(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana is a step closer to allowing expanded charter schools.
The state Senate voted 29-20 Tuesday to pass House Bill 1002 with seven Republicans joining all Democrats in voting “no.”
The legislation would allow charters to buy unused buildings from school districts.
Private colleges and universities as well as a state charter school board would be given authority to sponsor new charter schools. Right now, only some mayors, school boards, and public universities can do so.
The bill also requires charters to meet the same accountability guidelines as public schools, but does not make them adhere to state and district rules.
Amendments were tacked onto the bill by the Senate, meaning it must now head back to the House which it had passed earlier. The House can vote to approve the current version of the bill or make changes and take it to conference committee.
Once both chambers agree on the same version, the bill will head to the desk of Governor Mitch Daniels, who has put expanding charter schools as one way to accomplish his Indiana education reform agenda.
The larger amendments made by the Senate included eliminating provisions requiring public school districts to give transportation funds to charter schools and another clause allowing more mayors to sponsor charters.
Supporters say expanding charter schools would mean more education options while opponents argue they take money away from public education which has already seen cuts. Currently, there are 62 charter schools in the state.
“Indiana’s senators took a bold step in favor of quality options for all Hoosier students by passing HB 1002 today,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said. “By encouraging innovation and ensuring rigorous accountability, the men and women in the Indiana Senate have provided a template for responsible education reform that puts students first.”
Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) did not vote on the bill as he was absent from the Senate Tuesday.