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updated: 3/6/2014 10:18 PM

Should voters get say in charter schools?

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  • Linda Chapa LaVia

      Linda Chapa LaVia

 
By Zachary White
zwhite@dailyherald.com

A new proposal would give local voters a chance to say whether they want a charter school in their district.

Last year, 18 suburban school districts rejected adding a proposed online charter school in the area.

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The Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley wanted to educate students online in districts ranging from Algonquin to Plainfield. When school boards rejected it, the company appealed to state education officials but later dropped the effort.

A proposal from state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, would let local voters reject a charter school.

The question would go to the voters only if state officials gave the OK to a charter school proposal that a local school board had previously denied.

"They're the ones paying for the school, right?" Chapa LaVia said.

A House committee approved the plan this week by an 11-1 vote, sending it to the full House for further debate.

Charter school backers, though, said having a districtwide referendum limits the ability of charter school operators to propose innovative options and essentially takes away their right to appeal.

Kip Kolkmeier, a spokesman for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, questioned the value of an appeal process if local voters would get the final say anyway.

"We do not believe locals should be able to overturn a state decision," said Kip Kolkmeier, a spokesman for Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

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