Colleges, universities could sponsor charter schools

The Senate on Monday passed a measure that could lead to state colleges and universities sponsoring charter schools.

Senators voted 29-11 to approve the bill (SB 1028), which would allow higher institutions, after receiving the go-ahead from the Department of Education, to solicit applications for charter schools.

State colleges currently are permitted to work with school districts to develop charter schools that offer secondary education and an option for students to receive associate degrees upon graduation.

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The colleges can sponsor one charter school under certain conditions. Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, asked during a debate last week why the bill is necessary if a pathway already exists for colleges to sponsor schools.

"It really is about efficiency. There are areas where there (are) colleges that want to go into multiple jurisdictions. Instead of having to go jurisdiction by jurisdiction," bill sponsor Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine replied. "They can now just go directly to the state."

The bill would not limit the number of charter schools that institutions could sponsor, Hutson said. Among other things, charter school sponsors are responsible for approving or denying charter applications, overseeing the charter schools’ progress toward goals, and monitoring financial performance.

The House is ready to consider a similar bill (HB 51).

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