Magazine article Risk Management

Charter School Risk Management

Magazine article Risk Management

Charter School Risk Management

Article excerpt

The charter school movement, which began in 1990 with the idea that the exclusive franchise of the public school system had failed many students, has become a significant presence in the U.S. educational system. More than two thousand schools, with more than four hundred thousand students, operate under various types of charters in thirty-eight states. These schools are publicly funded, with charters granted by state boards of education, universities and colleges, and local school boards. Charter schools are strictly supervised and held to high levels of accountability: A school's charter can be revoked if it does not live up to the original stipulations of its charter.

Most of the risk management and insurance issues facing charter schools are the same that traditional public schools face: risk assessment, teacher screening, liability insurance for Parent Teacher Organizations, medical and benefits insurance, design of 403B plans and premises security. But because charters generally fall outside the system that provides risk management and insurance services to traditional public schools, there is a particular need to identify, measure and manage their exposures to both property and casualty losses.

Other issues that set charter schools apart from publicly funded schools include:

Finding appropriate buildings in which to operate. In the early 1990s, some charter schools were able to take over old buildings no longer used by other schools. The current growth in the school-age population means that fewer old buildings are available to charter schools, resulting in a surge of new construction, especially for charter schools.

Nonunionized teachers. As the number of charter school teachers grows, teachers' unions will increasingly challenge their nonunionized colleagues and pressure them to join the union. For the nonunionized charter schools to attract teachers and avoid union defections, charters must be able offer benefits and insurance coverages that are comparable to those at traditional public schools.

Serving traditionally underserved students. Charter schools structure their curricula, operations and instruction to reflect the needs of children that often fall through the cracks in local school districts, including at-risk, minority and low-income children, teen parents, court-adjudicated youth and disabled students. Premises security, special needs facilities and other issues faced by traditional public schools are intensified at many charter schools.

Meeting the needs of highly gifted students. …

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