Charter schools looking for funding green light from legislature

Charter schools looking for funding green light from legislature
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Republican lawmakers continued to hammer out a compromise budget Monday, while the future of education funding hangs in the balance.

Charter school supporters also watched intently, waiting for the public funds they need to start new schools.

"(Kentucky is) the 44th state to get this done," Joel Adams, Executive Director of the Kentucky Public Charter Schools said. "The eyes of the entire country are on Kentucky right now watching how we deliver this."

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Adams said once continuous public funding is assured for charter schools, there will be 10 charter school groups around the state ready to submit applications, with two in Jefferson County. Moving proactively, Jefferson County Public Schools recently announced an application period. Adams described the process for opening any charter school as daunting.

"It's going to end up being an average of a 300 page application for most applicants," Adams explained. "They have to create a five-year budget, they have to answer a wide variety of questions all the way down to the assessments and curricula even before they know they're going to have a school."

Almost lost in this year's tumultuous session, legislation creating permanent public funding for charter schools waits for approval. Expected by many to pass, the public education landscape in the commonwealth could soon face some big changes.

Public education budget cuts expected to be imposed for the next two years would affect charter schools, as well as existing public schools.

"There will be competition for desperate public dollars. And we don't need competition," Stephanie Winkler, President of the Kentucky Education Association, said. "What we need now is to fund the obligations we have for our constitution, and that's our public schools."

Adams acknowledged the challenges for charter schools in lean funding times. Even before this session started, he said charter school supporters were already prepared to make do with less.

With the anticipated legislative approval for continuous funding, Adams said the earliest possible opening for Kentucky charter schools may not happen until 2020.

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