Charter school expansion legislation passes House

Legislative Staff Release

Published: 26-May-2010

Legislation removing several restrictions on charter school creation and expansion passed the House late yesterday (Tuesday, May 25).

Senate Bill 1862, by House Speaker Chris Benge, deletes the limit on the number of new charters that can be established in any given year, which will expand public school choices for Oklahoma schoolchildren. House Bill 2753, by Rep. Lee Denney, makes similar changes.

“When you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got,” said Denney, a Cushing Republican. “This legislation expands public education choices in Oklahoma while maintaining high standards. The status quo is not good enough for our students.”

Current population and average daily membership requirements for establishing charter schools will remain in place, which currently restrict charter schools to Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. But the bills create three exceptions:

A school district with a school site on the states school improvement list would be able to sponsor a charter school.

Technology center school districts would be able to sponsor a charter school if the local school district has a site on the school improvement list.

Comprehensive or regional higher education institutions would be able to sponsor a charter school only when the local school district has a site on the school improvement list and when the institution has a branch campus located within the charters school district. The institution must also have a teacher education program accredited by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation.

Additionally, the bills require that all newly-created charter schools give enrollment preference to eligible students who reside within the boundaries of the school district in which the charter school is located and who attend a school site listed on the states school improvement list.

Senate Bill 1862 allows an Indian tribe to form a charter school for the purposes of native language instruction. House Bill 2753 allows the Office of Juvenile Affairs to sponsor one charter school to serve the youth in the custody or supervision of the office.

“Oklahoma has a diverse set of students with varying educational needs, and we need a variety of academic settings to teach them all,” said Republican House Speaker Chris Benge of Tulsa. “This legislation will give children more educational choice in an effort to improve student achievement in our state.”

Senate Bill 1862 passed the House with a vote of 52-42 on Tuesday and now goes to the governor for his final review. House Bill 2753 passed the House with a vote of 67-28 and now returns to the Senate for final consideration.