It explained the two current bills in play. One is SB 6163 by Senator Andy Billig and Senator Michael Baumgartner of Spokane; the other bill is from Senator Steve Litzow, Mullet, Fain and Hobbs, SB 6194. (House companion bill is HB 2367.)
SB 6163 would basically make school BOARDs (not districts, boards), the only authorizers for charter schools. In the old law, school districts and the Charter Commission could both be authorizers (once a district had applied and been approved.) In this law, the Charter Commission? Gone.
And, under the old law, there wasn't exactly a gold rush of districts who even applied to be charter authorizers. There ended up being just one.
But, it solve both problems with the old law - elected oversight that leads to access to state education funding. (But you can imagine how polarizing this could make school board elections.)
SB 6163 is vague and kinda incoherent. They still have a conversion clause but the mystery now is how it works. There is no explanation that I can find. It expands a charter contract from five years (old law) to seven years (this bill.) No and no.
Litzow's bill would only work on the funding issue.
State Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, is co-sponsoring a bill with a different source: lottery money. The change would affect not only charters but other non-traditional public schools, such as tribal schools and the state schools for the deaf and blind.This is always a big question that gets asked - doesn't lottery money go to public education (as we were all promised?)
“We are funding them out of the Opportunity Pathways, which is the account funded by the lottery," Litzow said.
Charters would pull an estimated $9 million a year from the lottery account, which Litzow says stands at around $150 million. It is currently limited to paying for grants, scholarships and early childhood education.
My answer is, change that so it addresses some of McCleary.
SB 6194 is basically the old law but with some new twists. Like:
- the chair of the state board of education is part of the Charter Commission
- someone from OSPI is part of the Charter Commission
- they actually took out the part about buying/leasing district property "below market value" and it's just "at market value." I'm pretty sure that was illegal in the original law.
But the conversion school piece? Still there.
And I hate to tell them but the conversion piece would likely get dragged into court. Under no circumstances should that remain in its current state.
It also saves all the current charter schools with a clause about contracts executed in effect on December 1, 2015.
The Washington State Charter School Association only kinda likes SB 6163 (I think they fear not enough districts would authorize charters.) They do like Litzow's bill. State Superintendent Randy Dorn is the opposite - likes SB 6163 better than the funding bill.
I'm still confused - as a non-lawyer - but didn't the Court throw out the entire law and not just the funding section? Hmmm.
And, there's this?
Still more bills to allow charters in Washington are expected.So one tidy bill to wrap up the "work" on McCleary this session and the real work is assessing multiple charter school bills? And there you have it.
Update: There is a House bill - 1971 by Rep. Gerry Pollet and others that seeks to limit the number of charter schools in a given district until the ones operating have shown success and has Commission members, after their initial term, then have to be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.