Charter bill moves forward in House Education Committee

Lisa Buie

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A bill that would provide more ways for charter schools to gain approval took another step toward becoming law today.

The Florida House Education Committee approved HB 953, which would grant state colleges and universities the authority to approve charter schools. The bill also designates the college or university board of trustees as the local educational agency for accepting responsibilities and receiving federal funds for the charter schools it sponsors.

The charters would be open to students in any district in the college or university’s service area.

The bill requires the state Department of Education, in collaboration with other school sponsors and operators, to develop a sponsor evaluation framework and report results annually. Charter students would not be included in the calculation of the school district grade where they live.

The bill also allows existing charters to strike sponsorship deals with colleges or universities after their contracts with the local school district expire and further authorizes charter schools to provide career and professional academies.

“All this bill does is allow our nationally recognized state colleges and universities to become authorizers,” said Rep. Stan McClain, R-Ocala. “Florida is one of the only states that does not have multiple authorizers.”

The bill already has been approved in the House K-12 Innovation Subcommittee and the House Education Appropriations Committee. A companion bill, SB 1588, was amended in committee and currently is in the Senate Education Committee. 

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