Charter school supporters try new approach in General Assembly - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Charter school supporters try new approach in General Assembly

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's a new effort to change the public school system in Kentucky. Supporters of charter schools are trying a new approach to get approval from the legislature.

This latest bill would allow school districts to experiment, to set up pilot charter school programs.

Charter schools are public schools that are given more flexibility when it comes to issues such as curriculum, discipline and class size. Each school is governed by its own independent board.

Supporters say it's what Kentucky's public schools need to improve.  "We're missing a lot of the students. There's a gap that needs to be filled. We're simply not meeting that challenge with traditional schools," said Rep. Brad Montell, a Shelby Co. Republican.

Parents we talked to outside Central High School liked the charter school concept.  Among the responses:

"I think it's awesome. I think it would be a good program for all the kids."

"I believe that they should try. You never know. It might work for Kentucky. I think it should be OK. I'm for it."

"It would be worth something to try. Maybe it would keep more of them in school."

But the bill faces tough sledding, particularly in the Democratic-controlled House. It's opposed by the teachers unions.

"There are some real issues from a practical standpoint," said Rep. Reggie Meeks, a Democrat from Louisville.

Meeks says Kentucky's public schools are already improving, moving up the national rankings. He's concerned that charter schools would blunt that momentum.

"Given the limited resources, given the forward movement, given the additional focus on accountability that the public is putting on our public school system, why would we want to move away from that," said Meeks.

But supporters are hoping that allowing for a limited 5-year pilot program might help gain support.

"We thought it might be more palatable, if you will, to those who have concerns; to come with a slower approach so that we can make sure that we can see the results of the charters as they come on," said Montell.

The charter school bill may not even get a full House vote in this short session. But proponents say they'll keep pushing until they succeed.

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