§ 16-3.2-3. Procedure for creation of an empowerment school.
(a) The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall develop a process for a public school, with the approval of its superintendent and school committee, to be designated as an empowerment school with the duties, responsibilities, and autonomies set forth in this chapter. Said process shall also address the manner in which a school and its school committee can convert an empowerment school back to a traditional public school. No existing public school shall be converted into an empowerment school or back to a traditional public school unless two-thirds (2/3) of the full-time professional staff currently assigned to the eligible entity described in § 16-3.2-4 approve the proposal. The empowerment school application process and timeline shall be determined by the commissioner and include information including, but not limited to, the vision for the empowerment school; the means it will use to improve school performance and student achievement; performance criteria that will be used to measure student learning at least sufficient to participate in the state accountability plan; a plan for the governance, administration, and operation of the empowerment school; whether the school will be funded via §§ 16-3.2-7 and 16-7.2-5 or through an alternative written agreement between the superintendent and the principal of the empowerment school; and the state statutes, state regulations, contract provisions, and school district rules from which variances or waivers are sought in order to facilitate operation of the empowerment school. The application shall include a description of the authority of the principal and how employment decisions of the principal would impact the teacher and staff assignment process within a school district.
In order to facilitate statewide innovation, approved empowerment school plans shall be posted publicly.
(b) Upon deeming an application to be satisfactory, the superintendent and school committee shall transmit its approval of the designation to the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, who shall then register the school as an empowerment school subject to the duties, responsibilities, and autonomies of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall require an empowerment school to include all of the provisions of this chapter in its locally approved plan. In other words, empowerment plans may include only a locally determined subset of the provisions made possible by this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the creation of school-based amendment to the district collective bargaining agreement, as defined in § 16-3.2-4(f), to incorporate all or part of the empowerment plan into the local collective bargaining agreement.
(c) If the designation of an empowerment school is approved by the superintendent and school committee, it shall be authorized to operate for a period of up to three (3) years. The empowerment school plan may be modified as necessary during its period of authorization and may be renewed for increments up to three (3) years utilizing the same process outlined herein for initial designation and registration.
(d) Upon registration of the empowerment school designation by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the commissioner shall be deemed to have authorized all necessary variances from statutes and regulations enumerated in the application.
(P.L. 2016, ch. 142, art. 11, § 7.)