The new edition of a bill removing the cap on charter schools would permit cities and counties to contribute to the capital needs of charter schools. The bill, introduced by Republican Senator Richard Stevens, would also allow the use of lottery proceeds for charter schools. The bill is in the Senate Education Committee.
But those applying to open a new charter school must post a $100,000 bond with a newly established Public Charter Schools Commission. That panel would have the sole authority to aprove and regulate charter schools. It would not come under the umbrella of the State Board of Education.
Charter schools would not have to reflect the diversity of the population where they are located. Democrats on the Senate Education Committee argued the bill would allow charter schools to become a tool for resegregating schools. Stevens pointed some public schools already are not under the control of the State Board of Education.
Charter schools would not be required to provide transportation or free and reduced lunches. Leanne Winner with the School Boards Association told the committee that would limit which children could attend charter schools. But Darrell Allison with the organization Parents for Educational Freedom said removing the cap would allow many more families to take advantage of an alternative to their current school. He said there were thousands of children on waiting lists. A mother said her fifth grade daughter had been on a waiting list for two years. The schools would also no longer be limited to a 10% growth rate.
The committee did not vote on the bill but the chairman said it would consider amendments and possibly vote on the proposal next Wednesday (Feb 9).