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VOL. 41 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 21, 2017

Legislature passes law to ensure charter school quality

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that revamps state charter school law by requiring the publicly funded but privately run schools to be evaluated based on their performance.

"These stronger laws will prevent fly-by-night charter school operators from locating in Tennessee," said Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, one of the sponsors of the legislation.

It requires school districts to evaluate charter schools based on performance, Kelsey said, so that the best schools get approval. School districts could close low-performing charters, but that decision could be reviewed and possibly overturned by the State Board of Education.

The bill, which was pushed by the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam, is a compromise between charter schools and traditional public schools.

The charters got $6 million in funding to help them acquire school buildings or pay for repairs at their facilities. The school districts, in turn, get a portion of the state and local education funds that go to the charters to help pay for administrative costs, such as hiring extra staff to evaluate charter school applications. The authorizing fee districts would get is 3 percent of state and local funds that go to each charter school, which would be capped at $35,000 per school.

Only Shelby, Hamilton, Knox and Davidson counties currently have charter schools.