Lawmaker breaks ranks with charter school bill

Source: Great Falls Tribune, February 18, 2017

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder broke ranks with many of his fellow Democrats last week when he proposed establishing a statewide public charter school system through House Bill 376. He wants to start a seven-member charter school commission to oversee the new program. … Democrats are generally opposed to charter schools, and a policy adviser for Gov. Steve Bullock spoke against the proposal Wednesday during a hearing before the House Education Committee. The committee has not taken action on the bill yet. … Bullock said last week he has fundamental problems with charter schools, saying he was “skeptical about diverting public dollars to schools that have no accountability.” Windy Boy said in an email his bill does not divert public school funds to any religious or private schools. He said it’s a school within a school. The existing ANB (average number belonging) funding that funds students still exists and will be used to fund students in public charter schools. … The proposal could also face legal challenges. A legislative legal review raised concerns about whether the Legislature has the constitutional authority to establish a charter school commission.