HB672/SB592 would amend the circumstances under which an LEA operating one or more charter schools must share its underutilized or vacant property with any charter school requesting occupancy in that property.
The bill would amend TCA 49-13-104 (11) to more specifically define what constitutes an "underutilized" property, establishing that it is "any building or facility that houses a school in which the total number of students enrolled is less than seventy percent (70%) of the school's enrollment capacity."
The bill would also amend TCA 49-13-136(c) to require that such an LEA must catalog annually a list of all underutilized or vacant properties, which list must be submitted to the Department of Education, the Comptroller of the Treasury, and the TN Charter School Association. It would require that all such underutilized or vacant properties be made available for charter schools' use, "to include a shared occupancy by charter schools."
Finally, the bill would require that any charter school applicant and LEA at odds over the charter school occupying the underutilized or vacant property must agree on one of three arbitrators to assist the parties in settling their differences, with costs to be borne by the unsuccessful party.
Here in Knox County, the recently expanded 2100-seat Karns High, presently serving 1236 students, is 59% occupied.
A new 750-seat Carter Elementary, which school now serves 506 students, is expected to be 67% occupied at its opening.
Both capital projects were poor decisions on the part of the Board of Education, of course, so they've no one to blame but themselves if students in these schools should soon be asked to scoot over.
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