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Governor expected to sign charter school bill

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Under the bill, charter schools can be launched in districts rated D or F only. Under the bill, charter schools can be launched in districts rated D or F only.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Charter schools have cleared their most difficult remaining legislative hurdle in Mississippi. House members voted 62-56 Tuesday with no debate to approve a House-Senate agreement on House Bill 369.

Senator Terry Burton was one of the conferees working hard to hash out the terms of a charter schools bill. In the end, the bill leaves out some of the things many senators wished for. But he says a compromise was crucial in ensuring that the parents of 125,000 public school students across the state will now have a choice.

"We're eons behind most states. Lots of states, Illinois, Louisiana after Katrina, 9th ward, mostly charter schools have been developed down there. But we will catch up as a result of this bill being passed," he says.

Mississippi grades districts on an AF scale. Under the bill, charter schools can be launched in districts rated D or F only. The schools will be state-funded. Private money can be used, but private firms cannot run the schools. Also, school boards must be appointed for the charter schools. Boards in districts graded A, B and C would get vetoes over charter schools in their boundaries. Students wouldn't be allowed to cross district lines to attend a charter school in another district.

"You cannot convert a private school into a charter school and so on. You could even create a charter school within a school. Parents need those opportunities for their children, particularly in the failing school districts where it's very hard to get good leadership and good teachers," Senator Burton tells us, adding that he expects Governor Phil Bryant to sign the legislation after the session. 

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