Gov. Matt Bevin announced his support for the latest charter school bill introduced in the General Assembly. The legislation would allow non-profit or for-profit organizations to create new charter schools with the permission of a local school district or the state Department of Education.
House Education Chair Bam Carney, a Republican from Campbellsville, said he envisions three to five of the institutions opening up in Kentucky by the 2018-19 school year.
“I would prefer it kinda grow slowly,” Carney said during a news conference on Tuesday.
The legislation doesn’t set any geographic caps or limit the number of charters in the state. Organizations applying for charters would have to seek approval with the local school district where they wish to locate. If the local district denies the application, it could be appealed to the state.
Another charter schools bill filed in the General Assembly would limit the organizations to a pilot program in Jefferson and Fayette Counties.
But Carney said he worried that it would be difficult to expand a charter school system in the future if Kentucky only passed a limited version of the legislation this year.
He also dismissed concerns that for-profit companies would mismanage public dollars in favor of returns for investors.
“I’ve heard the horror stories about some for-profits etcetera,” Carney said. “But there’s nobody up here or sitting over there in the commissioner’s office who has any intent to let anybody like that come in, at least if they do they’re not going to stay in business very long.”
The legislation would allow school districts to form performance-based contracts with charter organizations lasting between three and five years.
School districts would be in charge of monitoring the academic and financial health of charter schools and contracts could be revoked immediately if the school district finds that the organizations threaten the health and safety of their own students.
Bevin said his administration wants the policy to succeed.
“This isn’t a social experiment, we’re not goofing around,” he said. “This isn’t like ‘well, we said we’d do this so gonna just do it, see we did something.’ It’s about creating better opportunity for young people. If in fact we come out of the gate with something that does not work, I would be the last guy to be supportive of doubling down on it.”
So far, three charter school bills have been filed in the General Assembly.