Bill to allow persistently low-achieving schools to become charter schools passes Senate committee
03/20/2014 04:11 PM
A bill to set up the framework for charter schools in Kentucky moved forward Thursday when it passed the Senate Education Committee on a party line vote.
Senate Bill 216, which would allow a local board of education to designate a persistently low-achieving school as a charter school and solicit applications for a governing board, passed 7-4 with no votes being cast by the four Democratic Senators on the committee.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said that the bill is about giving struggling school districts another option to turn things around.
“You know they’ve already exercised a restaffing option, transformation option,” Wilson said. “It’s either close the school or have it be taken over by an outside agency. Why not give them one more option which would be charter schools.”
Teachers unions such as the Jefferson County Teachers Association have come out against the legislation.
Brent McKim, president of JCTA says his organization does not want to see public schools privatized.
“We do not believe we should have a corporate takeover of public schools by for-profit companies that aren’t even in our commonwealth,” McKim said. “They don’t know our kids, they don’t know our parents and they don’t know our communities.”
Democratic Senator Gerald Neal voted against the bill because he said charter schools would not be a quick fix for the state’s education issues and blames the state legislature for underfunding education in the commonwealth.
“We have underfunded the system,” Neal said. “Now what we’re doing is looking for some other methodology.”
Similar bills have been passed in previous sessions by the Senate only to die in the House.
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