Act of 2001.

17

(9)  A charter school shall provide a minimum of one hundred

18

eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred (900) hours per

19

year of instruction at the elementary level, or nine hundred

20

ninety (990) hours per year of instruction at the secondary

21

level. Nothing in this clause shall preclude the use of computer

22

and satellite linkages for delivering instruction to students.

23

(10)  Boards of trustees and contractors of charter schools

24

shall be subject to the following statutory requirements

25

governing construction projects and construction-related work:

26

(i)  The following provisions of this act:

27

(A)  Sections 751 and 751.1.

28

(B)  Sections 756 and 757 insofar as they are consistent with

29

the act of December 20, 1967 (P.L.869, No.385), known as the

30

"Public Works Contractors' Bond Law of 1967."

- 65 -

 


1

(ii)  Section 1 of the act of May 1, 1913 (P.L.155, No.104),

2

entitled "An act regulating the letting of certain contracts for

3

the erection, construction, and alteration of public buildings."

4

(iii)  The act of August 11, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as

5

the "Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act."

6

(iv)  The "Public Works Contractors' Bond Law of 1967."

7

(v)  The act of March 3, 1978 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the

8

"Steel Products Procurement Act."

9

(11)  Trustees of a charter school shall be public officials

10

for the purposes of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 (relating to ethics

11

standards and financial disclosure) and shall file a statement

12

of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the

13

State Ethics Commission and the local board of school directors,

14

or, in the case of a cyber charter school, the department, no

15

later than May 1 of each year that members hold the position and

16

of the year after a member leaves the position. All members of

17

the board of trustees of a charter school shall take the oath of

18

office as required under section 321 before entering upon the

19

duties of their office.

20

[(12)  A person who serves as an administrator for a charter

21

school shall not receive compensation from another charter

22

school or from a company that provides management or other

23

services to another charter school. The term "administrator"

24

shall include the chief executive officer of a charter school

25

and all other employes of a charter school who by virtue of

26

their positions exercise management or operational oversight

27

responsibilities. A person who serves as an administrator for a

28

charter school shall be a public official under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch.

29

11 (relating to ethics standards and financial disclosure). A

30

violation of this clause shall constitute a violation of 65

- 66 -

 


1

Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) (relating to restricted activities), and the

2

violator shall be subject to the penalties imposed under the

3

jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission.]

4

(b)  A person who serves as an administrator for a charter

5

school shall be a public employe for the purposes of 65 Pa.C.S.

6

Ch. 11 (relating to ethics standards and financial disclosure)

7

and shall file a statement of financial interests for the

8

preceding calendar year with the board of trustees no later than

9

May 1 of each year that the person holds the position and of the

10

year after the person leaves the position.

11

(c)  (1)  No person who serves as an administrator for a

12

charter school may receive compensation from another charter

13

school, cyber charter school or from an educational management

14

service provider, unless:

15

(i)  The administrator has submitted a sworn statement to the

16

charter school board of trustees and the sworn statement details

17

the work for the other entity and includes the projected number

18

of hours, rate of compensation, and projected duration.

19

(ii)  The board of trustees has reviewed the sworn statement

20

under subsection (i) and agreed by resolution to grant

21

permission to the administrator.

22

(2)  A copy of the sworn statement under clause (1)(i) and

23

the resolution by the board of trustees granting the permission

24

shall be kept on file with the charter school and the board of

25

local school directors.

26

(3)  No administrator of a charter school or immediate family

27

member may serve as a voting member of the board of trustees of

28

that person's charter school.

29

(4)  (i)  No administrator of a charter school may

30

participate in the selection, award or administration of a

- 67 -

 


1

contract if the person has a conflict of interest as that term

2

is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to definitions).

3

(ii)  An administrator who knowingly violates this clause

4

commits a violation of 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) (relating to

5

restricted activities) and shall be subject to the penalties

6

imposed under the jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission.

7

(iii)  Any contract made in violation of this clause shall be

8

voidable by the board of trustees of the charter school.

9

(5)  An administrator shall be immediately dismissed upon

10

conviction for an offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime,

11

an offense pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public

12

funds or any crime involving moral turpitude.

