State Rep. Carl Rollins

An attempt to piggyback charter school legislation on another bill has likely killed two plans for education reform in Kentucky.

The state Senate Education committee today added language legalizing charter schools to a charter alternative plan sponsored by Representative Carl Rollins, who chairs the House Education Committee. Charter supporters hoped Rollins would allow the amendment in order to see his alternative become law, but it’s unlikely the plan will work.

“The charter school part of the bill has no chance and I’m pretty sure the whole bill is dead,” says Rollins.

Rollins’s original plan would allow entire districts to be exempted from some state rules, much like charter schools. But under his proposal, the schools would be required to produce certain results.

The Senate added language to the measure to allow no more than 20 charter schools statewide. Half of those charters would have to be within three miles of a school where at least half of the students are in the free or reduced lunch program.

Supporters say the amendment was necessary because the House Education Committee didn’t vote on another bill that would have legalized charter schools. Rollins says he didn’t block a vote on the charter bill, it simply wasn’t popular enough.

“I was perfectly willing to vote on that bill,” he says. “The truth is the sponsor asked me not to vote, not to call for a vote, because it had very few yes votes. There is very little support for charter schools in the House,” he says.

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