The General Assembly passed HCR 39 which establishes a task force to study and make recommendations related to school district consolidation. A report will be submitted to the General Assembly no later than January 30, 2018.
HCR 39 was presented to the House for a vote, at the time there were four amendments submitted, one being House Amendment 2. House Amendment 2 required the task force to study and make findings relating to the inclusion of charter schools in school districts and as part of school district consolidation.
The House voted and House Amendment 2 passed the House with support from every Representative including Republicans. At the time, I was extremely impressed that both sides, Republicans and Democrats came together to review all public schools including charter schools.
HCR 39 went over to the Senate and that is where things started to unravel. Sen. Bonini introduced Senate Amendment 1 which would remove the 24 charter schools from the task force and just look at studying the 19 school districts. Sen. Bonini’s amendment could have failed if no Democrats crossed over and voted yes on his amendment – his amendment passed the Senate 12 yes and 8 no. The charter schools were removed from the consolidation study but they still had a seat on the task force. What Sen. Bonini failed to do in his amendment is to remove the Charter Schools Network from having a seat on the task force.
HCR 39 came back to the House with Sen. Bonini’s amendment attached to the resolution. The House needed to vote again on the resolution. When the House was getting ready to vote on the Sen. Bonini’s amendment, I introduced House Amendment 5 which would remove the Charter Schools Network from having a seat on the task force. I asked for a roll call and the amendment barely passed the House, the vote was 21 yes to remove the Charter Schools Network and 20 no’s which would keep the Charter Schools Network on the task force. What surprised me the most is how many Democrats voted to keep the Charter Schools Network on the task force. The entire House originally voted yes to include the charter schools when looking at consolidation. Rep. Jaques called my amendment UNFRIENDLY and he voted no on this amendment. I did not understand why Rep. Jaques had an issue with my amendment because Sen. Bonini is the one who killed Rep. Jaques House Amendment 2 which added charter schools to be reviewed when looking at consolidation. My amendment passed the House and it was then sent back to the Senate and they voted again and it passed.
How can we really look deeply into consolidation when we are not including charter schools. We have 19 school districts and 24 charter schools and each charter school operates as an independent school district. Charter schools do not share positions, for example, a head of curriculum at Providence Creek, that person stays at their charter school. Red Clay School District head of curriculum is shared among 27 schools, not one school. Providence Creek has 700 students and 9 administrators which do not include their specialty staff, if we are going to look at consolidation it must include all public schools! People call charter schools public schools but some members of the General Assembly obviously do not believe this when you look into their voting history.