A scaled-down version of a controversial bill to allow charter schools in Kentucky is returning to the General Assembly this year, but supporters and opponents say it has little chance of winning approval in the House. House Bill 76 would authorize a five-year pilot program for up to 75 of the schools that would receive public funding based on student enrollment, but wouldn’t have to adhere to many of the regulations governing traditional public schools.
Rep. Brad Montell, a Shelbyville Republican who has sponsored similar bills the past four years, said he is softening last year’s measure, which did not establish a cap on the number of authorized charters and died in the House Education Committee. Still, Montell said he is not optimistic that the bill will pass.
“I don’t see that a lot has changed in the mood of the House when it comes to charter schools,” he said. “What we want to do is just continue to keep this issue out there.”
Kentucky is among about eight states that do not allow charter schools.
HB 76 would create a Kentucky Public Charter School Commission, allowing it, or local school boards, to authorize charters beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.
Montell said the bill limits the number of new charters to 15 per year and requires half of all charters to be located within a three-mile radius of schools where at least 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. It would also mandate that charter schools meet state performance standards or face closure.
Last year’s charter school bill received a hearing in the House Education Committee. But House Education Chairman Carl Rollins said committee members overwhelmingly opposed the measure at the time and Montell and others requested he not call for a vote.
“I don’t think my committee is going to change very drastically,” Rollins, D-Midway, said Wednesday...