A photo of students walking between classes.
The Alabama Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would change the make-up of the state commission overseeing charter schools and require local boards approving charters to undergo regular reviews.
HB 363, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, includes the following changes to charter school code:
- Allows charter schools to have a geographic area preference as long as the area has majority “at-risk” students
- Removes the rotating member from the local area on the commission.
- Removes the need to consider the Alabama State Board of Education geographic areas for appointing the commission
- Commissioners would now serve four year terms for a total of eight years. Previously, the commission would serve two-year terms with a total max of six years.
- Requires an orientation and training for commission members
- Requires updates to the Legislature at the start of each session
- Provides an employee to the commission
- At least 15 days before the commission considers the application, the chair of the local board where the charter school was denied should receive a letter from the commission. They would be invited to speak to the commission at a public hearing
- Allows local boards to apply, rather than register, to be authorizers. They would need to reapply every five years.
- Outlines reporting requirements for charter schools
- Outlines with updates the funding for start-up and conversion funding
“It is a charter school bill not a full-blown school choice bill,” said Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, who carried the bill in the Senate. “I think it’s certainly a part of a bigger picture, an attempt to give parents some choice in education.”
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, added an amendment to the bill that would add commission members appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
The bill returns to the House of Representatives with the amendment.
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