The State Board of Education on Thursday appointed a new seven member Charter Schools Commission. Officials hope it will spur creation of charter schools across the state.
If a local school board turns down a charter school's application, the school can now appeal to the new commission. Previously, the Board of Education would hear that appeal.Officials say under the old system, if a charter school lost its appeal to the local school board, it often wasn't financially feasible to go forward. Under the new system, charter schools approved by the commission will be eligible for a lot more per pupil funding.
State Board of Education member Brian Burdette chairs the Board's charter committee. He says the commission will be independent of the Board of Education.
And he says the commission won't be a rubber stamp for charters that local school boards turn down.
He says "As much as we are pro-chartering, it's not an easy thing. You've got to get parental involvement. You've got to get the local community involvement. And you have to maintain that involvement going forward."
Louis Erste, Director of the state charter school division, says the new commission is also charged with promoting the creation of charter schools where needed by finding alternative funding.
"What they'll do is establish partnerships with universities, and municipalities and local governments, business community as needed.For those folks in the local areas to develop charters." he says.
For example, the commission could help a charter school secure a grant from the Gates Foundation.
State Superintendent John Barge had opposed creation of the commission, but he says he is ready to move forward now that it has become a reality.
"My concerns initially were about duplicating processes as a state. So I don't have any concerns with the commission. The folks who were nominated are all really strong people. I know many of them. Looking forward to working with them." he said.
Three of the seven commission members have served on the previous charter schools commission. A fourth member previously served on the State Board of Education.
Voters approved the new commission in a November referendum.