P. O. BOX 2120
May 29, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Charter Schools 

During the 1998 session of the General Assembly, two charter
school bills were passed.  House Bill 543 and Senate Bill 318,
which are identical, have been approved by Governor Gilmore.

It is our intent to develop a question-and-answer document that
will help define the parameters of the legislation and guide
superintendents as they work with school boards and charter
school applicants.  Based on the new law, only local school
boards can grant charters, so the Department of Education will
not be involved in reviewing applications or making
recommendations about issuing charters.  However, the Department
will provide technical assistance as superintendents develop
procedures for approving charter schools.  In addition, we will
be a source for information about data that must be reported
annually to the Board of Education to be summarized in reports to
the Governor and the General Assembly.

We anticipate that in June the Board of Education will approve a
process for reviewing regulations which charter schools may not
have to meet.  Any release from state regulations must be
requested from the Board of Education by the local school board
issuing the charter.

Questions have been asked concerning federal charter school
funds.  The federal grants for charter schools are competitive,
and we expect to clarify the process for requesting these funds
in the next few weeks.  Superintendents will be notified as soon
as this process is determined.  Federal funds are granted for
post-award planning and design of educational programs in charter
schools.  A local school board must approve the charter agreement
before the school's management committee can apply for federal
funds.  For more information on the federal program, visit

Attached to this memorandum is a copy of the charter school
legislation.  Also, we are forwarding a list of the requirements
for the charter school program arranged by various topics.  If
you have questions or require additional information, please
contact Yvonne Thayer in Policy and Public Affairs at 804-786-5392.


Attachments:   A hard copy of this memo and its attachments will
               be sent to the superintendent's office