Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bill to establish charter school option in Kentucky set for first hearing in 2015 General Assembly

This from KSBA:

The education committee of the Kentucky Senate is scheduled to debate a bill filed by its chairman to allow creation of charter schools as an educational option in the state. But Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, a longtime charter school concept supporter, on Wednesday reaffirmed his opposition to at least two elements of the bill.

SB 8, filed by Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) is up for a hearing during the panel’s 11:30 a.m. ET meeting Thursday. The meeting takes place in the Capitol Annex Room 171.

Wilson’s bill would allow the establishment of charter schools in Kentucky, one of eight states that currently does not authorize charter schools. Elements of the 53-page bill would create rules for charter operations, enrollment and employment rules, and create a Kentucky Public Charter School Commission to rule on charter school applications. The commission would also oversee a trust fund, through which it would accept "conbtributions, gifts, donations, appropriations, and any other mones made available" for operation of the agency.

During Wednesday’s Kentucky Board of Education meeting in Frankfort, Holliday reaffirmed his long-standing support for charter schools in concept. But he also spelled out segments of Wilson’s bill that he won’t support.

“I support parental engagement and I support programs that improve student learning. If a school board is the authorizer of the charters, I support charters. I have not supported a public commission on charters, which would take authority away from the Kentucky Board of Education,” Holliday said. “I think it would add a redundancy to state bureaucracy. I think it would be costly at a time when we don’t have enough money to operate what we’ve got. Another public commission would be problematic. (But) I do support charters if local boards are the authorizers.”

While the KBE did not take a position on SB 8, longtime member and former state senator David Karem said legislators should be hearing from leaders of local public school systems on the impact of the bill.

“With the shrinking populations and the competitions between some of the independent and county school systems, they’re grappling desperately for resources just to adequately do what they have to do today, and then you throw into that charters, I don’t know how some of the smaller school districts could survive. You’d think legislators in those areas would be hearing from their local school boards, albeit independent school boards or county school boards, (saying) ‘Do you understand what we are faced with today? To spend off independent schools would be very problematic.'”

KBE Chairman Roger Marcum, a former superintendent, added, “It seems to me that our goal at the state should be, where we are having success, to try to replicate that success, looking at evidence-based models of what makes a difference for kids. That’s a good starting point. “

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