FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill funding charter schools cleared another legislative hurdle Monday as session winds down.

What You Need To Know

  • House Bill 9 would fund charter schools with state dollars

  • Charter schools were made legal in Kentucky in 2017, but none have been approved

  • Charter schools are public schools run by private companies

  • The legislation barely cleared the threshold for a potential veto override in the House

The Senate Education Committee passed House Bill 9, sending it to the Senate floor.

Public schools in Kentucky are funded by the SEEK formula, which follows the student where they go, and House Bill 9 allows money from that formula to go to charter schools.

“That is important because, as most of you know, we have not had anybody apply for a charter school,” Rep. Chad McCoy (R-Bardstown) said. “And the reason is they don’t know how the things are going to be funded, so at least putting this in place, they will be able to make an application.”

Charter schools are public schools run by private companies. McCoy said his bill would prevent those companies from exploiting the system.

“There are some horror stories, right, but there are also some shining examples,” he said. “So let’s do what we can to bring a good one in so folks like the pastor here and the kids in his community have that opportunity.”

House Bill 9 also requires Louisville and Northern Kentucky to have a charter school.

Supporters, including pastor Jerry Stephenson with Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition, say Louisville’s school will go in the West End to help minority students.

“About 15 to 20% of our African American students receive a world-class education,” he told the committee. “Our concern is about that 80% [that do not].”

Most public education groups are opposed to this bill because they believe it’ll mean less money for Kentucky’s public schooling system.

“This bill, on its face, may appear to be a hand up for those who need it most,” Boone County Education Association president Kelly Read said. “It is, in fact, a hand out for those who need it least.”

The bill passed with 51 votes in the House, just enough to clear a potential veto from Gov. Andy Beshear. Teacher’s union KY 120 United-AFT filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Kim Banta (R-Fort Mitchell), saying she should have recused herself instead of voting for the bill because her husband works for a company that is trying to build a potential charter school in Northern Kentucky.