13

Section 7.  Section 1716-A(c) of the act, added June 19, 1997

14

(P.L.225, No.22), is amended and the section is amended by

15

adding subsections to read:

16

Section 1716-A.  Powers of Board of Trustees.--* * *

17

(b.1)  (1)  For a charter school chartered after the

18

effective date of this subsection, an individual shall be

19

prohibited from serving as a voting member of the board of

20

trustees of the charter school if the individual or an immediate

21

family member receives compensation from or is employed by or is

22

a board member of the local board of school directors who

23

participated in the initial review, approval, oversight,

24

evaluation or renewal process of the charter school chartered by

25

that board.

26

(2)  An employee of the school district that chartered the

27

charter school may serve as a member of the board of trustees

28

without voting privileges.

29

(b.2)  (1)  No member of the board of trustees of a charter

30

school may participate in the selection, award or administration

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1

of any contract if the member has a conflict of interest as that

2

term is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to definitions).

3

(2)  Any member of the board of trustees who in the discharge

4

of the person's official duties would be required to vote on a

5

matter that would result in a conflict of interest shall abstain

6

from voting and follow the procedures required under 65 Pa.C.S.

7

§ 1103(j) (relating to restricted activities).

8

(3)  A member of the board of trustees who knowingly violates

9

this subsection commits a violation of 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) and

10

shall be subject to the penalties imposed under the jurisdiction

11

of the State Ethics Commission.

12

(4)  A contract made in violation of this subsection shall be

13

voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction, if the suit is

14

commenced within 90 days of the making of the contract.

15

(b.3)  A member of the board of trustees of a charter school

16

shall be automatically disqualified and immediately removed from

17

the board upon conviction for an offense graded as a felony, an

18

infamous crime, an offense pertaining to fraud, theft or

19

mismanagement of public funds, any offense pertaining to his

20

official capacity as a board member or any crime involving moral

21

turpitude.

22

(c)  The board of trustees shall comply with [the act of July

23

3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the "Sunshine Act."] 65

24

Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).

25

(d)  (1)  (i)  The board of trustees of a charter school

26

shall consist of a minimum of five nonrelated voting members.

27

(ii)  If a charter school has fewer than five nonrelated

28

voting members serving on its board on the effective date of

29

this section, the charter school shall have 60 days to appoint

30

additional members to the board to meet the minimum requirements

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1

of this section.

2

(2)  Within one year of the effective date of this

3

subsection, at least one member of the board of trustees of a

4

charter school shall be a parent of a child currently attending

5

the charter school. The board member shall be eligible to serve

6

only so long as the child is attending the charter school.

7

(e)  (1)  A majority of the voting members of the board of

8

trustees shall constitute a quorum. If less than a majority is

9

present at any meeting, no business may be transacted at the

10

meeting.

11

(2)  The affirmative vote of a majority of all the voting

12

members of the board of trustees, duly recorded, shall be

13

required in order to take action on the subjects enumerated

14

under subsection (a).

15

(3)  All meetings shall be subject to 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7.

16

(f)  (1)  If a member of the board of trustees refuses or

17

neglects to perform any duty under this article, at least 25

18

individuals who are parents or guardians of students of the

19

charter school may present a petition in writing of the refusal

20

or neglect, verified by oath or affirmation, to the court of

21

common pleas in the county in which the charter school or

22

regional charter school building is located or, in the case of a

23

cyber charter school, to the Commonwealth Court. The petition

24

shall state the facts regarding the board member.

25

(2)  The court shall grant a rule upon the member of the

26

board of trustees, returnable in not less than ten days nor more

27

than 20 days from the date of issue, to show cause why the

28

member should not be removed from the board. The member shall

29

have at least five days' notice of the granting of the rule.

30

(3)  On or before the return day of the rule, the member or

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1

members, individually or jointly, shall file in writing their

2

answer or answers to the petition, under oath.

3

(4)  If the facts stated in the petition, or any material

4

part of the petition, are denied, the court shall conduct a

5

hearing on the petition.

6

(5)  (i)  If, after the hearing or if no answer is timely

7

filed denying the facts stated in the petition, the court finds

8

that any duty imposed on the members required under this article

9

has not been done or has been neglected by them, the court may

10

remove the member or members and shall direct the local board of

11

school directors to appoint other qualified persons to serve for

12

the duration of the removed members' unexpired terms, subject to

13

this article.

14

(ii)  The court shall impose the cost of the proceedings upon

15

the petitioners, the members of the board of trustees, the local

16

board of school directors, or may apportion the cost among them.

