SENATE PASSES PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL LEGISLATION
Bryant wants law to enable public charter schools to form in failing school districts

JACKSON – Mississippi fourth- and eighth-graders have the lowest math and reading scores in the nation, according to findings by the National Assessment of Education Progress.

This needs to be changed, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant said. One way to improve education and the report card of Mississippi’s students is through public charter schools, Bryant said.

The Senate approved SB 2774, 34 to 17, providing the possibility for public charter schools in Mississippi.

Bryant, an advocate for public charter schools, said the bill provides an opportunity for failing public schools to convert to open-enrollment public charter schools at the will of the community.

“Public charter schools give local communities a chance to improve their schools in failing schools districts,” Bryant said. “No child should be left behind and potentially miss out on a great education.”

SB 2774 provides that public charter schools enter into an agreement with local and state government to meet certain student performance benchmarks in exchange for per-pupil funding for students.

Public charter school advocates say this freedom from the traditional bureaucratic red tape allows for healthy competition and opens the channel for innovative ways of introducing new ideas to the classroom.

Public charter schools have to meet the same academic standards as traditional public schools.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a version last year that was highly restrictive. It placed restrictions that would virtually make it impossible for a school to convert.

Mississippi’s current charter school bill has been called the worst in the nation by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

SB 2774 also states:

• A conversion charter school receives state and local funds in the same manner as other public schools in the district.
• Charter schools shall not levy taxes or issue bonds.
• Charter schools are authorized to provide virtual services.
• Employees of a conversion charter school and employees of an open-enrollment public charter school are considered employees of the charter school.
• If a charter is revoked for any reason, the teachers of that charter school are given priority in being rehired by the local school district.
• Local school districts are prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against teachers for involvement in a public charter school.
SB 2774 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

SB 2774, Author: Michael Watson R- Pascagoula -http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2011/pdf/history/SB/SB2774.xml

###

Bryant Press Release
2/8/11