Key House lawmaker pushing alternative to charter schools

FRANKFORT — House Education Chairman Carl Rollins said Tuesday his committee will not consider a Senate-passed bill that allows charter schools.

But Rollins, D-Midway, said he will file a bill soon that would allow school districts to be exempt from certain state rules, much like charter schools.

"Charter schools don't have to live up to all the statutory requirements of public schools," Rollins said. "What I want to do is to have it so school districts could apply to the state school board and be relieved of statutes for the entire district, not just for a small group of students pulled out to start a charter school."

School districts could ask to be exempt from such provisions as site-based school councils, budget requirements and the state school calendar, he said.

"They would have to show how release from the statutes could lead to innovation and how they are going to involve teachers, parents and staff in school decisions," he said.

He said he has no plan to allow a hearing for Senate Bill 3, which allows for charter schools. The measure also would allow parents to send their children to the public school closest to their home in some cases.

The decision of what schools students should attend should be left up to local school districts and not the state, Rollins said.

Senate Education Chairman Ken Winters, R-Murray, said he regrets Rollins is not inclined to call a vote on SB 3.

"It's a voluntary program to implement charter schools," he said.

Winters said Rollins' proposed legislation appears to be "a facsimile of charter schools," but he could not predict how it will fare in the legislature.