17

(6)  Any person removed as a member of the board of trustees

18

of a charter school under this section shall not be eligible

19

again as a board member for a period of five years from the

20

removal.

21

Section 7.1.  Section 1717-A(b), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (i)

22

of the act, added July 19, 1997 (P.L.225, No.22), are amended to

23

read:

24

Section 1717-A.  Establishment of Charter School.--* * *

25

(b)  [(1)  The conversion of an existing public school or

26

portion of an existing public school to a charter school may be

27

initiated by any individual or entity authorized to establish a

28

charter school under subsection (a).

29

(2)  In order to convert an existing public school to a

30

charter school, the applicants must show that:

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1

(i)  More than fifty per centum of the teaching staff in the

2

public school have signed a petition in support of the public

3

school becoming a charter school; and

4

(ii)  More than fifty per centum of the parents or guardians

5

of pupils attending that public school have signed a petition in

6

support of the school becoming a charter school.

7

(3)  In no event shall the board of school directors serve as

8

the board of trustees of an existing school which is converted

9

to a charter school pursuant to this subsection.]

10

(4)  A charter school may be established by converting an

11

existing public school building or a portion of an existing

12

public school building. The conversion shall be initiated by the

13

school district where the existing public school is located.

14

There shall be no limit on the number of public schools in a

15

school district that can be converted to a charter school.

16

(5)  The local board of school directors, the special board

17

of control established under section 692 or the School Reform

18

Commission established under section 696 that desires to convert

19

an existing public school building or a portion of an existing

20

public school building to a charter school may designate and

21

approve by majority vote the existing public school building or

22

portion of an existing public school building that it seeks to

23

convert to a charter school.

24

(6)  (i)  Applications for the charter school shall be

25

solicited through a competitive request for proposal process

26

initiated by the local board of school directors, the special

27

board of control established under section 692 or the School

28

Reform Commission established under section 696. The content and

29

dissemination of the request for proposal must be consistent

30

with the purpose and the requirements of this article. The local

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1

board of school directors, the special board of control

2

established under section 692 or the School Reform Commission

3

established under section 696 may accept applications by any

4

individual or entity authorized to establish a charter school

5

under subsection (a) to operate the converted charter school.

6

(ii)  The local board of directors, the special board of

7

control established under section 692 or the School Reform

8

Commission established under section 696 shall evaluate each

9

submitted proposal in a public manner. Once selected, the local

10

board of school directors, the special board of control

11

established under section 692 or the School Reform Commission

12

established under section 696 must:

13

(A)  Explain how and why the proposal was selected;

14

(B)  Provide evidence, if available, of the provider's

15

success in serving student populations similar to the targeted

16

population, including demonstrated academic achievement as well

17

as successful management of nonacademic school functions if

18

applicable.

19

(7)  No member of the local board of school directors, the

20

special board of control established under section 692 or the

21

school reform committee established under section 696 may serve

22

on the board of trustees of an existing school which is

23

converted to a charter school under this subsection.

24

(8)  This article shall apply to an existing public school

25

building or a portion of an existing public school building

26

converted to a charter school.

27

(9)  In the case of an existing school being converted to a

28

charter school, the local board of school directors, the special

29

board of control established under section 692 or the School

30

Reform Commission established under section 696 shall establish

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1

the alternative arrangements for current students who choose not

2

to attend the charter school.

3

(c)  An application to establish a charter school shall be

4

submitted to the local board of school directors of the district

5

where the charter school will be located by [November 15]

6

October 1 of the school year preceding the school year in which

7

the charter school will be established except that for a charter

8

school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, an application

9

must be received by July 15, 1997. In the 1997-1998 school year

10

only, applications shall be limited to recipients of fiscal year

11

1996-1997 Department of Education charter school planning

12

grants.

13

(d)  Within forty-five (45) days of receipt of an

14

application, the local board of school directors in which the

15

proposed charter school is to be located shall hold at least one

16

public hearing on the provisions of the charter application,

17

under [the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the

18

"Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings). 

19

At least forty-five (45) days must transpire between the first

20

public hearing and the final decision of the board on the

21

charter application except that for a charter school beginning

22

in the 1997-1998 school year, only thirty (30) days must

23

transpire between the first public hearing and the final

24

decision of the board.

