SB-8, the bill that removes the charter school cap and sets up a commission to authorize and administer charter schools is up for a second reading in the State Senate today. Yesterday in a crowded hearing room, the Senate Education Committee approved a committe substitute to SB-8 and defeated an amendment offered by Democrats that would require future charters to provide transportation and food to low income students.
The new bill creates an 11 member Public Charter Schools Commission. The commission would approve charter applications and revoke the charters of poorly performing schools. The commission will operate independently of the State Board of Education or the Department of Public Instruction. However also included in the bill is langauge that allows the State Board of Education to overturn any decision by the commission with a three-quarters vote of the board. That provision was not in earlier versions of the bill and was likely included to ward off constitutional challenges.
This isn’t a perfect bill. But, in its current form it’s probably good enough for most charters to live with. It removes the cap, helps charter finances and strengthens accountability; all good things.
There are currently 20,000 students are charter school waiting lists. Let’s hope the progress continues.