Charter school revamp underway in legislature

A bill to improve Ohio’s charter school laws got 20 amendments this morning, including new requirements that charter school operator contracts and school board member names be posted online for public view.

Though there was some concern from Democrats on a provision that would weaken a proposed requirement that a school treasurer be employed by the board, not the charter operator, the revisions got largely favorable reactions.

“I think the changes the House made strengthen the bill,” said Chad Aldis of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a strong charter-school supporter that has been critical of Ohio’s lax oversight. “These reforms are strong enough and have a real chance to change the environment in Ohio.”

House Bill 2 seeks to improve oversight, accountability and transparency of a charter school system that has endured sharp criticism in recent months both in Ohio and nationally, even from groups that are strong supporters of school choice. Ohio, which is spending about $1 billion a year on charters, has been called the “wild, wild west” of charter schools.

State Auditor Dave Yost recently called Ohio’s charter school oversight a “broken system of governance.”

The House Education Committee is likely to vote on House Bill 2 next week. It will reconvene this afternoon, where minority Democrats are expected to propose a host of amendments.

(read more at the Dispatch)