25

(e)  (1)  Not later than seventy-five (75) days after the

26

first public hearing on the application, the local board of

27

school directors shall grant or deny the application. For a

28

charter school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, the local

29

board of school directors shall grant or deny the application no

30

later than sixty (60) days after the first public hearing.

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1

(2)  A charter school application submitted under this

2

article shall be evaluated by the local board of school

3

directors based on criteria, including, but not limited to, the

4

following:

5

(i)  The demonstrated, sustainable support for the charter

6

school plan by teachers, parents, other community members and

7

students, including comments received at the public hearing held

8

under subsection (d).

9

(ii)  The capability of the charter school applicant, in

10

terms of support and planning, to provide comprehensive learning

11

experiences to students pursuant to the adopted charter.

12

(iii)  The extent to which the application considers the

13

information requested in section 1719-A and conforms to the

14

legislative intent outlined in section 1702-A.

15

[(iv)  The extent to which the charter school may serve as a

16

model for other public schools.]

17

(3)  The local board of school directors, in the case of an

18

existing school being converted to a charter school, shall

19

establish the alternative arrangements for current students who

20

choose not to attend the charter school.

21

(4)  A charter application shall be deemed approved by the

22

local board of school directors of a school district upon

23

affirmative vote by a majority of all the directors. Formal

24

action approving or denying the application shall be taken by

25

the local board of school directors at a public meeting, with

26

notice or consideration of the application given by the board,

27

under [the "Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7.

28

(5)  Written notice of the board's action shall be sent to

29

the applicant, the department and the appeal board. If the

30

application is denied, the reasons for the denial, including a

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1

description of deficiencies in the application, shall be clearly

2

stated in the notice sent by the local board of school directors

3

to the charter school applicant.

4

(f)  At the option of the charter school applicant, a denied

5

application may be revised and resubmitted to the local board of

6

school directors. Following the appointment and confirmation of

7

the Charter School Appeal Board under section 1721-A, the

8

decision of the local board of school directors may be appealed

9

to the appeal board. When an application is revised and

10

resubmitted to the local board of school directors, the board

11

may schedule additional public hearings on the revised

12

application. The board shall consider the revised and

13

resubmitted application at the first board meeting occurring at

14

least forty-five (45) days after receipt of the revised

15

application by the board. For a revised application resubmitted

16

for the 1997-1998 school year, the board shall consider the

17

application at the first board meeting occurring at least thirty

18

(30) days after its receipt. The board shall provide notice of

19

consideration of the revised application under [the "Sunshine

20

Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7. No appeal from a decision of a local

21

school board may be taken until July 1, 1999.

22

* * *

23

(i)  (1)  The appeal board shall have the exclusive review of

24

an appeal by a charter school applicant, or by the board of

25

trustees of an existing charter school, of a decision made by a

26

local board of directors not to grant a charter as provided in

27

this section.

28

[(2)  In order for a charter school applicant to be eligible

29

to appeal the denial of a charter by the local board of

30

directors, the applicant must obtain the signatures of at least

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1

two per centum of the residents of the school district or of one

2

thousand (1,000) residents, whichever is less, who are over

3

eighteen (18) years of age. For a regional charter school, the

4

applicant must obtain the signatures of at least two per centum

5

of the residents of each school district granting the charter or

6

of one thousand (1,000) residents from each of the school

7

districts granting the charter, whichever is less, who are over

8

eighteen (18) years of age. The signatures shall be obtained

9

within sixty (60) days of the denial of the application by the

10

local board of directors in accordance with clause (3).

11

(3)  Each person signing a petition to appeal denial of a

12

charter under clause (2) shall declare that he or she is a

13

resident of the school district which denied the charter

14

application and shall include his or her printed name;

15

signature; address, including city, borough or township, with

16

street and number, if any; and the date of signing. All pages

17

shall be bound together. Additional pages of the petition shall

18

be numbered consecutively. There shall be appended to the

19

petition a statement that the local board of directors rejected

20

the petition for a charter school, the names of all applicants

21

for the charter, the date of denial by the board and the

22

proposed location of the charter school. No resident may sign

23

more than one petition relating to the charter school

24

application within the sixty (60) days following denial of the

25

application. The department shall develop a form to be used to

26

petition for an appeal.

27

(4)  Each petition shall have appended thereto the affidavit

28

of some person, not necessarily a signer, setting forth all of

29

the following:

30

(i)  That the affiant is a resident of the school district

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1

referred to in the petition.

