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Charter bill makes it easier to establish new schools, more regulations for existing ones

Today, the House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee voted along party lines to approve a massive charter school bill that has already drawn the ire of school districts and Democrats.

The bill’s components can generally be divided into two themes: new regulations intended to rein in problematic charter schools (we’re looking at you, North Star High School in Orlando) and regulations that make it easier to open and operate charter schools. 

Here an overview of some of what the bill, currently known as PCB 13-01, accomplishes based on the amended language approved during today’s meeting:

  • Allows charter schools to move into empty public school buildings as long as they pay for maintenance or reimburse school districts for the cost of maintenance.
  • Prevents a charter school from spending more than $10,000 after its contract to operate is terminated unless the money was budgeted, was approved by the sponsoring school district, is for reasonable attorney’s fees or is being spent to appeal a ruling.
  • Prohibits employees of charter schools or charter management organizations, or their spouses, from serving on a schools' governing boards.
  • Prohibits governing boards of charter schools that find themselves in academic or financial troubles from applying to open new schools until their issues are resolved.
  • Allows state colleges to operate charter schools as teacher training grounds and serve students in grades K-12.
  • Allows prospective charter schools to submit applications as early as May 1 and requires school districts to review the proposals and provide feedback on any issues that could lead to a denial so that the problems can be fixed prior to the August 1 final submission date.
  • Gives charter schools additional power to determine capacity and student enrollment limits, but requires they sign up students through a lottery process.
  • A “high-performing charter school system” can only have its school identified as a “high-performing charter school” if it is established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school that has been identified as in need of intervention.