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April 16, 2007 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES CHARTER SCHOOL REFORM BILL

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Plano Senator Florence Shapiro's bill that would provide facilities funding for well-performing charter schools and allow the state to close poor performing charter schools was passed by the Senate Monday.

(AUSTIN) -- The Senate passed a bill Monday that would reward charter schools that perform well, but would permit the state to revoke charters of schools that are poor academic performers. Senate Bill 4, by Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, would create a system where charter schools that are ranked as "recognized" or "exemplary" by the Texas Education Agency two years in a row are given grants to be used for facility construction. Charter schools that fail to pass at least 25 percent of their students in reading and math tests required by the state could be closed. This bill, said Shapiro, will give the state greater latitude to reward good schools, but also remove bad ones. "For the first time in the state since we started charter schools, we finally have a mechanism to close those that are bad actors," she said.

Another bill tentatively passed Monday would change the way the state determines U.S. Congressional Districts received tentative approval Monday. The bill by San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth would give a bipartisan redistricting committee authority to draw congressional lines in the state. Each chamber would appoint four members to the committee, two from each major party. This committee would meet from February to June in every year that redistricting occurs, which is normally the year after the national census is taken. Should the committee deadlock over a district map, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court could appoint a ninth member to break the tie. The bill is expected to face a final vote Tuesday.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 17, at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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