Charter School Expansion Takes Step Forward, Step Back
Senate changes mean House standoff must end before bill can pass
One of the few education bills to clear the House before last month's Democratic walkout will have to return there before becoming law.
The Senate Education Committee has approved Governor Daniels' proposal to give all universities and most mayors the power to authorize charter schools. Current law reserves that right to public universities and the mayor of Indianapolis.
But the panel made several changes, most of them minor. That means the House will have to either approve the amended bill before the legislature adjourns April 29, or reach a deal with Senate negotiators on a compromise version before the deadline.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), the bill's author, says Republicans considered pushing the bill through unchanged, with a companion bill later to make any fixes if and when Democrats return. But he says legislators opted to follow the normal process.
The panel approved the bill 8-2, with Gary Democrat Earline Rogers joining all Republicans in approving it. Because the bill spends money, it must clear the Appropriations Committee as well before going to the full Senate.
Bosma says he wants to undo one change made in committee: a proposal by Rogers which would allow traditional public schools to convert to charter schools if a majority of the teachers and a majority of the parents call for it.
Bosma's original bill would have let a parents' vote alone trigger the conversion. And the speaker says his bill would have limited that option to parents in the worst schools, while Rogers' amendment limits it to schools in the top performance category.