1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Hawks, Minor
Senate Bill 2702
AN ACT ENTITLED THE "MISSISSIPPI LOCAL SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE ACT"; TO AUTHORIZE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO APPROVE AND ENTER INTO CONTRACTS WITH PETITIONERS ON BEHALF OF LOCAL SCHOOLS FOR SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE STATUS, UNDER WHICH SUCH SCHOOL IS LOCALLY MANAGED AND EXEMPT FROM ANY GOVERNMENTAL REGULATION OR STATUTE RELATING TO THE MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS; TO PRESCRIBE THE CONTENTS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN LOCAL SCHOOLS' PETITIONS REQUESTING SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE STATUS; TO PROVIDE THAT IF THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD DISAPPROVES THE PETITION, IT SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE ELECTORS OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR A REFERENDUM ON THE PROPOSITION IN THE SAME MANNER AS SCHOOL BOND ELECTIONS ARE HELD; TO PROVIDE THAT SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE SHALL BE FUNDED IN THE SAME MANNER AS OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be entitled and may be cited as the "Mississippi Local Schools of Excellence Act."
SECTION 2. It is the intent of the Legislature that this act provides a means whereby the right of the people of Mississippi to control and govern the local public schools of this state shall not be abridged.
SECTION 3. For purposes of this act, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "School of Excellence Contract" means an academic or vocational, or both, contract between the State Board of Education, the school board of the local school district, and a local school which exempts the school from rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the State Board of Education and the local school district and, except as otherwise provided, the provisions of Title 37 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 which are applicable to schools and school districts and their employees and students.
(b) "School of Excellence" means a school that is operating under the terms of a School of Excellence Contract granted by the local school board.
(c) "Local school" means a public school in Mississippi which is under the management and control of the school board of the school district in which the school is located.
(d) "Petition" means a proposal to enter into a contract between the local school board and a local school whereby the local school obtains School of Excellence status.
SECTION 4. (1) The residents of any Mississippi public school district shall have the right to pursue excellence in their local public schools by creating and submitting proposals for management of their local public schools under a School of Excellence Contract. The residents of any such school district, on behalf of a local school, may submit a petition to the school board of the school district in which the school is located, and the school board may approve or disapprove the petition.
(2) If the local school board declines to approve the petition, the petition shall automatically be submitted to the electors of the affected school district for approval or rejection in the same manner that propositions for school bond issues are submitted, as follows: The school board shall adopt a resolution calling an election to be held within such school district for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors thereof the question of the granting of a School of Excellence Contract for the particular school in the district. The resolution calling such election shall designate the date upon which the election shall be held and the place or places within such district at which such election shall be held, which place or places may or may not be the school or school buildings of the district. Where an election has been called as provided herein, notice of such election shall be signed by the president of the school board and shall be published once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks, in at least one (1) newspaper published in such school district. The first publication of such notice shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days prior to the date fixed for such election, and the last publication shall be made not more than seven (7) days prior to such date. If no newspaper is published in such school district, then such notice shall be given by publishing the same for the required time in some newspaper having a general circulation in such school district. At such election, all qualified electors of such school district may vote. The ballots used at such election shall have printed thereon a brief statement of the purpose of the petition and its effect on the particular school, and the words "FOR THE SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE CONTRACT," and "AGAINST THE SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE CONTRACT." The voter shall vote by placing a cross (X) or check mark (U) opposite his choice on the proposition. When the results of the election on the question of the School of Excellence Contract shall have been canvassed by the election commissioners of such county or municipality, and certified by them to the school board of the school district, it shall be the duty of such school board to determine and adjudicate whether or not three-fifths (3/5) of the qualified electors who voted in such election voted in favor of the petition. Unless three-fifths (3/5) of the qualified electors who voted in such election shall have voted in favor of the petition, then such contract shall not be approved. Should three-fifths (3/5) of the qualified electors who vote in such election vote in favor of the petition, then the School of Excellence Contract shall be approved, to become effective and implemented within one (1) year from the date of such election, at a date deemed best by the school board.
(3) In order to be accepted by a local school board or by referendum of the electors as provided in subsection (2), any petition shall contain the following provisions:
(a) A feasible business plan for the fiscal, administrative, personnel and legal management of the School of Excellence;
(b) A description of the curriculum and courses of study to be pursued at the School of Excellence;
(c) A description of the accountability measures and methods of assessment to be used at the School of Excellence;
(d) A description of the legal plans for the proper bonding of school officials to assure compliance with financial auditing requirements imposed on all public schools by state law; and
(e) A provision to exempt the school from the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the State Board of Education and the local school board and from the provisions of Title 37 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 which are applicable to schools and school districts and their employees and students, unless otherwise provided by law.
(4) A petition shall not be disapproved by a local school board for any of the following reasons:
(a) Because the petition would allow for the enrollment of any student who desires to attend the School of Excellence;
(b) Because compensation of administrators and teachers of the School of Excellence would be based in whole or in part on performance;
(c) Because the School of Excellence would hire experts in different subjects to teach in their areas of expertise regardless of whether those experts have teaching certificates or other government permission to teach; or
(d) Because of a substantial reduction in government regulations or paperwork requirements.
(5) State and federal funding for Schools of Excellence managed under petitions submitted and approved under this section shall be in the same amount and by use of the same funding formulas as would be applied to any public school and without regard to the fact that the school is subject to local control as a School of Excellence, and not under the jurisdiction of the local school board.
(6) No local school board shall impose a more restrictive procedure for the submission of petitions for the establishment of local Schools of Excellence that are established by the Legislature in this section.
SECTION 5. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi is directed to submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.