Charter schools bill fails in Kansas House committee

? With both sides claiming they wanted what was best for students, a bill that would have expanded charter schools in Kansas was rejected on Friday.

House Bill 2320 failed on a 9-10 vote in the House Education Committee.

“This adds to public education and choices for children,” said Committee chairwoman Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, who was pushing for passage of the legislation.

But opponents criticized parts of the bill that said the new charter schools wouldn’t be required to hire certified teachers, and they voiced fears that the schools would skim off top students from the public school system.

“I see this as a very dangerous trend for a district like mine,” said state Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway.

Kelley responded that legislators should focus on helping students. Rooker said it was important that “we don’t do damage to the public school that is for every student.”

Charter schools are already allowed in Kansas but they operate within a school district and are subject to accreditation requirements. The Lawrence Virtual School is a charter school.

HB 2320 would have allowed any public or private post-secondary institution, the governing board of a city, county or local school board to authorize charter schools, which would be exempt from many state laws and regulations.

Only Republicans voted for the bill, while a mix of Republicans and Democrats voted against it.