Legislation to ease access to buildings and money for charter schools was approved late Thursday after a failed attempt to merge it with a school grant program as the legislative session neared its final hour.
House Bill 430 calls on state education agencies to establish charter school authorizing standards, and mandates hearings for charter schools that are trying to obtain unused school buildings.
The legislation by Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, also ensures that charter schools get a proportional share of certain federal school funding, and it establishes a $100,000 grant fund for charter school facilities.
After 8 p.m. on the final legislative day, the Senate tacked on Senate Bill 30 by Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, minority whip and Atlanta mayoral candidate. His “community schools” bill outlines a pilot program that would bring faith-based groups, businesses, and philanthropies together to help students at struggling schools.
Because of the amendment, the package was returned to the House, which sent it back to the Senate without the amendment two hours later. Then, just minutes before midnight, the Senate approved the changes, sending the bill to the governor.
“This legislation is a positive step forward for public charter schools in Georgia and will help them ensure the best possible educational experience for tens of thousands of children,” said Tony Roberts, president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.