BOE passes on charter schools authorization

Published 2:07 pm Friday, August 21, 2015

The Butler County Board of Education will not become a charter schools authorizer — at least not yet.

Charter schools are schools that receive public money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations and statutes that apply to other public schools. Private groups who desire to set up a charter school must first apply to the state board of education in order to operate, and the school must continue to meet certain academic benchmarks in order to continue to receive funding.

Under the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, a local board of education can register with the Alabama State Department of Education for chartering authority within the boundaries of the school system overseen by the local school board. As an authorizer, the local school board may approve the conversion of an existing school to a public charter school, and the board may also approve or deny an application to form a start-up charter school within its boundaries.

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School boards have until Sept. 1 to submit an application to become an authorizer for charter schools.

With the deadline coming up so quickly, and with many questions still left unanswered, members of the board believe that waiting until next year would be the most beneficial course of action for the school system.

“The legislature just released this and now it will be very expensive for us to put a team together by Sept. 1. I think we’re probably making the right decision to slow it down,” said BOE president Linda Hamilton.

Board member Brandon Sellers said he believes making the decision to become a charter schools authorizer is not one that should be made hastily.

“From a legal perspective, throwing something together that once we’ve thrown together, we have a hard time backing back out of, it’s the lawyer sense that we better have it right or as close to right as we possibly can,” said Sellers.

The state is going to allow the creation of 10-12 charter schools throughout Alabama.

The board plans to continue to explore the possibility of becoming a charter schools authorizer.

The BOE will hold its budget hearings Sept. 10 and Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Butler County Board of Education Central Office boardroom. The next regular meeting is slated for Sept. 17 at 6 p.m.