2

(ii)  The affiant's residence, giving city, borough or

3

township, with street and number, if any.

4

(iii)  That the signers signed with full knowledge of the

5

purpose of the petition.

6

(iv)  That the signers' respective residences are correctly

7

stated in the petition.

8

(v)  That the signers all reside in the school district.

9

(vi)  That each signer signed on the date set forth opposite

10

the signer's name.

11

(vii)  That to the best of the affiant's knowledge and

12

belief, the signers are residents of the school district.

13

(5)  If the required number of signatures are obtained within

14

sixty (60) days of the denial of the application, the applicant

15

may present the petition to the court of common pleas of the

16

county in which the charter school would be situated. The court

17

shall hold a hearing only on the sufficiency of the petition.

18

The applicant and local board of school directors shall be given

19

seven (7) days' notice of the hearing. The court shall issue a

20

decree establishing the sufficiency or insufficiency of the

21

petition. If the petition is sufficient, the decree shall be

22

transmitted to the State Charter School Appeal Board for review

23

in accordance with this section. Notification of the decree

24

shall be given to the applicant and the local board of

25

directors.]

26

(6)  In any appeal, the decision made by the local board of

27

directors shall be reviewed by the appeal board on the record as

28

certified by the local board of directors. The appeal board

29

shall give due consideration to the findings of the local board

30

of directors and specifically articulate its reasons for

- 78 -

 


1

agreeing or disagreeing with those findings in its written

2

decision. The appeal board shall have the discretion to allow

3

the local board of directors and the charter school applicant to

4

supplement the record if the supplemental information was

5

previously unavailable.

6

(7)  Not later than thirty (30) days after the date of notice

7

of the acceptance of the appeal, the appeal board shall meet to

8

officially review the certified record.

9

(8)  Not later than sixty (60) days following the review

10

conducted pursuant to clause (6), the appeal board shall issue a

11

written decision affirming or denying the appeal. If the appeal

12

board has affirmed the decision of the local board of directors,

13

notice shall be provided to both parties.

14

(9)  A decision of the appeal board to reverse the decision

15

of the local board of directors shall serve as a requirement for

16

the local board of directors of a school district or school

17

districts, as appropriate, to grant the application and sign the

18

written charter of the charter school as provided for in section

19

1720-A. Should the local board of directors fail to grant the

20

application and sign the charter within ten (10) days of notice

21

of the reversal of the decision of the local board of directors,

22

the charter shall be deemed to be approved and shall be signed

23

by the chairman of the appeal board.

24

(10)  All decisions of the appeal board shall be subject to

25

appellate review by the Commonwealth Court.

26

Section 8.  Section 1719-A of the act, added June 19, 1997

27

(P.L.225, No.22), is amended to read:

28

Section 1719-A.  Contents of Application.--[An] (a)  The

29

department shall create a standard application for charter

30

school applicants to establish a charter school. The form shall

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1

include all of the following information:

2

(1)  The identification of the charter applicant.

3

(2)  The name of the proposed charter school.

4

(3)  The grade or age levels served by the school.

5

(4)  [The proposed governance structure of the charter

6

school, including a description and method for the appointment

7

or election of members of the board of trustees.] An

8

organization chart clearly presenting the proposed governance

9

structure of the school, including lines of authority and

10

reporting between the board of trustees, administrators, staff

11

and any educational management service provider that will play a

12

role in providing management services to the charter school.

13

(4.1)  A clear description of the roles and responsibilities

14

for the board of trustees, administrators and any other

15

entities, including a charter school foundation, shown in the

16

organization chart.

17

(4.2)  A clear description and method for the appointment or

18

election of members of the board of trustees.

19

(4.3)  Standards for board performance, including compliance

20

with all applicable laws, regulations and terms of the charter.

21

(4.4)  If the charter school intends to contract with an

22

educational management service provider for services, all of the

23

following:

24

(i)  Evidence of the education management service provider's

25

record in serving student populations, including demonstrated

26

academic achievement and demonstrated management of nonacademic

27

school functions, including proficiency with public school-based

28

accounting, if applicable.

29

(ii)  A term sheet stating all of the following:

30

(A)  The officers, chief administrator and administrators of

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1

the education management service provider.

2

(B)  The proposed duration of the service contract.

