By Monica Stabile
New legislation calling for a halt to new charter schools in areas that have closed traditional public schools in the past decade passed a House committee in the Illinois statehouse Tuesday.
The bill is one of several in the Illinois General Assembly dealing with charter schools amid increased attention to the issue by the federal government.
Chicago Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi, the sponsor of House Bill 3567, characterizes the measure as requiring fiscal responsibility among school districts. Financially-distressed school districts shouldn’t be paying for new schools if they can’t pay for their existing ones, Guzzardi said. The proposed legislation would not affect existing charter schools, he added.
The bill passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Charter School Policy Committee on Tuesday and now faces a vote before the full House chamber.
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools is against limiting school choice for parents, said Ariel Johnson, a lobbyist for INCS. There has been a decrease in charter school openings in recent years, Johnson said.
The bill is one of several on charter schools under consideration in the state legislature as the federal government eyes expanding school choice. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a longtime advocate of charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools. DeVos was named to the post by President Donald Trump, whose federal budget outline calls for cuts to education spending but an increase in school choice funding.
One charter school bill in Illinois would revoke the power of the Illinois Charter School Commission to override a school district’s rejection of new charter schools. House Bill 768, sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Westchester, also passed the education committee Tuesday.
Another bill, sponsored by Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, would create a voucher program for school choice in Illinois. Currently, charter schools are funded with a portion of the host district’s property taxes, if approved by the district, or with a portion of the host district’s state aid, if approved by the Illinois Charter School Commission. House Bill 443 awaits a committee vote.
Other bills related to charter schools or school choice include:
Contact Monica Stabile at firstname.lastname@example.org.