FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A bill allowing parents and teachers to convert 18 low-performing Jefferson County schools into charter schools advanced in a Kentucky Senate committee Thursday.
The Senate Education Committee approved the bill along party lines. In recent years, it has passed the Senate but died in the Democrat-controlled House.
Teachers or parents at the state's 41 persistently low-achieving schools could form a charter school on a two-thirds vote.
"We've got to try something new in our low-achieving schools, because too many of our kids are failing," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who supports the bill.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also endorsed the legislation, which is Senate Bill 211.
But Jefferson County Public Schools and the district's teachers' union are against the proposal.
"We're really concerned because we don't believe we should have a takeover of our public schools by for-profit companies that aren't even from Kentucky," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association.
JCPS has 18 of the state's 41 lowest-performing schools. Holliday said the district and other school systems are already trying charter-like academies to boost student learning.
Opponents said charter schools are unproven. They said supporters should instead focus on increasing funding for public schools.
"It takes revenue to pay teachers, it takes revenue to put technology in classrooms -- and we're not doing that," said Sen. Walter Blevins, D-Morehead. "We're looking for a magic bullet in charter schools, which are not a magic bullet."
The bill now moves to the full Senate.
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