Charter school concept revisited by lawmakers - - Jackson, MS

Charter school concept revisited by lawmakers

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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – Will Mississippi lawmakers approve charter schools?

A senate bill to establish five charter schools for under-performing schools in the state failed two years ago.

Legislators are now taking another look.

A movement is underway to establish charter schools in the state.

The senate has passed a bill supporting the idea.

A big concern is that they would take funding from public schools.

"It passed by a wide margin in the senate because it was a feeling in the senate that parents should have another option, and this is another option.  But, the charter bill that passed the senate is a public charter school option," said Sen. Hillman Frazier of Hinds County.

The State Department of Education is working with lawmakers to learn more about the options.

"The State Board of Education has indicated a desire to have under the recovery school district the authority to move toward either charters or consolidation of failed school districts," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tom Burnham.

Typically charter schools are public schools that operate under different regulation, and in return produce higher academic achievement.

Many teacher union members strongly oppose the concept for it use of non-union teachers.

Another dilemma is funding.

"If we're having trouble funding the schools that we have in the MAEP formula as we're facing cuts this year and certainly cuts next year, how do we swing out and fund another program?" asked Mississippi Association of Educators Director of Government Relations Terry Lynn Hamm.

Tuesday the House Education Committee was to scheduled hear presentations supporting and opposing charter schools.

That meeting was postponed due to long-running house appropriation bill votes.

"There are lots of concerns about governance, who's gonna  make the decisions, whether the community will be involved, what the impact's gonna be on the existing public school system? Just a lot of questions that are unanswered. That's why we're having the hearing," said House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Cecil Brown of Hinds County.

No reschedule date for the hearing has been announced.

Mississippi has no charter school law.

As of 2009, 41 states and the District of Columbia have charter schools.

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