General Assembly considers constitutional amendments on charter schools

January 28, 2016

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After receiving the necessary approval in the first year of consideration, the General Assembly is considering several initiatives that would amend the Constitution by allowing the Board of Education (BOE) to approve the establishment of charter schools. Constitutional amendments can only be accepted through referendum after being approved in two successive legislative sessions with an intervening popular elections for seats in the General Assembly.

Currently, charter schools may only be approved by local school boards. There are now nine charter schools in Virginia. This bill would transfer the authority from localities to the state to approve charter schools. VACo’s 2016 Legislative Program opposes approval of charter schools by a state board.

The following are General Assembly initiatives to amend the Constitution to allow state-level approval of charter schools.

HB 3 (Robert Bell) provides for a referendum at the November 8, 2016, election to approve or reject an amendment to grant the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth, subject to any criteria or conditions that the General Assembly may prescribe. HB 3 was referred to the House Privileges and Elections Committee.

HJR 1 (Robert Bell)/SJR 6 (Obenshain) grant the Board of Education authority, subject to criteria and conditions prescribed by the General Assembly, to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth. The bills were referred to the House Privileges and Elections Committee. These are the second resolution for Senate Joint Resolution 256 (2015). SJR 6 is being considered by the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

SJR 93 (Obenshain) provides by resolution for a referendum at the November 8, 2016, election to approve or reject an amendment to grant the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth, subject to any criteria or conditions that the General Assembly may prescribe. SJR 93 is being considered by the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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