Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill Tuesday that would allow charter schools in Kentucky for the first time, according to his spokeswoman, Amanda Stamper.
Under House Bill 520, local school boards and the mayors of Louisville and Lexington could approve and oversee an unlimited number of charter schools beginning in the 2017-18 school year. 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. Charter schools would be part of the state’s public education system.
Meanwhile, as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, 760 people had signed an online petition demanding that Bevin apologize for accusing charter school opponents of lying and questioning their motives during his testimony earlier this month before the state House Education Committee.
Dottie Miller, a retired Kenton County teacher and former president of the Kenton County chapter of the Kentucky Education Association, created the petition using the Change.org website, the Kentucky School Boards Association News Service reported.
“The teachers and the retired teachers of Kentucky demand an apology for your tirade against us, our professional organizations and legislators who stood up for public education,” the petition said. “Calling us liars and making unfounded accusations about our motives while testifying to the House Education Committee is beyond the limits of civility.”
At a House Education Committee hearing March 3 on House Bill 520, Bevin criticized opponents of the bill and appeared to criticize the KEA, an educators group that opposed charter school legislation, without using the word “teachers.” Bevin referred to “unions.”
“The argument that this is somehow a threat to our public education system is a lie. It is not correct. It is a scare tactic. It is meant to preserve the status quo,” the governor said, according to the school board’s association news service.
A separate appropriations bill, also passed by the General Assembly, deals with the funding model for charter schools. Under House Bill 471, federal and per-pupil state funding would be allocated to charter schools just as it would any other public schools.
According to the Legislative Research Commission and the Kentucky Secretary of State websites, that bill has been delivered to Bevin but hadn’t been signed Wednesday morning.