The Kentucky Senate Wednesday approved a revised bill allowing a pilot program for public charter schools in Fayette and Jefferson counties, but limiting control to local school boards.
An amendment to Senate Bill 253 filed by State Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, would give local school boards control over charter schools. The bill sponsored by state Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, was approved 28-9.
Thomas said in an interview Wednesday that his amendment eliminates from the bill a governor-appointed Kentucky Public Charter School Commission that, in the earlier version, would have been able to commission charter schools.
Under his revision, school boards would have the same oversight over charter schools as they have over any public schools, Thomas said.
The legislation says charter schools would be part of the state’s system of public education, but the schools would be exempt from some laws and regulations applicable to the state board of education and local school districts. The charter schools would have a board of directors but would be funded like public schools.
Proponents say the idea behind Senate Bill 253 is to close achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing groups of public school students, including low-income and minority students. The pilot would begin in the 2017-18 academic year and continue through academic year 2021-22.
The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives where Democrats have said they are not in favor of charter schools.