Charter schools bill passed by Senate, House heads to Gov. Bevin's desk

03/15/2017 06:33 PM

FRANKFORT – Legislation which would authorize public charter schools throughout Kentucky was passed by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

House Bill 520, sponsored by Rep. Bam Carney, R-Campbellsville, passed by a 23-15 vote with all Democrats, along Republicans Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, Sen. C.B. Embry, R-Morgantown, Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, and Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, casting no votes.

The House later passed the bill on a 53-43 vote, sending it to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk.

A lot of floor debate in the Senate centered around the funding mechanism in the bill, or lack of it, for the charter schools.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, asked Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg if there was any language in the bill that addressed the funding of the charter schools.

“That conversation is something that we will be taking up but this matter does not speak to the question of funding,” Givens said.

McGarvey responded by pleading with members of the body to vote no because of some details which are not in the legislation.

“We don’t know where the funding is coming from,” McGarvey said. “I’m not asking this body to be against charter schools, I’m asking you to be against this bill authorizing charter schools.”

Lawmakers later passed a omnibus appropriations bill that included funding for public charter schools on a per-pupil basis, with school districts also responsible for transportation costs.

Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, was concerned about the possible negative impact on the states public schools in terms of financing.

“Today, ladies and gentleman, we are taking a major step back,” Jones said. “Any money that would go to a charter school created by this legislation, can only come from one source, it will come from the same pot of money that is used to fund every public school in Kentucky.”

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, supported the legislation saying that mechanisms will be in place to closely measure the effectiveness and success of charter schools
in the state.

“This unique flexibility is followed by strong accountability and high standards, so under performing charter schools can be closed while those that consistently help students succeed can serve a models to other public schools,” McDaniel said.

Sen. Gerald Neal requested to suspend the rules and add 12 amendments to the bill but that attempt was defeated with a roll call vote that fell down party lines.

“I’ve got to tell you, I resent it,” Neal said. “How could you, on such an important issue.”


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