Tennessee 108th HB 702 – SB 830

Interesting how a harmless bill can change into a monster and deprive the school systems of a decision making process granted them by law. “What the Government Giveth, the Government can take away.”

SUMMARY OF ORIGINAL BILL: Extends, from 10 to 20, the number of days that a sponsor of a public charter school may appeal to the State Board of Education (SBE), a local board of education’s denial of a public charter school application

Cost to the taxpayers…. $0.00 more or less.

However an amendment, simply called amendment 1 to HB702 changes the playing field dramatically. The amendmend was made by Harry Brooks, a Republican representing District 19 which is located directly north, east, and south of Knoxville.

What the amendment does is deletes all language after the enacting clause. Creates a new state charter school panel which shall be authorized to hear appeals of public charter schools that have had their initial applications denied by local education agencies (LEAs). Removes language in current statute that authorizes appeals to be heard by the State Board of Education (SBE). Sets forth the procedure for the panel to hear appeals of public charter school applications and renewals. The panel shall be a new independent state agency.

Public charter schools authorized by the panel may apply to the panel for renewal at the end of the initial application term. Such public charter schools shall continue to operate for a period of 10 years. The panel shall be composed of nine members. Sets forth the manner in which panel members will be appointed and requires initial appointments to be made no later than July 1, 2013.

Members of the panel shall not receive a salary but are authorized to receive reimbursement for actual expenditures in accordance with the state’s travel regulations. The panel shall hire an executive director who shall be empowered to hire additional staff as needed. Requires the panel to file an annual report on the overall state of public charter schools and charter school authorizers with the Education Committees of the General Assembly and the Comptroller of the Treasury by February 1, 2014, and each year thereafter.

Public charter schools approved by the panel shall receive the full state and local Basic Education Program (BEP) funding due other public charter schools in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13- 112. The panel shall begin to hear appeals filed by sponsors of public charter schools proposing to open in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Based on information received from the Department of Education, it is estimated the panel will hire an executive director at a cost of $100,000 in salary and $30,000 in benefits and at least one additional administrative staff position at a cost of $35,000 in salary and $10,500 in benefits. These individuals will coördinate the evaluation of initial public charter school appeals and subsequent renewals, oversight, and monitoring of the panel’s authorized public charter schools.

The Department of Education estimates that equipment, supplies, and travel expenses will be $20,000; office rental is estimated to be $3,600; and meeting expenses to hold at least two meetings each year is estimated to be $40,000. The total recurring increase in state expenditures is estimated to be $239,000 ($130,000+ $45,500 + $20,000 + $3,600 + $40,000). Public charter school sponsors may currently appeal denials of initial applications or renewals to the SBE. No increase in the number of authorized public charter school that would have been denied under current law through the appeals process that the state charter school panel will hold. This report did not include audit expenses.

Then Republican Charles Michael Sargent jumps in with a variation to Amendment 1…. costs are about the same…$239,000.00….  its purpose is a little different, but while it does continue to allow the local chartering authority over view for public charter schools authorized by the panel in cases where a majority of student funds come from local sources it is still a step away from local control.

So a bill that was meant to be nothing more than an aid now turns into another attempt to enlarge the state governments range on education and take another step to end the battle of local control as opposed to state or regional control…..

There is growing opposition to the bill amendments and you can help in a couple of ways. 1) call your local representative and make the message clear that you are opposed to legislation as it stands now, 2) sign the petition opposing the legislation and 3) send your rep a text message.

Personally I am not much of a petition person unless it there is some legal basis for it but the other two will have a direct impact on the hearts and minds of out representative.

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