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Bill paving way for charter schools in Kentucky heads for vote

House Bill 9 would mandate JCPS to create and oversee charter schools.
HB 9 would not only help fund charters, it would create a pilot program that would force Jefferson County Public Schools and districts in Northern Kentucky to o
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - House Bill 9, a bill that would fund charter schools in Kentucky, passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.

Even though charter schools have been legal since 2017, none are open.

What are charter schools?

HB 9 sponsor Rep. Chad McCoy of Bardstown argued for the bill and despite heavy opposition at committee meeting Tuesday, McCoy said it’s the avenue to best provide equitable education opportunities for all.

“Charter schools have to significantly reduce America’s racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps,” said McCoy.

HB 9 would not only help fund charters, it would create a pilot program that would force Jefferson County Public Schools and districts in Northern Kentucky to open one.

McCoy suggested West Louisville is the perfect candidate, despite criticism that charter schools will pull students and funding from traditional public schools.

“A charter school must take all comers: kids with special needs, kids on IEP, anything,” McCoy said. “The charter school takes them and is responsible.”

As HB 9 is written, charter schools would have to be approved by individual school districts in Kentucky. If denied, they can appeal to the Kentucky Department of Education.

However, the majority of opposition for the bill is coming from educators themselves.

“We have put millions and millions of dollars of resources into these areas,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Sally Sugg said “And I submit to you [Rep. McCoy], you have nothing different at all that will help the students you propose will be helped by this legislation.”

When asked if he had spoken to his fellow representatives that represent the West End of Louisville, McCoy said he hadn’t but added, “In fairness, they didn’t come to me either.”

That also drew some criticism.

”To flat out say that we are failing our minority kids in West Louisville, without sitting down and collaborating with JCPS, with Dr. Pollio, is so frustrating to me as a JCPS teacher,” Rep. Tina Bojanowski of Louisville said.

Although mostly a party-line issue, two Republican members of the committee, Rep. Steve Riley and Rep. Ed Massie with backgrounds as educators voted no on the bill that ultimately passed through the committee.

It heads now to the full house.

Governor Andy Beshear has already said he’d veto the bill if it ever got to his desk.

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