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Local Educators Await Charter School Legislation

Local educators will be watching closely when state legislators return to Frankfort on Feb. 7.

Bills have already been filed that could lead to significant changes in public education in Mercer County and across Kentucky, including changes in the statewide school accountability system and easing teachers’ educational requirements. But it’s the issue of charter schools that have local educators concerned.

Charter schools are publicly funded, privately managed and semi-autonomous schools which do not charge tuition. While they have to fulfill the same academic standards as public schools, they have more freedom over budgets, staffing, curricula and school operations.

Currently 43 states and the District of Columbia have some form of charter schools, according to the Center for Education Reform. And it seems likely Kentucky legislators will approve some form of charter school this year, said Mercer County School Superintendent Dennis Davis.

“We’re confident there will be some kind of charter school legislation passed,” Davis said.

There are currently two competing proposals in the General Assembly. Senate Bill 70 would allow a pilot charter school program only in Jefferson and Fayette counties while House Bill 103 would not limit charter schools to specific counties. HB 103 would also allow other public entities instead of local school boards to oversee charter schools. Davis would prefer that authority to rest with local school boards.

“The biggest fear is if kids enroll in the charter schools, I’m going to lose students,” Davis said.

For more, check out this week’s issue of The Harrodsburg Herald.

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