NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to remove the cap on charter schools is headed to his desk.
The measure by Republican Sen. Jamie Woodson of Knoxville passed the Senate 22-9 Friday night after the House version was approved 72-18.
Charter schools are funded with state and local tax dollars but don’t have to meet some of the state regulations that traditional public schools do as they try to find different ways to improve student learning.
Under current law, the number of charter schools is capped at 90 statewide. There are currently 40 in all: 25 in Memphis, 10 in Nashville, three in Hamilton County and one each in Knoxville and Shelby County.
Besides removing the cap, the legislation also allows any student in the charter school’s jurisdiction to attend.
Haslam’s press release praising the measure is below.
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today lauded the passage of HB 1989/SB 1523 Friday night, which removes the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state and opens enrollment to more students.
“Creating an environment that promotes the growth of high quality charter schools provides parents with more education options for their children and school districts innovative tools to address their unique challenges,” Haslam said. “In our mission to improve education and provide every child in Tennessee the opportunity to receive a high quality education, public charter schools are critical assets.”
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville), House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) and Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) sponsored the charter school legislation that passed the Senate 22-9 and the House 72-18 with bipartisan support.
Through an innovative partnership that has raised significant sums from the private sector as well as funding from Race to the Top and additional sources, the state has accumulated nearly $40 million in investments to support new charter schools in Tennessee.
“The national spotlight is now on Tennessee’s education reform efforts, and we’ve attracted significant resources to support the start up of new charter schools in our state,” Haslam said. “This law will create more flexibility to foster the right environment to attract the most successful charter management organizations to operate in Tennessee.”
The charter schools bill is part of Haslam’s strategic legislative package focused on making the state the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs through meaningful education reform and improvements to Tennessee’s already attractive business climate.