3

(C)  Roles and responsibilities of the governing board, the

4

school staff and the educational management service provider.

5

(D)  The scope of services, personnel and resources to be

6

provided by the educational management service provider.

7

(E)  Performance evaluation measures and timelines.

8

(F)  The compensation structure, including clear

9

identification of all fees to be paid to the educational

10

management service provider.

11

(G)  Methods of contract oversight and enforcement.

12

(H)  Investment disclosure or the advance of moneys by the

13

educational management service provider on behalf of the charter

14

school.

15

(I)  Conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.

16

(iii)  Disclosure and explanation of any existing or

17

potential conflicts of interest between the members of the board

18

of trustees and the proposed educational management service

19

provider or any affiliated business entities, including a

20

charter school foundation qualified as a support organization

21

under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26

22

U.S.C. § 1 et seq.).

23

(5)  The mission and education goals of the charter school,

24

the curriculum to be offered and the methods of assessing

25

whether students are meeting educational goals.

26

(6)  The admission policy and criteria for evaluating the

27

admission of students which shall comply with the requirements

28

of section 1723-A.

29

(7)  Procedures which will be used regarding the suspension

30

or expulsion of pupils. Said procedures shall comply with

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1

section 1318.

2

(8)  Information on the manner in which community groups will

3

be involved in the charter school planning process.

4

(9)  The financial plan for the charter school and the

5

provisions which will be made for auditing the school under

6

section 437 and section 1728-A, including the role of any

7

charter school foundation.

8

(10)  Procedures which shall be established to review

9

complaints of parents regarding the operation of the charter

10

school.

11

(11)  A description of and address of the physical facility

12

in which the charter school will be located and the ownership

13

thereof and any lease arrangements.

14

(12)  Information on the proposed school calendar for the

15

charter school, including the length of the school day and

16

school year consistent with the provisions of section 1502.

17

(13)  The proposed faculty, if already determined, and a

18

professional development and continuing education plan for the

19

faculty and professional staff of a charter school.

20

(14)  Whether any agreements have been entered into or plans

21

developed with the local school district regarding participation

22

of the charter school students in extracurricular activities

23

within the school district. Notwithstanding any provision to the

24

contrary, no school district of residence shall prohibit a

25

student of a charter school from participating in any

26

extracurricular activity of that school district of residence:

27

Provided, That the student is able to fulfill all of the

28

requirements of participation in such activity and the charter

29

school does not provide the same extracurricular activity.

30

(15)  A report of criminal history record, pursuant to

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1

section 111, for all individuals identified in the application 

2

who shall have direct contact with students and a plan for

3

satisfying the proper criminal history record clearances

4

required for all other staff.

5

(16)  An official clearance statement regarding child injury

6

or abuse from the Department of Public Welfare as required by 23

7

Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. C.2 (relating to background checks for

8

employment in schools) for all individuals identified in the

9

application who shall have direct contact with students and a

10

plan for satisfying the proper official clearance statement

11

regarding child injury or abuse required for all other staff.

12

(17)  How the charter school will provide adequate liability

13

and other appropriate insurance for the charter school, its

14

employes and the board of trustees of the charter school.

15

(18)  Policies regarding truancy, absences and withdrawal of

16

students, including the manner in which the charter school will

17

monitor attendance consistent with section 1715-A(a)(9). 

18

(19)  How the charter school will meet the standards included

19

in the performance matrix developed by the department under

20

section 1732-A(c)(3).

21

(20)  Indicate whether or not the charter school will seek

22

accreditation by a nationally recognized accreditation agency,

23

including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

24

or another regional institutional accrediting agency recognized

25

by the United States Department of Education or an equivalent

26

federally recognized body for charter school education.

27

(b)  A local board of school directors may not impose

28

additional terms, develop its own application or require

29

additional information outside the standard application form

30

required under subsection (a).

