WKU Public Radio News Staff
Tue January 10, 2012
House Education Chairman Could Allow Charter School Vote
By Kenny Colston
Frankfort, Ky – A vote on legislation that would allow charter schools may finally have it's day in the Kentucky state House education committee.
House Education Chairman Carl Rollins says he's considering allowing a charter school bill to receive a hearing and a vote in his committee this session. That's been unheard of since Rollins assumed the chair of that committee.
Rollins makes no guarantee he'll bring up a charter school bill, but says if there's legislation out there he can deal with, a vote could happen.
"It would depend on what the bill is," Rollins says. "I think the innovation districts bill would pass, I'm not sure if, and I think it passed last year and it's the same bill this year. Charter schools have never really been voted on or brought up in committee, we have discussed them in the interim committee meetings but we've not voted on them."
The "districts of innovation" bill is Rollins's own take on charter schools. Instead of creating new public charters schools, it would allow current school districts, up to five a year, to break free of some state regulations to operate outside the box, more like charters. Rollins says the bill is "charter school-like."
Charter school advocates aren't in favor of Rollins approach, saying it's more restrictive than actual charter schools. One group has made a push, through TV ads, to get the public on its side when it comes to advocating for charter schools. And House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said he's willing to discuss the issue.
Rollins says the TV ads haven't inspired his possible change of heart on charter school legislation.
One House lawmaker currently has a charter school bill up for discussion, Republican state Rep. Brad Montell of Shelbyville. And while Rollins didn't specifically commit to hearing Montell's bill, he did say if he allows a discussion of a charter schools bill, it will get a vote as well.
"If I call the bill I'll let a vote," Rollins said. "I don't think I've ever called a bill, since I've been chairman, just for discussion that didn't eventually get a vote."
Opponents of charter schools say they don't improve education significantly and they take resources from other public schools.