Legislature gives final OK to rewrite of charter TN schools law, $6M in new funding

The Senate has given final legislative approval to the “Tennessee High Quality Charter Schools Act,” which authorizes spending up to $6 million in state funds on charter schools. The Senate vote Wednesday was 25-1. The House approved earlier 78-8.

From Chalkbeat Tennessee’s report:

The bill (HB310) would replace Tennessee’s 2002 charter school law.

“This law will ensure Tennessee authorizes high-quality charter schools for years to come,” said Sen. Brian Kelsey, one of the sponsors.

The measure was developed by the State Department of Education in an effort to address the often rocky relationships between Tennessee’s 105 charter schools and the districts that oversee them. The overhaul clarifies rules on everything from applications to closure.

Local districts will be able to charge an authorizer fee to cover the cost of charter oversight — something that school systems have sought since the first charter schools opened in the state in 2003.

The bill also establishes a fund of up to $6 million for facilities. That’s a boon to charter organizations that are too cash-strapped to pay rent and maintain their school buildings, said Maya Bugg, CEO of the Tennessee Charter School Center.

“It’s really an equity issue,” Bugg said of the facilities issue. “You have charter schools serving a majority of students of color, low-income, and for them to have this gap in funding, it takes dollars away from those students.”

The proposal had widespread support from the charter sector and from officials with Shelby County Schools, the state’s largest authorizer of charter schools, which has been sorting out many of the issues addressed in the revisions.

3 Responses to Legislature gives final OK to rewrite of charter TN schools law, $6M in new funding

  • Diana Page says:

    Non-charter public school would benefit from a fund for facilities, as well.

  • Linda says:

    Actually, Diana, I believe ALL public (state) funds should go to the public schools. If people want school choice, then they can do what my husband and I did here in Chattanooga and PAY THEIR OWN MONEY to send their children elsewhere. And if they don’t have the money? That is how life works in the real world.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      And after they “PAY THEIR OWN MONEY” they should receive a refund or tax credit for the cost the state did not have incur for the children who won’t be attending government schools. There’s almost something creepy about those who hold the “public schools” as some sort of religious icon deserving a special place in our hearts, minds, and finances. On the contrary, education is simply another service that government provides. Sometimes done well, often done poorly, but like any other service, always done better if it faces serious competition. A system where consumers are forced to pay one competitor or go to jail thus allowing only the upper classes to afford to chose another competitor is coercion not serious competition. Inappropriate for a fee society, harmful for education.

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