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1

Section 9.  Section 1720-A of the act, amended July 9, 2008

2

(P.L.846, No.61), is amended to read:

3

Section 1720-A.  Term and Form of Charter.--(a)  Upon

4

approval of a charter application under section 1717-A, a

5

written charter shall be developed which shall contain the

6

provisions of the charter application and which shall be signed

7

by the local board of school directors of a school district, by

8

the local boards of school directors of a school district in the

9

case of a regional charter school or by the chairman of the

10

appeal board pursuant to section [1717-A(i)(5)] 1717-A(i) and

11

the board of trustees of the charter school. This written

12

charter, when duly signed by the local board of school directors

13

of a school district, or by the local boards of school directors

14

of a school district in the case of a regional charter school,

15

and the charter school's board of trustees, shall act as legal

16

authorization for the establishment of a charter school. This

17

written charter shall be legally binding on both the local board

18

of school directors of a school district and the charter

19

school's board of trustees. [Except as otherwise provided in

20

subsection (b), the] The charter shall be for a period of [no

21

less than three (3) nor more than] five (5) years and may be

22

renewed for [five (5)] ten (10) year periods upon

23

reauthorization by the local board of school directors of a

24

school district or the appeal board. A charter will be granted

25

only for a school organized as a public, nonprofit corporation.

26

(b)  [(1)  Notwithstanding subsection (a), a governing board

27

of a school district of the first class may renew a charter for

28

a period of one (1) year if the board of school directors

29

determines that there is insufficient data concerning the

30

charter school's academic performance to adequately assess that

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1

performance and determines that an additional year of

2

performance data would yield sufficient data to assist the

3

governing board in its decision whether to renew the charter for

4

a period of five (5) years.

5

(2)  A one-year renewal pursuant to paragraph (1) shall not

6

be considered an adjudication and may not be appealed to the

7

State Charter School Appeal Board.

8

(3)  A governing board of a school district of the first

9

class does not have the authority to renew a charter for

10

successive one (1) year periods.] (Reserved).

11

(c)  (1)  A charter school may request amendments to its

12

approved written charter by filing a written document describing

13

the requested amendment to the local board of school directors.

14

(2)  Within twenty (20) days of its receipt of the request

15

for an amendment, the local board of school directors shall hold

16

a public hearing on the requested amendment under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch.

17

7 (relating to open meetings).

18

(3)  Within twenty (20) days after the hearing, the local

19

board of school directors shall grant or deny the requested

20

amendment. Failure by the local board of school directors to

21

hold a public hearing and to grant or deny the amendments within

22

the time period specified shall be deemed a denial.

23

(4)  An applicant for an amendment shall have the right to

24

appeal the denial of a requested amendment to the appeal board

25

provided for under section 1721-A.

26

Section 10.  Section 1721-A(a) and (e) of the act, added June

27

19, 1997 (P.L.225, No.22), are amended to read:

28

Section 1721-A.  State Charter School Appeal Board.--(a)  The

29

State Charter School Appeal Board shall consist of the Secretary

30

of Education and [six (6)] the following members who shall be

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1

appointed by the Governor by and with the consent of a majority

2

of all the members of the Senate. [Appointments by the Governor

3

shall not occur prior to January 1, 1999.] The Governor shall

4

select the chairman of the appeal board to serve at the pleasure

5

of the Governor. The members shall include:

6

(1)  A parent of a school-aged child enrolled at a charter

7

school or cyber charter school.

8

(2)  A school board member.

9

(3)  A certified teacher actively employed in a public

10

school.

11

(4)  A faculty member or administrative employe of an

12

institution of higher education.

13

(5)  A member of the business community.

14

(6)  A member of the State Board of Education.

15

(7)  An administrator of a charter school or cyber charter

16

school.

17

(8)  A member of the board of trustees of a charter school or

18

cyber charter school.

19

The term of office of members of the appeal board, other than

20

the secretary, shall be for a period of four (4) years or until

21

a successor is appointed and qualified, except that, of the

22

initial appointees, the Governor shall designate two (2) members

23

to serve terms of two (2) years, two (2) members to serve terms

24

of three (3) years and two (2) members to serve terms of four

25

(4) years. A parent member appointed under subsection (a)(1)

26

shall serve a term of four (4) years as long as the member's

27

child remains enrolled in the charter school or cyber charter

28

school. Any appointment to fill any vacancy shall be for the

29

period of the unexpired term or until a successor is appointed

30

and qualified.

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1

* * *

2

(e)  Meetings of the appeal board shall be conducted under

3

[the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the

4

"Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings). 

5

Documents of the appeal board shall be subject to the act of

6

[June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as] the "Right-to-

7

Know Law."

8

Section 10.1.  Section 1722-A of the act, amended November

9

17, 2010 (P.L.966, No.104), is amended to read:

10

Section 1722-A.  Facilities.--(a)  A charter school may be

11

located in an existing public school building, in a part of an

12

existing public school building, in space provided on a

13

privately owned site, in a public building or in any other

14

suitable location.

