JCPS officials argue for stronger legislation for charter school - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS officials argue for stronger legislation for charter schools

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS officials joined Democratic lawmakers Tuesday in an effort to make sure charter schools benefit both students and taxpayers.

There are only four working days left in the General Assembly, and some lawmakers say they want to make sure the bill benefits taxpayers and students before it is rushed into law.

The fight is no longer to stop charter schools. The battle now from those who oppose House Bill 520 is to at least make changes to it.

"This is no longer about whether one supports charter schools or not," said JCPS board member Chris Kolb. "This is about House Bill 520 and the many holes that exist in House Bill 520."

House Bill 520 passed in the House but is stalled in the Senate. Supporters of charter schools are still optimistic that it can pass in the final days of this session, but Kentucky Senator Gerald Neal argued that there are still several major questions about the bill, including how charter schools will be funded.

"(The bill) does not indicate at all how this charter schools mechanism is going to be funded," said Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas (District 13). "That is so critical. Are we going to take money away from public schools? Are we going to take taxpayer dollars away from what they have been intended for?"

"I will call on the Senate to stop this bill in its tracks and say what needs to be said, which is we need to go back to the drawing board and get it right because right now it's wrong," said Democratic Rep. Attica Scott (District 41).

There is also debate as to whether locally elected school boards should be the sole authorizers of charter schools.

Some amendments officials would like to see include requiring certified teachers at charter schools, limiting charter school operators to non-profits and removing "mayors" as authorizers.

Kolb says students, taxpayers and voters are better served by waiting until the charter legislation is right.

"We strongly feel that a change of this magnitude deserves much more time and attention than has been given to it," he said. "We don't believe that this is a Republican or Democratic issue. We don't believe that it's a rural issue, that it's an urban issue. 

"We believe it's an issue of fundamental fairness for Kentucky parents, children and taxpayers. We simply haven't had the time to make that process as robust as it needs to be." 

Gov. Matt Bevin has voiced his support for House Bill 520, saying it would give Kentucky families an alternative choice. 

The General Assembly adjourns March 30, but House Speaker Jeff Hoover set a March 15 deadline for the passage of HB520. 

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

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