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Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 4:28am

State Lawmakers To Meet Over Charter Schools

Lawmakers are looking for fixes to keep the state commissioned charter schools open. The schools face closure after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional.

State leaders are brainstorming over how to keep the schools funded.

Head of the Senate Education Committee Republican Fran Millar says options include getting the state Board of Education to approve the schools, asking the federal government if the state can spend Race to the Top money on them, and as a last resort measure…

”Some schools may decide to go private. Then we could amend the special needs voucher program and fund them that way and we would do that if necessary during a special session maybe when we’re here for redistricting, now I’m not saying we’re going to do that… that’s the ultimate," says Millar.

The special needs voucher is currently only available to students with learning disabilities.

Millar says in the long term, the question over whether the state should be allowed to approve charter schools could be put to voters. But the earliest that could happen is in a 2012 referendum.

In the meantime, state leaders will meet next week to determine what’s the next step for the 16 affected charter schools and the 15,000 students they serve.

Millar has invited several state officials, including state schools Superintendent John Barge and Mark Peevy, executive director of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.