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Proposal would expand charter schools


MADISON (WSAU) School districts would not be the only ones to operate specialized charter schools, under a bill endorsed yesterday by the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The panel voted to let independent groups run charter schools in districts with more than 2,000 students. That would cover about a quarter of the state’s 400-plus school systems.

Republican finance co-chair Robin Vos said it would provide more options for families who believe that public schools are failing their kids. But Democrats say the measure is being pushed by those who don’t like public schools and want to take away some of their power. They also said it would take more money away from districts that have already lost $800-million in state aid in the current budget. Independent charter schools operate in Milwaukee. And the bill creates a new statewide board that would approve and regulate the independent schools in the new areas.

State school superintendent Tony Evers would sit on that panel, along with members appointed by the governor and Legislature. Local school boards would have no say in the schools they create. Assembly Democrat Cory Mason of Racine says it would “unravel a 100-year tradition” of local school control – and he called the new statewide board an “unnecessary bureaucracy.”