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Panel nixes transportation aid for charter schools

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An Indiana Senate panel eliminated part of a proposal on Wednesday that would have required traditional public schools to help provide transportation to students attending charter schools.

The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee approved the change, which makes the legislation aimed at expanding charter schools more palatable to traditional public schools. Some traditional school districts said it would have been too expensive to help provide transportation to charter schools, which are public schools free of many state regulations and, often, teacher union contracts.

The committee also made some other changes before approving the bill, such as taking away the ability for mayors of smaller cities to authorize charter schools. Supporters said smaller cities may not have the resources to provide rigorous oversight of charter schools.

"I think all of our goals need to be raising the achievement of students," said Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary. "There is a balance that can be struck between charters and traditional public schools. With these amendments what we do is create an atmosphere in which both can accomplish what their missions are."

The goal of the bill — which is part of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' sweeping education agenda — is to expand charter schools and give families more education options. The bill would create a state board to authorize more charter schools, and would give authorizing authority to private colleges and universities. Currently only the mayor of Indianapolis and public universities that offer four-year degrees can sponsor charter schools.

The bill would also allow charter schools to buy or lease for $1 a year unused buildings owned by traditional school corporations. And it would increase accountability for charters, providing penalties for chronically underperforming charter schools.

The Education Committee voted 8-2 for the amended bill, which next heads to another Senate committee for consideration.

The changes made Wednesday may complicate the bill's future because any changes would have to win approval from the GOP-led House before becoming law. Democrats are currently boycotting the House, and could put the bill in jeopardy if they continue to do so long term. Charter school supporters are hopeful that that won't happen, however, and House Democrats say the charter school legislation is not one of the main bills they are trying to derail with their boycott.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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