Kentucky House budget plan does not include mechanism for funding charter schools
The House Education chairman said the Senate will have to deal with the issue.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Charters schools are set to open in Kentucky as early as this fall, but with education dollars already tight, the proposed state budget does not yet include a plan for funding them.
The House passed its version of the budget on Thursday, and it gave breathing room to school districts whose budgets were slashed by Gov. Matt Bevin.
“I'm very pleased that we were able to restore many of the cuts that were in the governor's proposal,” said Rep. John "Bam" Carney (R-Campbellsville) who chairs the House Education Committee.
Carney acknowledged the House budget does not include a charter school funding mechanism. He said his focus was finding more dollars for traditional public schools. Carney said creating a plan to fund charters will be up to the Senate.
“I think that's an issue that the Senate will have to look at, whether or not that's something they want to deal with this session,” he said.
Charter schools advocate Pastor Jerry Stephenson said he's not concerned just yet.
“We would like to have seen it taken care of early,” he said.
The clock is ticking. Potential charter operators cannot apply until lawmakers finalize a funding mechanism.
“I ask the legislators to fulfill their commitment our children, and I believe they will,” Stephenson said.
The Senate's budget chief, Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Taylor Mill), said charters are part of the education funding conversation. And McDaniel said he thinks there's a "pretty good chance" the Senate will come up with a funding formula for charter schools.
Charter opponents said they are still concerned that any formula for funding charters will siphon already tight dollars from traditional schools.
“If there's no extra money, I don't see how we can open up charter schools,” said Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville).
Senate President Robert Stivers said he thinks his chamber is prepared to deal with the charter issue.
The House and Senate must agree on the budget, including funding for charters, before April 13 when the 2018 regular session ends.
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