Following hours of amendments and debate Wednesday evening, the House of Delegates passed House Bill 206 on a 51-47 vote.
During this three-day session, the House split into four education committees with House Bill 206 originating in House Select Committee on Education C. Senate Bill 1039, the Student Success Act, was referenced to this committee, but the committee instead took up the originating bill.
Like previous versions of education reform from this Legislature, House Bill 206 includes a variety of proposed changes to the education system, including pay raises, charter schools, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for small or struggling counties.
However, the bill marked several changes from Senate Bill 1039.
As passed out of House Select Committee on Education C, the bill capped charter schools at 10, providing charters to go into effect for the 2021 school year. Before applying to form a charter school, a group would have to have or have submitted an application for a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Higher education institutions also could submit applications to form charter schools.
County school boards would then make the decision whether to approve the application except in cases where the state school board intervened in the school system’s operations or in cases where the county school board forwarded an application to the state school board.
The committee hosted a public hearing Wednesday morning on the bill and took up House Bill 206 in the afternoon session.
During amendment stage, 21 changes were considered, with 14 adopted into the bill.
The biggest change to the bill came from a floor amendment offered by Delegate Espinosa (R-Jefferson, 66) and adopted by the body.
The amendment would initially establish three pilot charter schools until 2023. After that, every three years, there could potentially be three more. The State School Board would report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA) by Nov. 1 2022, and every three years thereafter, on the status of the state's charter schools. LOCEA would report its findings and recommendations, if any, to the Legislature during its next regular session.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The House has adjourned pending the call of the Chair.