Fate of both charter and neighborhood schools bills still uncert - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fate of both charter and neighborhood schools bills still uncertain

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The clock is rapidly winding down on the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

And that means time is running out on two controversial bills that could affect education in the Commonwealth.

Supporters of charter schools are still optimistic that House Bill 520 can pass in the final days of this session, but the fate of the neighborhood schools bill, HB 151, appears less certain.

Charter school opponents held a rally in the Capitol rotunda Monday to try and keep up the pressure.

“Not this way, not this bill, not this session,” Lucy Waterbury told a small group that had gathered for the event.

 HB 520 sailed through the House but has stalled in the Senate, in part because of concerns raised by the opposition.

“We don't need to rush a bill that is so important when it comes to public education," said Gay Adelmann, founder of Save Our Schools Kentucky. "We don't want to create a situation where we've harmed our public schools because we didn't think certain things through."

But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working to craft a final compromise.

The chair of the Senate Education Committee says everything is on the table and in flux as lawmakers race to meet a Wednesday deadline set by House Speaker Jeff Hoover.

“I think we can get there,” said Sen. Mike Wilson (D-Bowling Green.) “As we're working on everything, there are things that we see. If we can get an agreement on everything, I think we can get there.”

Meantime, House Bill 151 may get lost in the shuffle.

“Everywhere you go, the charter schools bill takes the oxygen out of the room, as far as education is concerned," said bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville.) "There might be some competing forces going on. We'll just have to wait and see."

The bill, which would allow students to attend the school closest to their home, also passed the House. But the Senate version may limit the bill to elementary students in Jefferson County.

“If that's what they come up with, we'll look at it and proceed from there,” Bratcher said.

With just four working days left in the session, time is running out on both bills.

“We are hoping that it has whimpered its last whimper for this session,” Adelmann said.

Both bills can pass the Education Committee and get a vote on the Senate floor the same day. So, until the final gavel falls, both sides will continue to apply pressure.

Related Stories:

JCPS board chair says Mayor Fischer's support of charter schools felt like a betrayal

Charter schools bill passes committee, moves on to full Kentucky House

Opponents of neighborhood schools bill call it 'shortcut to nowhere'

SUNDAY EDITION | For JCPS, 'neighborhood schools' bill would force big changes, unforeseen consequences

Revised neighborhood schools bill would 'shake up' JCPS student assignment plan

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