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What's the Future of Charter Schools in Kentucky?

Creative Commons

The opening of charter schools in Kentucky could be delayed if a two-year budgetpassed this week by the General Assembly is signed by Governor Bevin.

The spending plan contains no funding for charters, which operate with greater independence than traditional schools and with a different level of accountability. 

Lawmakers approved the creation of charter schools in last year’s legislative session.  The state then began accepting applications with a goal of having some of the alternative public schools operating by this fall.

Critics argue that charter schools siphon money away from traditional classrooms, without producing demonstrably better student outcomes.

Western Kentucky University Education Professor Gary Houchens is a member of the Charter Schools Advisory Committee. He said those wanting to start charter schools in their communities can still submit applications despite the lack of state funding for charters in the current budget plan. But he says he fears the opening of the schools will be delayed.

“They closed the door on new educational opportunities for an untold number of students who would potentially benefit from this option. In that way, we’re left potentially with a charter school law and no charter schools," Houchens said.

Some lawmakers said funding charters wasn’t a priority in the next two-year budget given the state’s limited revenue. 

“There’s just a lot of our members that--just frankly--given the environment around public school funding, the shortage of public school funding, just felt like it was inappropriate to put a mechanism in there to fund charter schools,” acting House Speaker David Osborne said Monday.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt has said it would be very rare for a charter school to open without public money.

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