Senate OKs charter school bill
JACKSON (AP) — After two years of struggle, a bill to make it easier to create charter schools is on its way to Gov. Phil Bryant.
The State Senate voted 34-18 Wednesday to approve House Bill 369, which widens legal authority for charter schools.
House members approved the bill Tuesday. Bryant, a Republican, says he’ll sign it, along with a series of other education bills that lawmakers have given final approval in recent days.
“Our children and our economy will reap the benefits of these improvement measures, and I look forward to signing these acts into law,” Bryant said in a statement.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said he had hoped to preserve more elements of the Senate proposal in a compromise with the House. But he said senators decided to adopt the House bill rather than risk failure for a second straight year.
“It’s not the bill that I would have liked,” Tollison said. “But it is a bill, after discussion and other effort, that we decided was the best bill we were going to get.”
Boards in districts graded A, B and C would get vetoes over charter schools in their boundaries. Students couldn’t cross district lines to attend a charter school in another district.
While House opponents didn’t mount a debate Tuesday, Senate opponents debated for about 45 minutes.
Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said he feared supporters were using charter schools as an opening wedge for a voucher system. He also said multiple systems of schools could “do away with the notion that the public school is part of the fiber of the community.”