SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Late Wednesday afternoon, State Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, passed legislation aimed to increase accountability and transparency for charter schools by improving policies for school lotteries, standards for a school's governing body and reporting spending of public funds.
"The legislative process can sometimes be acrimonious and cumbersome, but creating an atmosphere for learning is worth the debate," Welch said. "I am glad we were able to bring the proponents and opponents of the bill to the table and strike an agreement in order to provide a better educational environment for parents, students, and taxpayers."
Welch sponsored House Bill 3232 to require charter operators to give the public and parents a better understanding of how resources are appropriated and accounted for in the charter school. Working with Sen. Jacqueline Collins and gaining the support of the Chicago Teacher's Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association, Welch's bill works to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately. This measure requires the governing body of a closing charter school to refund all unspent public funds and allows oversight bodies to require a quarterly financial statement and other transparency measures, if deemed necessary.
Additionally, House Bill 3232 requires admissions lotteries to be videotaped, prohibits charter operators from creating additional steps for admission, such as requiring student essays or student-parent compacts, and bans charter schools from employing anyone who is also employed by a charter management company.
"This legislation is about accountability and ensuring that public resources are used in a responsible manner," Welch said. "This bill helps to guarantee that the state resources earmarked for the classroom are protected and spent in the classroom, so our investments are best serving education in Illinois."