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PA House Takes Another Crack At Charter Schools

A student serves up desert to classmates during lunch at the People for People Charter School, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, in Philadelphia. A new Lunch program called "Eatiquette" aims to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state legislature is returning to one of its toughest recurring issues--charter school reform. Among the provisions laid out in the latest omnibus proposal to get onto the House floor are a standardized application process for schools seeking charters, more consistent school performance rubrics, and an extension of the charter review period from five to ten years.

As often happens, public school and charter school advocates are divided on it.

Ana Meyers, executive director for the state Coalition for Public Charter Schools, said the proposal needs work. In particular, she opposes a $27 million funding cut for online-only charters.

However, she said likes most of it, noting that she backs anything that makes charters more competitive.

"Charter schools and cyber charter schools are run differently than traditional public schools for a reason," she said.

Steve Robinson, with the Pennsylvania School Board Association, said he's concerned the reforms give charters too much of a leg up.

"Traditional public schools are set to a much higher standard than we believe charter schools are," he said."

The measure has passed committee and is now working its way through the House.

It's sponsored by Republican Mike Reese, of Westmoreland County, and is similar to another bill he sponsored that failed last session.