A sign that public charter schools will soon open in Kentucky came Tuesday, when state Department of Education officials named Earl Simms as director of its newly created Division of Charter Schools.
Simms, 38, spent nine years working to improve urban education in Missouri, most recently as the St. Louis director of the Office of Charter Schools with the University of Missouri College of Education. The office authorizes charter schools in Missouri. In that role, Simms monitored school compliance and the performance of 10 K-12 charter schools with an enrollment of 4,000 students.
Simms is a graduate of duPont Manual High School in Louisville. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and public relations from Murray State University.
The General Assembly approved public charter schools in Kentucky for the first time earlier this year. The state law calls for local school boards and the mayors of Lexington and Louisville to approve and monitor the schools, which would operate under a charter, or contract. The schools would be given the freedom to be more innovative but would be held accountable for improving student achievement.
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The Kentucky Board of Education is set to give proposed charter school regulations a first reading Wednesday in Frankfort, and final approval is expected by January. Applications to start charter schools are expected shortly after that. The soonest that charter schools could open in Kentucky is the 2018-19 school year, state education officials have said.
Simms’ salary will be $90,000. His first day will be Aug. 16.
The public charter school division in the Kentucky Department of Education has a staff of four, with a recurring annual cost of approximately $400,000, according to state Board of Education documents. That covers salaries, benefits, operational costs and travel.