Local school districts in Alabama now have the authority to create charter schools.
Gov. Robert Bentley has signed the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, which makes Alabama the 43rd state to provide a way for establishing charters.
For the first five years the law is in effect, a cap of 10 new charters schools will be allowed statewide. However, no limit has been placed on the number of existing schools that can be converted to charters.
Local school boards are authorized to approve or deny applications for charter schools. The law creates the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, an independent 11-member panel that will consider appeals from applicants whose proposals are rejected by local boards.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston.
"We are learning how other states operate charter schools and we have taken the high points from those states in terms of accountability, transparency and performance," Marsh said when he introduced the bill. "Because we are so late to the game, we can ensure Alabama’s charter schools are the best in the nation."