By Jim Warren – firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT — An amendment to allow charter schools in Kentucky failed Wednesday afternoon when the Senate Education Committee deadlocked on the issue.
Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Springs, offered the proposal as an amendment to House Bill 176, which creates a number of options for turning around low-performing schools in Kentucky. Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, cast the deciding vote against her Republican colleague’s amendment.
The full Senate unanimously approved the bill without charter schools later Wednesday, clearing the way for it to become part of Kentucky’s application for more than $200 million from the federal Race to the Top program. The application must be filed by Friday.
Westwood argued that adding charter schools would strengthen the state’s application and help bring more federal dollars. Charter schools could receive state money but would be exempted from many of the regulations that apply to other public schools.
Under Westwood’s amendment, only persistently low-performing schools could be converted into charter schools. The amendment would not allow the creation of new charter schools.
Democratic opponents of charter schools noted that 174 school districts have signed off on the current version of HB 176 and that dramatically altering the bill could jeopardize that agreement.
The bill, which was approved by the House Monday on a 96-0 vote, provides several options to improve low-performing schools, including putting them under the management of a for-profit or non-profit organization approved by the state.