Charter School Bill Regains Momentum

Mar 2, 2017

A charter school bill is back on track in the Kentucky General Assembly, according to its sponsor. Earlier indications this week suggested the measure had hit roadblocks.

Update:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) Republican leaders say they have reached an agreement on a bill to allow charter schools in Kentucky.

The House Education Committee will have a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to vote on the bill. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the House of Representatives will vote on the bill later that day and send it to the Senate.

House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins loudly objected, saying lawmakers need more time to study the proposal before voting on it.

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate independent of the local school district. Supporters say the schools would provide more options for parents and students while opponents say they would drain resources from traditional public schools.

House Bill 520, a high priority Republican measure permitting school boards to authorize an unlimited number charter schools in their districts, appeared stalled in the House Education Committee in recent days, but committee chair and bill author Rep. John Carney says negotiations broke through on a key issue.

He told reporters Thursday inter-district financing - allowing dollars to follow students who attend charters outside their home district - had raised eyebrows among some lawmakers.

"When you're talking about tax dollars going from outside a district into another one, that's totally a fair question and we've been trying to find the right mix and balance," Carney reported. "We're still talking with members that had some concerns, but all indications are that we've really made a great of progress in the last 24 hours, which was probably one of the biggest sticking points."

Carney said an updated bill would keep local money from traveling outside the district, and he expects to hear the revised version in committee during a late meeting Friday.

"I'm not going to pass a bill just to say we passed one. I want to make sure that it's one that's a strong bill that will help Kentucky's children and parents, and also listening to all the groups that have concerns and be fair to them," Carney said.

Despite just eight working days remaining in the session, the Campbellsville Republican now describes the passage of charter school legislation this session as "very likely."

For more information on charter schools, check out NPR's Just What IS A Charter School, Anyway?