Act 1227 of 2013, which established the Public School Choice Act of 2013, went into effect on April 16, 2013. The Act includes the following deadlines:
April 1 School districts notify the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) if they wish to declare an exemption from participation in the Public School Choice Act of 2013. June 1 Students/parents apply for school choice to a nonresident district (with a copy of the application to the resident district). June 1 The ADE reports to each school district the net maximum number of school choice transfers for the current school year. August 1 The superintendent of the nonresident district notifies the parent and resident district of the acceptance or denial of a school choice application. A copy of the Act is attached to this memorandum (Attachment 1). Because the deadlines set forth in the Act are important for the appropriate and orderly administration of the Public School Choice Act of 2013, it is necessary for the ADE to provide the following non-regulatory guidance: Notice of Exemption As noted above, Act 1227 did not become effective until April 16, 2013. However, the Act sets April 1 as the date by which a school district must notify the ADE of its intention to declare an exemption for participation in public school choice under the Act. The ADE will not attempt to reestablish a deadline that is set in law. However, so school districts and the ADE can properly administer all aspects of Act 1227 in an orderly fashion and so that parents, students, patrons and school district leaders may be aware of those school districts which are subject to desegregation orders or federal agency mandates remedying the effects of past racial segregation, the ADE requests that school districts notify the ADE of any exemption by Friday, May 17, 2013. School districts should mail such exemptions to: Office of the Commissioner ATTN: Arkansas Public School Choice Act Four Capitol Mall Little Rock, AR 72201 Contemporaneous with notice to the ADE, the ADE also requests that school districts notify the superintendents of each of their geographically contiguous school districts of the exemption. Please note that Act 1227 does not provide the ADE the authority to rule a particular exemption valid or invalid. However, the Act does allow for such exemptions if “the school district is subject to the desegregation order or mandate of a federal court or agency remedying the effects of past racial segregation.” The ADE will post a list of school districts that declare an exemption on its website. Application Act 1227 sets June 1 as the date by which students or parents must apply for school choice. The application form must be approved by the Department of Education. At its May 13, 2013, meeting, the State Board of Education will consider emergency rules to administer Act 1227. An application form will be attached to the emergency rules. An application form is also attached to this memorandum. (Attachment 2). School districts should use this application form until such time as the State Board of Education provides a new or revised form. Any school choice applications submitted by students or parents prior to the date of this memorandum should be affixed to the back of the attached form and maintained within the records of the resident and nonresident school districts. Net Maximum Number of Transfers Act 1227 established “a numerical net maximum limit on school choice transfers each school year from a school district, less any school choice transfers into the district . . . of not more than three percent (3%) of the school district’s three-quarter average daily membership for the immediately preceding school year.” The Act also requires the ADE to report to school districts, by June 1, the net maximum number of school choice transfers for the current year. Because the 2013-2014 school year will be the first school year during which Act 1227 will be effective, the ADE will provide to school districts a calculation of each district’s three-quarter average daily membership for the 2012-2013 school year, along with a number that represents three percent (3%) of that three-quarter average daily membership. Complete three-quarter average daily membership numbers for the 2012-2013 school year are not yet available. However, the ADE compiled the attached spreadsheet based upon information currently available. (Attachment 3). While the data is not yet complete, school districts may refer to the attached spreadsheet for planning and administration purposes.