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Mississippi Senate Revives Charter School Legislation

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 11 Apr 2012 05:28pm | comments

The Mississippi House of Representatives could vote on a revived Charter School bill as soon as today. Senators brought the once dead bill expanding charter schools in the state back to life in a Wednesday vote. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

Mississippi Senators attached most of the original charter school legislation to an existing bill and successfully revived the attempts to expand charter school legislation in the state.

During one hour of floor debate, Education committee chairman Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford again defended charter schools as one mechanism to improve education throughout Mississippi.

"Lets give it a chance and see how they work and if they work well we can emulate their success in our public schools. Let’s give them a chance and where they are working those ideas work well," Tollison said.

The original charter school bill died in a House committee.

This bill by-passes that committee and will give all 122 house members a chance to approve the bill and send it to the governor or invite a conference between the two chambers.

Following Wednesday's vote, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves called on the house to pass the bill.

"We need to pass laws that are good for all Mississippians. And this is an opportunity for us to do that. I am optimistic that the members of the house will look at this legislation and do the right thing for the kids in our state," Reeves said.

Charter School legislation has been a key priority for the state Republicans who have majorities in both chambers for the first time since reconstruction.

The vote in the House could be one of the last chances for the legislation.

Governor Phil Bryant had previously considered calling a special session to focus on Charter Schools but now says he will only do so if there is a guarantee of success.

"If the Speaker and the Lt. Governor will work with me, certainly I will call a special session. But I won't if it is doomed to fail. If we do not have the votes, for example on the house floor, I will not waste the time or the resources in calling a special session," Bryant said.

While Representatives could vote in the near future, the actual deadline for action in the house is not until later this month.

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