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Kentucky Charter Schools: Will the State Finally Allow Them?

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Could 2017 be the year that Kentucky—one of only seven states without charter schools—finally gets a charter school law? 

Since the election, charter-friendly Republicans will have firm control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's mansion. And now the state board of education —signaling a recognition that another legislative push for charters is likely—has approved a set of recommendations for state lawmakers, according to local media outlets.  

Among the board's recommendations: school districts should have the power to authorize new schools, and that only nonprofit groups should not be allowed to operate schools. 

Legislators and advocates have been trying to pass a charter school law in Kentucky for years, including an attempt last year to create a pilot program limited to just two counties. 

Adopting a charter law 25 years after the first one was passed in Minnesota gives Kentucky lawmakers the tools to create a strong sector, Kentucky Education Secretary Hal Heiner told WCPO, an ABC affiliate station in Cincinnati.

"Our hope in Kentucky, if we were to have that possibility and become the 44th state to have charters, is that would we pick from the highest-performing states' legislation," he said.

Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia have charter school laws, the most recent adopter being Alabama which passed a law in 2015. Charter advocates nationally have had pegged Kentucky as one of the states most likely to adopt charter schools next.

Of states that don't currently allow charter schools to open—including Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Vermont—most are largely rural and have been resistant to other forms of school choice such as vouchers for private schools.

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