Fayette and Jefferson counties would be part of charter school pilot under proposed bill

State Sen. Mike Wilson on Monday said he would file legislation in the 2016 General Assembly to allow public charter schools as part of a pilot in Fayette and Jefferson counties.

Charter schools are relieved from certain state and local regulations in exchange for a higher level of accountability. Charter schools may provide programs not available in traditional public schools.

The public charter schools would be authorized by local school boards and overseen by the Kentucky Board of Education, said Wilson, R-Bowling Green.

An independent charter commission, whose members would be appointed by the governor, would also be allowed to authorize charter schools, he said.

Charter school legislation filed by Wilson in the 2015 session failed. But he said this year could be different because Gov. Matt Bevin is supporting public charter schools.

He cited the achievement gap between minority, disabled and poor students and other students in Jefferson and Fayette counties as “unconscionable.” The two districts, containing Louisville and Lexington, are the largest in the state.

New Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt recently said that if charter schools were inevitable for Kentucky, they should be authorized by the local school boards and overseen by the state education board.

Wilson said priority for admission to charter schools would be given to children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Wilson is also considering filing legislation that would repeal Kentucky Core Academic Standards of what students know and should be able to do at various grade levels. He said another option would be to review, replace and update certain standards.

“There’s several different options out there and at this point we are investigating all of them,” he said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears