Charter school proponents, opponents rally on bills

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two bills under consideration in Rhode Island’s General Assembly would put new rules and stipulations on the application process and operation of charter schools in communities. Not only would the state’s education authority have a say in locating charter schools, the bills would give local government — school committees and town or city councils — the ability to say whether a charter school should be located in their municipality.

The House bill also includes a provision that puts any new applications to open charter schools on hold for one year. The lawmakers are still in the process of crafting the legislation.

On Tuesday morning, the Rhode Island Association of School Committees and the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association held a news conference at the rotunda of the State House, to show support for the bills, sponsored by Sen. Adam Satchell and Rep. Patricia Serpa.

Tuesday afternoon, the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools will hold a rally against the bills; the organization says they would give any community complete veto power over a new charter school application for any reason — and make it harder to open charter schools.

There’s plenty of demand to get into charter schools. The Providence Journal reported back in January that 13,000 kids applied in 2014 for a total of 1,000 openings.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare will consider Serpa’s bill 5160 on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Education will consider Satchell’s bill 87.