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Charter School Bill to Be Introduced in Miss. House

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The Mississippi House of Representatives could take up a bill that would greatly expand the role of charter schools in that state later this week, according to the Associated Press.

The state's Senate passed a charter school bill last week that would create a seven-member board to approve and oversee charter schools. The governor would choose three of the members, the lieutenant governor would choose three members, and one member of the board would be chosen by the state superintendent.

Like that measure, the House bill, which was introduced on Monday, would also set up a seven-member board for charter schools as described by the Senate bill. But there are some differences between the two proposals.

For example, the House bill would limit the number of new charter schools to 15 per year. It would require districts rated A, B, or C under the state's accountability system to approve the charters slated for their districts, whereas the Senate version of the bill does not give school districts with a C rating veto power. The House bill would also prevent students from crossing district lines to attend charter schools unless they receive a transfer. In addition, the House bill allows charters to contract with online providers with the authorizing board's approval, while the Senate bill bans the use of all online schools.

Currently, Mississippi's charter school law allows a small number of existing traditional public schools to convert to charters, but so far, there are no charter schools operating in the state. The law was recently rated the worst in the country according to The Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter advocacy group that ranks states each year on the strength and implementation of their charter school laws.

Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves has been a vocal advocate for charter schools in the state, commending the Senate on the passage of the bill on his Facebook page yesterday and defending the Senate bill's provision to prevent C-rated traditional school districts from vetoing charter schools.

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