Charter schools legislation officially dead as deadline passes

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Charter schools, one of the priority issues for the new Republican legislative leadership, died a quiet death Monday night for the 2012 regular session.
Monday night was the deadline for House and Senate leaders to hammer out final agreements on legislation to give the full chambers time to approve or reject the compromise before Sunday’s scheduled end of the session.
House and Senate negotiators did not file a conference report – or compromise – on charter schools.
Senate Education Chair Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said in the negotiations process, “We stayed at our position.”
The House leadership was not able to garner enough support to pass charter school legislation as the Senate passed it earlier this session. Tollison and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, have indicated they will try to develop support for a bill in an upcoming session.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he might call a special session to try to get charter school legislation passed.
Under the Senate proposal, a state board would be established to approve charter schools in poor performing districts. School boards in districts ranked high performing and successful would have final say on whether charter schools could be created within their boundaries. But under the Senate proposal, that veto for successful districts would last only until July 2015.
Charter schools are public schools that receive public funds but are exempt from much of the governance and many of the guidelines that control traditional public schools.
Also dead Monday was legislation requiring superintendents of education to be appointed.
A compromise was reached on a proposal that would put restrictions on the attorney general’s ability to hire outside attorneys.
Additionally, all pending issues regarding the state’s general fund budget were resolved for the 2012 session.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com