Superintendents Weigh in on Charter Schools Debate

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Lawmakers have finished revising a bill that would authorize charter schools in Alabama.

Supporters of The Education Options Act (H.B. 541)  say the system would save the states most chronically failing schools.
Charter Schools would free public schools from many state regulations and guidelines that control curriculum and employment.

Local school district leaders are still making up their mind about the bill.

"I think the more flexibility we have for the school district the more things we can offer and better help our children," said Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools.

While Fowler says he is excited to see the final bill, the Superintendent of Madison County Schools is not so taken.

"I`ve dealt a lot in another state with charter schools," said Dr. David Copeland.  "I`m really not in favor if they take funding from public schools. It’s my understanding that some of the funds would be diverted, which would hurt public schools in Alabama."

Huntsville City Schools dr. Casey Wardynski also casts a wary eye. He's withholding judgment until he reads the revised bill.

"Charter schools in themselves aren`t good or bad, they`re just a tool but how you use the tool is the real question," explained Wardynski.  "The charter school tool is going to be imbedded in a thing called a law and how that law is written is going to be important."

Under the revised proposal, a max of 20 charter schools can be approved before 2017, and only by districts with the lowest performing schools.

Right now there are about 22 districts in the state that qualify for a charter school, Huntsville city is one of them.

The bill will be taken up for a house committee vote Thursday morning.