I emailed Kate Pattison with the ODE asking her if we can email her a copy of our written notice of approval from Lowell. She said that would work and to also include the timeline for projected opening. I also asked her the following.
We are getting ready to enter into contract negotiations with the Lowell School District. I’ve read through the May 2013 released version of the Charter School Handbook and ORS 338, but I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly is negotiable from the sponsors perspective. For example the proposal sets the contracted payment at 95%, can the sponsor attempt to change this after the proposal has been approved?
The main question I have is what does it mean that they agreed to our proposal? Does this commit them to the items listed in it? Or does it mean that they have agreed to start contract negotiations?
Here is her response:
Good questions. Generally when a board approves a charter proposal they are stating a certain level agreement to details within the proposal. However, everything can be negotiated. Nothing is final until signed.
The law states a minimum, so the district cannot pay less. But they don’t have to pay more. You probably have a stronger case for what you proposed if the board is not on the record with any concerns or questions about financial stability at a lower rate. However, the negotiations will determine the outcome.
If you don’t have a knowledgeable charter school lawyer, I highly recommend that you get one for this process. The initial charter contract will set the trajectory and tone for the future of the charter school. There are a few that have a lot of experience and will help guide you through the process. Two that come to mind are Matt Lowe or Deborah Dyson.
This means that the proposal is basically just a proposal, and approval of the proposal means that the school district is agreeing to enter into contract negotiations with you. Either side can negotiate changes in the proposal during contract negotiations.