With two new amendments that will give power back to charter schools, HB2, a public education budget bill for fiscal year 2010, passed the Senate Wednesday with a 15 to 9 vote.
HB2, as approved in the House Tuesday, prohibited the expansion of charter school capacity in the 2010-2011 school year. It also gave schools districts more of an out in having to help fund charter schools.
Amendments today by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, reversed those two aspects of the bill. The bill will now be returned to the House for agreement on the amendments.
HB2 also outlines the Legislature's decision to implement 6 percent in public education budget cuts for 2010 and identifies one-time revenue sources from the federal stimulus money that is being used to balance the 2010 budget.
Rep. Merlynn Newbold, R-South Jordan, sponsored HB2 for the public education appropriations subcommittee, which resulted in a major outcry from the charter school community.
Judi Clark, spokeswoman for Parents for Choice in Education, a non-profit group that supports the charter school movement, issued a statement Tuesday encouraging 10,000 people to call their lawmaker and decry HB2.
"It's really important charters continue to be a viable choice for Utah children. We're happy to see the Senate values charters and the solution they bring," Clark said after the vote Wednesday.
Carolyn Sharette, director of American Preparatory Academy charter school, slated to open fall 2010, said she believed some lawmakers "just don't understand the timelines that have been created" by the state charter and education boards.
The State Board of Education has approved five charter schools to open fall 2010:
American Preparatory Academy, Jordan School District;
Maria Montessori Academy, Weber School District;
Quail Run Primary School, Alpine School District;
Weilenmann School of Discovery, Park City;
Summit Academy, Draper.
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