A committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved new policies aimed at making it easier to open charter schools.
The plan, which stems from a law passed earlier this year, is expected to win final approval on Wednesday from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Charter schools are public schools run by nongovernmental groups.
BESE has approved nearly 100 of the schools in the past seven years.
About 45,000 students attend the schools in 15 parishes, including East Baton Rouge.
The change requires local school boards to use the same timelines, standards and common charter applications as BESE.
Under the rules, BESE will have to approve the local applications by June 30.
Charter school advocates have said in the past that varying rules from district to district have held down the number of charter schools.
They say that was part of an effort by officials of traditional public schools to bottle up potential competitors.
Under the new rules, local school boards are to initially release charter applications by Sept. 10.
They are due by Oct. 19, with approvals announced by Jan. 31, 2013.
Other changes in the new law abolished the rule that most charter school teachers have to be certified and now allow charter operators in school districts rated D or F by the state to apply directly to BESE.
The applications cover issues like the mission of the school, leadership, the education program, teaching, governance and financial management.
Backers contend the schools offer students in troubled schools another option to attend quality classrooms, without much of the red tape that they say is common in traditional public schools.
Nearly 80 percent of students in New Orleans attend charter schools, and backers say many of those students have shown striking gains compared to their previous performance at other schools.
Opponents contend that charter schools have failed to deliver on promises of major education gains and that they are diverting vital dollars that otherwise would go to Louisiana’s roughly 1,300 traditional public schools.
The changes were approved by BESE’s School Innovation and Turnaround Committee.
Once the new rules are approved by the full board they are subject to public comments before they are finalized.