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State's Charter School System Could Expand

The Indiana House Education Committee is considering a bill that would greatly expand the state’s charter school system. Supporters say increasing the number of charter schools would give Hoosiers more options.

The state would create a new oversight board to ensure students are meeting standards, but the bill also would give new charters the use of vacant public school buildings and allows private universities and mayors to sponsor new schools. Democrat Representative Greg Porter says he doesn’t agree with that private-public arrangement.

"Why should," he asks, "a private school be able to take charter with public dollars and make decisions at that school but they are not held accountable, publicly?"

Scott Bess is vice president and chief operating officer of Goodwill Education Initiatives, which operates two charter schools in Indianapolis. He says most public schools are great at educating a majority of students, but some children are not being adequately served.

“There are niches of students we don’t serve well," he says," "large groups in some districts. We aren’t close to having the number of education options to really serve all students”

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White says the bill could drastically hurt his district from a funding and organizational standpoint.

“This bill is so pregnant with possibilities for disaster for us," he says. Take your time, because there’s so many features in here. Just aggregate these features, because they’re so heaving in terms of damage they can do to us.”

The expansion bill also requires school corporations to give up part of their transportation fund levy to charter schools. The House Education Committee is expected to vote Monday.

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