A top priority for the Fayette County school board is that local school districts oversee charter schools if Kentucky’s General Assembly approves them in 2017.
The school board on Monday night approved an agenda of legislative priorities.
Fayette school officials have generally been opposed to charter schools, but board members want to have a role in setting state policy if charter schools are inevitable.
The school board also has approved a yearlong contract with former state auditor Bob Babbage’s firm Babbage Cofounder, for $60,750. Babbage Cofounder lobbyists Alan Stein, Keen Babbage and Bob Babbage have been helping school board members reach a consensus on several legislative issues.
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In public charter schools, an organizer would enter into a performance-based contract, or charter, with an oversight board or entity that spells out the school’s governance, funding, accountability and flexibility.
Republicans have control of the state House for the first time since 1921, and Gov. Matt Bevin, also a Republican, is in favor of charter schools. Education bills that failed in the past — as charter school legislation did — could be on the fast track under the Republican majority.
“The likelihood of a charter schools law for Kentucky is right at 100 percent,” Babbage said in an interview. Legislation moved quickly when the General Assembly was in session for five days in January. The session résumés in February.
Also approved Monday were the following priorities:
▪ Charter schools should be nonprofit and nonsectarian, and should reflect the demographics of the district where they are established. Board members think any legislation should have guidelines for closing a charter school.
Evaluation of charter schools and their students should match the methods used for public schools.
Funding for charter schools should not reduce funding for existing public schools.
▪ Public dollars should not be used to support programs, such as vouchers or tuition tax credits, that fund nonpublic schools.
▪ Local school districts should have control over establishing the instructional calendar while ensuring that the business community and others are heard. They also support reform of the teacher tribunal disciplinary process, support providing districts with more tools to intervene in low achieving schools, and support revising school decision-making council regulations to give superintendents greater authority in selecting principals.
▪ Education should get more funding, including universal prekindergarten. They will support restoring state funding for education to previous or adequate levels.
▪ Comprehensive tax reform is needed. They also said the unfunded liabilities of the public pension systems should be addressed.