UPDATE: Kentucky lawmakers give final passage to charter school bill

Gov. Andy Beshear says he will veto the legislation

UPDATE:  (MARCH 29, 2022)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky’s Republican-run legislature has signaled it’s ready to put charter schools to the test.

A bill paving the way for charter schools to open on a pilot basis won final passage in the Senate on Tuesday.

It sets up a policy showdown with Gov. Andy Beshear. The Democratic governor has vowed to veto it.

The bill’s supporters pushed the proposal through in time to ensure lawmakers can take up a veto override before the legislative session ends.

The bill creates a permanent funding stream for charters.

The legislature authorized charter schools in 2017 but none have been created in Kentucky.

 

UPDATE: (MARCH 28, 2022)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Monday the Senate Education Committee passed House Bill 9.

This new measure would set up public funding for Charter Schools in the state using ‘SEEK’ dollars, which is the main source of funding for Kentucky’s school districts.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Chad McCoy, of Bardstown, says some changes the bill would make to the application process, include the Kentucky Department of Education providing technical assistance if requested, KDE would have to explain why it granted or denied an application, and the bill would provide protection for smaller school districts.

Supporters say charter schools give families choice, while opponents say they take money away from public schools…ultimately hurting the students.

“We’re not asking you to create a private school for these children, but to create the mechanism for them to get the best education that they can” said Louisville Pastor, Jerry Stevenson.

“Please hear us, work with us, and not against us by handing over critical resources to an unproven system” said President of Fayette County Education Association, Jessica Hiler.

The bill requires at least two charter schools be created as pilot projects supervised by the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Northern Kentucky University, that would report back on the model.

The bill  now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Gov. Andy Beshear has said he’ll veto the bill if it gets to his desk.  By passing it this week, lawmakers could mount a veto override vote.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (PRESS RELEASE/MARCH 1st, 2022) – Five years after Kentucky’s General Assembly passed legislation allowing charter schools, Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, filed a bill today that could finally allow some to open in the Bluegrass State. Missing from the 2017 law was a mechanism to fund the public schools, and House Bill 9 creates that mechanism and makes some other important improvements to the original bill as well.

“For five years, Kentucky families have waited for the opportunity to attend a free, innovative public charter school,” said Heather Huddleston, director of education policy for the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions. “I’m so grateful to Rep. McCoy for stepping forward and working hard to develop a robust charter school policy which will truly result in the creation and success of many of these public schools of choice.”

House Bill 9 not only provides a funding mechanism for SEEK dollars to follow students to public charters but also expands authorizers beyond the local and state school boards to include a new statewide commission, public and non-public four year universities, all mayors and the option of a non-profit organization approved by the State Board of Education. Applications that are denied can now be appealed to either the State Board of Education or the new Commission.

Charter schools can be started anywhere in the state, but in a district with fewer than 5,000 enrolled students, the charter application must also have a signed Memorandum of Understanding from the local school board.

Charter schools are public schools which have contracts with authorizers in which they detail (in their charters) how schools will be organized and managed, what students will achieve and how success will be measured in exchange for freedom from many of the laws and regulations to which most conventional public schools must adhere.

“A strong and meaningful charter school policy is a high priority of the Bluegrass Institute because it empowers parents with an educational alternative that will place many Kentucky students who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks of our public education system on a path to a brighter future,” Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters said.

Most of the 3.3 million public charter school students in America are from low-income and/or minority homes. In Pennsylvania, for example, minority students make up more than 65% of that state’s public charter school enrollment.

“Charters will help level the playing field, ensure diversity and serve as a catalyst for change, particularly in Kentucky’s disadvantaged communities,” Huddleston said.

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