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Charter schools might be added to bill

FRANKFORT — A fast-tracked proposal intended to strengthen Kentucky's application for millions of federal school improvement dollars will face revisions Wednesday in the state Senate Education Committee, chairman Ken Winters, R-Murray, said Tuesday.

Senate officials wouldn't rule out tacking on a provision to create charter schools, which would get state money but be exempted from many of the regulations that apply to other public schools.

President Barack Obama and some conservatives favor charter schools, but Kentucky Democrats have resisted including them in an application for more than $200 million in federal aid for the state's lowest-achieving schools.

That application must be filed by Friday and is dependent on passage of House Bill 176, which cleared the House on Monday on a 96-0 vote.

Kentucky Education Association President Sharron Oxendine said her organization, which represents 32,000 teachers, hasn't taken a position on the legislation. However, Oxendine said, if the Senate includes a provision calling for charter schools, the organization would object.

The Senate Education Committee is expected to sign off on its version of the bill Wednesday morning. The full Senate is expected to approve the measure later Wednesday.

That would allow the House and Senate to pick representatives from both chambers to iron out differences in the bill on Thursday. Both chambers could approve it Friday and send it to Gov. Steve Beshear to sign into law.

The bill would provide several options to improve low-performing schools, including putting them under the management of a for-profit or non-profit organization approved by the state.