AUGUSTA — Senate Democrats on Monday passed a bill designed to give communities more input and control over whether charter schools should be approved, but the measure still faces hurdles.

“As we move forward on implementing charter schools in Maine, it is critical that communities have a voice and that future charter school applicants communicate from day one,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill as written would require that any group or organization that files an application to the Maine Charter School Commission must hold at least three public hearings in the affected region and would then be subjected to a vote. The legislation also would require the education commissioner to review current funding laws and rules for public charter schools and to submit proposed legislation that provides options for funding public charter schools, including but not limited to establishing a new General Fund program account to pay for public charter schools.

“When we make changes to the education system, it should always be done in the best interest of our students,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth, Senate chairwoman of the Education Committee. “We are constantly hearing that decisions should be left to school districts and local communities when it comes to education. This bill gives those very communities more input by ensuring students, parents, teachers, principals, and local school board members are able to weigh in on a proposed charter school.”

The bill still faces a vote in the House and, because of its narrow passage along party lines in the Senate, the measure could be subject to a veto by Gov. Paul LePage, who has been a strong supporter of expanding charter schools in Maine.

Last week, the Maine Charter School Commission announced that it was considering a one-year moratorium on new school applications. So far, five schools have been approved and that state has a current cap of 10 schools.

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