Following several hearings on the issue and meetings with private charters, the Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams is ready to add nearly a dozen new charter schools to state system.
Under a new law first authored by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the state is able to raise the number of charter school contracts from the current 215 schools to 305 by 2019.
Williams is wasting no time selecting a number of new schools allowed to operate in Texas. He said he was hit with 31 applications once the law took effect.
"About 17 of them made the cut to move on to the second phase and TEA staff as well as with the assistance of the state board are now in a position to recommend to me those to which I should grant charters to and those to which I should deny," Williams said.
Williams said he’s putting off that decision until Sept. 27 to allow for more public comment on the issue.
Part of the new law removed the State Board of Education as the governing body of the charter school issue, which includes revoking a failing charter school ability to operate inside Texas.
"When we had the authority to grant a charter but we could also revoke a charter it was simply a member vote and if you had eight of the 15 votes that charter was out of there," said State Board member David Bradley. "And you could deal with those charters very effectively. It was some 10 years ago that responsibility got moved to the commissioner and it can take them years."
Bradley said that can result in the state losing tens of millions of dollars correcting a failing school’s pattern.