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Changes Could Come for State's Charter School Cap

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Thirty-five new charter school permits could be issued every year under the newest version of a bill that aims to improve accessibility to open enrollment charters. An earlier version of Senate Bill 2 would have allowed for unlimited growth of charter schools.

The amendments to Sen. Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) bill were offered during this morning’s senate hearing on education. 

Under the new text, independent school districts would also not be required to sell or lease facilities to charter schools; however, independent school districts would be required to give charter schools the right of first refusal, meaning that the ISD would have to post the property and consider a charter school offer to buy or lease the facility before considering any other offer.

Inside and outside of the committee, the cap on charter schools, currently at 215, is a source of debate.

Texas Charter School Association Director David Dunn called the bill, "the greatest strengthening of the Texas charter school law since its adoption in 1995." While Dunn supports the bill in its original text, he said the amendments would still provide a robust environment for the growth of charter schools.

Dunn called expanding open-enrollment schools a necessary condition to meet Texas’ demand, which has more than 100,000 kids on the waiting list.

Critics of charter schools point to their use of public money and the fact they are less regulated than traditional public schools.

A vote on Senator Dan Patrick’s bill is scheduled for Tuesday.

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