Local News

Legislation to Bring Public Charter Schools to Kentucky Introduced in House

Bill Stephens

February 17th, 2017


FRANKFORT, KY – Today, House Education Committee Chair John Carney (District 51), Chair of the House Education Committee introduced HB 520, to bring public charter schools to the Bluegrass State. The bill would allow public charter schools to open and begin serving students in the 2018-19 academic year.

“As a public school teacher, I believe our existing traditional schools will, by far, continue to educate the vast majority of our students, “said Chairman Carney. “I also believe that this bill will set Kentucky on a path toward providing more public school options for students and families,” said Rep. Carney. “For more than two decades, public charter schools have been making a difference for students in other states and it’s past time that Kentucky allow these proven, innovative public schools. My children attended traditional public schools that worked well for them. But one size doesn’t fit all and I’d like to see every single student in Kentucky attend a school that best meets their needs.”

HB 520 will allow local school boards to review and approve public charter applications, with an assurance that charter applications will have the right to appeal decisions to the State Board. The bill provides a high level of flexibility and autonomy and still requires that all public charter schools take that same state assessment and follow the same health, life, safety, financial and transparency laws as all other public schools. In addition, enrollment preferences will be given to students residing in the district, students who are eligible for free or reduced priced lunch, and students attending persistently low-achieving schools.

“15 of the last 16 major studies on public charter schools have shown that they are raising the bar on academic achievement, and this bill will help bring that same success to Kentucky” said Joel Adams, of the Kentucky Charter School Project. “Chairman Carney’s legislation is based upon best practices that have produced high-performing public charter schools in many other states. Parents, teachers, and communities can be assured that we will have public charter school options where they are needed, and that we are inviting only the highest-quality public charter schools to serve students in Kentucky.”

There are currently 3.1 million students attending more than 6,700 public charter schools nationwide. Since 2010, 16 academic studies have been published on charter school performance. All but one found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. One study found mixed results. Charter schools disproportionately top the lists of America’s best high schools in Newsweek, US News and World Report, and the Washington Post. In fact, on these lists more than a quarter of the best high schools are charter schools. 

If HB 520 becomes law, it would make Kentucky the 44th state in the country to allow public charters schools.

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