Modified Charter Schools Bill Could Rush Through House Friday

Originally published on March 3, 2017 11:57 am

With the clock ticking on this year’s General Assembly, a charter schools bill will be given its first hearing in a legislative committee on Friday and House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the measure will likely be heard on the House Floor for a potential vote later in the day.

Hoover said he’s confident the bill will pass despite past disagreements among Republicans over crucial parts of the legislation.

“We built a consensus for it, it’s what we’ve been working on for many weeks as you all know,” he said. “This morning, we were able to finally bring everyone together and realize we think we’ve got a good plan and we’re ready to move forward with it.”

In its current form, the legislation would allow non-profit or for-profit organizations to create new charter schools with the permission of a local school district or the state Department of Education.

Hoover indicated that Rep. Bam Carney, chairman of the House Education Committee, would present a new version of the bill on Friday morning. He provided no specifics of the legislation except that a provision for online charter schools has likely been removed.

House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, a Democrat from Sandy Hook, criticized the speed with which the modified charter bill would be brought to a vote.

“I would encourage us, especially on that issue, that we take our time,” Adkins said, calling the legislation “an unbelievable policy change in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

There are no geographic caps or limits to the number of charters in the state under the current version of the bill.

Organizations applying for charters would have to seek approval with the local school district where they wish to locate. If the local district denies the application, it could be appealed to the state.

School districts would be in charge of monitoring the academic and financial health of charter schools and contracts could be revoked immediately if the school district finds that the organizations threaten the health and safety of their own students.

Thursday is the 23rd day of the legislative session, which lasts 30 days. Lawmakers have several recess days and a designated veto period for the governor before the legislative session gavels out on March 30.

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