A bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky will get a hearing in the House Education Committee. Chairman Carl Rollins has set February 14th as the hearing date, but that could change if the deadline for candidates to file to run for General Assembly seats is pushed back again. Rollins still doesn’t support charter schools, but thinks it's time for the bill to be discussed.
“I’m allowing it to be heard because it’s time to have the discussion," Rollins says. "I don’t think the prospects are good for it in my committee, but I hate to predict what my committee will do cause I can be surprised sometimes.”
Rollins has sponsored his own bill that would create charter-like districts of innovation across Kentucky. The measure has already cleared committee. And while Rollins’s bill works inside the current system and charters don’t, Rollins says both could become law without conflicting.
“So you know if we did Districts of Innovation that could still exist and some districts may want to use that," he says. "If the charter schools did pass some districts may, well some may just appear, districts may not have much to do with it.”
Opponents of charter schools say they drain too much money from other regular public schools and can’t promise educational improvement.
Advocates of the legislation say Kentucky’s system is too broken not to try charter schools, which are successful in some areas. Those same advocates say Rollins’s innovation bill doesn’t go far enough.
One group supporting charter schools, Kentuckians Advocating Reforms in Education (KARE), has been airing TV ads in support of the issue. KARE and other charter school groups recently held a rally in the Capitol Rotunda supporting the measure.