15

(b)  The charter school facility shall be exempt from public

16

school facility regulations except those pertaining to the

17

health or safety of [the pupils] students.

18

(d)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, a

19

school district [of the first class] may, in its discretion,

20

permit a charter school to operate its school at more than one

21

location.

22

(e)  (1)  Notwithstanding the provisions of section 204 of

23

the act of May 22, 1933 (P.L.853, No.155), known as The General

24

County Assessment Law, all school property, real and personal,

25

owned by any charter school, cyber charter school or an

26

associated nonprofit foundation, or owned by a nonprofit

27

corporation, associated nonprofit corporation or nonprofit

28

foundation and leased to a charter school, cyber charter school

29

[or], associated nonprofit foundation or associated nonprofit

30

corporation at or below fair market value, that is occupied and

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1

used by any charter school or cyber charter school for public

2

school, recreation or any other purposes provided for by this

3

act, shall be made exempt from every kind of State, county,

4

city, borough, township or other real estate tax, including

5

payments in lieu of taxes established through agreement with the

6

Commonwealth or any local taxing authority, as well as from all

7

costs or expenses for paving, curbing, sidewalks, sewers or

8

other municipal improvements, Provided, That any charter school

9

or cyber charter school or owner of property leased to a charter

10

school or cyber charter school may make a municipal improvement

11

in a street on which its school property abuts or may contribute

12

a sum toward the cost of the improvement.

13

(2)  Any agreement entered into by a charter school, cyber

14

charter school [or], associated nonprofit foundation or

15

associated nonprofit corporation with the Commonwealth or a

16

local taxing authority for payments in lieu of taxes prior to

17

December 31, 2009, shall be null and void.

18

(3)  This subsection shall apply retroactively to all charter

19

schools, cyber charter schools [and], associated nonprofit

20

foundations and associated nonprofit corporations that filed an

21

appeal from an assessment, as provided in Article V of The

22

General County Assessment Law, prior to the effective date of

23

this subsection and until such time as a final order has been

24

entered.

25

(4)  For purposes of this subsection, "local taxing

26

authority" shall include, but not be limited to, a county, city,

27

borough, incorporated town, township or school district.

28

(f)  (1)  Alcoholic beverages shall not be available for

29

consumption, purchase or sale in any charter school or cyber

30

charter school facility.

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1

(2)  If the local board of school directors reasonably

2

believes that alcoholic beverages have been made available for

3

consumption, purchase or sale in any charter school or cyber

4

charter school facility, the local board of school directors

5

shall notify the department, which shall order the following

6

forfeitures against the charter school or cyber charter school:

7

(i)  A fine of $1,000 for the first violation.

8

(ii)  A fine of $5,000 for the second or subsequent

9

violation.

10

(3)  The charter school or cyber charter school may appeal

11

the order of the secretary under 2 Pa.C.S. Chs. 5 (relating to

12

practice and procedure) and 7 (relating to judicial review).

13

Section 11.  Section 1723-A(a) and (d) of the act, amended or

14

added June 26, 1999 (P.L.394, No.22) and July 9, 2008 (P.L.846,

15

No.61), are amended and the section is amended by adding

16

subsections to read:

17

Section 1723-A.  Enrollment.--(a)  All resident children in

18

this Commonwealth qualify for admission to a charter school

19

within the provisions of subsection (b). If more students apply

20

to the charter school than the number of attendance slots

21

available in the school, then students must be selected on a

22

random basis from a pool of qualified applicants meeting the

23

established eligibility criteria and submitting an application

24

by the deadline established by the charter school, except that

25

the charter school may give preference in enrollment to a child

26

of a parent who has actively participated in the development of

27

the charter school [and], to siblings of students presently

28

enrolled in the charter school and to siblings of students

29

selected for enrollment during the lottery process. First

30

preference shall be given to students who reside in the district

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1

or districts.

2

* * *

3

(d)  (1)  Enrollment of students in a charter school or cyber

4

charter school shall not be subject to a cap or otherwise

5

limited by any past or future action of a board of school

6

directors, a board of control established under Article XVII-B,

7

a special board of control established under section 692 or any

8

other governing authority[, unless agreed to by the charter