As expected, members approved a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) Amendment at this morning’s meeting of the House Education Committee. The bill, not yet available online, includes several changes to the biill adopted by the Senate, SB-8. The major changes include:
Limits the number of new charter schools per year to fifty.
(The previous bill included no limits on the number of charters.)
Allows local public schools to keep locally-derived funds. That is money from school fund-raisers or grants designated to a specific district or school will not be included in the calculation of local operating expense funds. Therefore the funds are not subject to equitable division with charter schools. Charters would still receive a share of transportation funds, Smart Start or other funds that are generally received by all districts. (Under previous version of SB-8 charter schools all funding sources were included in calculating per student distributions.)
Schools are required to have a minimal enrollment of 50.
(The current minimal enrollment for a charter school is 65.)
It is also interesting to note what the PCS doesn’t change. Counties can still provide monies to charter schools for capital expenses, if they so choose. The PCS includes no real changes to the composition and responsibilities of the Public Schools Charter Commission, nor additional requirements to force charter schools to offer transportation services or free lunch.
Members will likely study the new PCS and offer amendments at the next meeting. The conventional wisdom is a floor vote isn’t likely before next week.