/Charter school expansion – a hot legislative topic – is now law

Charter school expansion – a hot legislative topic – is now law

Gov. Phil Bryant signed Thursday’s law allowing students from qualifying public schools to attend charter schools outside their home districts. Bryant’s office tweeted Thursday that charter school expansion would mean more options. “More options means better opportunities.” I am proud to sign SB 2161.” The bill was authored by Senator Gray Tollison (R-Oxford), and is intended to help students from underserved public schools get a better education. Students in C, D, and F-ranked districts can now attend charter schools. Previously, students from F-ranked areas could not attend charter schools. The bill also alters education funding formulas. It allows public allocations to be moved with students from public schools to charter schools. Students can only attend charter schools within their school district. Students can now attend charter schools across district lines under the new bill. “You’re telling us it’s right for me to tell a child who goes to a failing schools that we need to continue sending them there with no other options?” Tollison stated last week as the Senate agreed with House changes. This bill simply gives these kids options. If I could choose, I would go to a school that succeeds. “And who’s against it?” Many lawmakers spoke out against the bill which was passed by the House by 64-54 votes on March 28 and by the Senate by 24-21 votes on April 7. Opponents claim that funding public schools would harm already-failing districts. Senator David Jordan (D-Greenwood) stated that Mississippi’s education problems cannot be solved by jumping from “from concept to idea.” He also said that charter schools were just another way to fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Last week, Sen. Chad McMahan (R-Guntown) was the only Republican senator to oppose the bill. He cited what he called “progress in Mississippi’s public education” during the legislative session. These bills would have required district superintendents to become elected instead of being appointed and consolidate certain districts that are underperforming. McMahan stated that taking money from public school is wrong. He said, “Until there is evidence that charter schools work,” The bill provides that students who travel across district lines to attend charter schools in another district will be paid by the Mississippi Department of Education. These property tax receipts, as well as any payments to charter school districts, would go to each student enrolled. Students enrolled in charter schools within their school district will be paid the proportional property tax receipts to the district. Gunn tweeted a picture of the governor signing Thursday’s bill.