Charter school bill advances

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (wvlt) -- A measure that would create a special panel to authorize charter school applications is advancing in the House.

Republican Rep. Mark White of Memphis sponsored the bill. It was approved on a voice vote in the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday. The companion bill is to be heard in the Senate Education Committee later today.

Currently local school boards decide whether to authorize a charter application. There are 48 charter schools in Tennessee.

Under the new legislation, the nine-member panel would be appointed by the governor and speakers of the House and Senate. Charter applicants would be able to apply to their local school board first, then to the panel if they're turned down. The decision of the panel would be final.

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