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Story cited from by Andy Gammill

Gov. Mitch Daniels took aim Friday at public school districts, urging state legislators to pass a law requiring the districts to transfer their empty buildings to charter schools seeking property. Daniels said public school districts are standing in the path of new charter schools by refusing to sell them unused buildings.

Forcing charter schools to use tax dollars to buy or build new schools when old ones already paid for by taxpayers sit empty is a waste of money, he said. “People say they should sell them,” Daniels said in remarks at a charter school conference. “Sell them? . . . They should give them away. The public already paid for them.”

His blunt criticism of school districts may be a hint of things to come as he becomes more aggressive in pursuing an agenda that Democrats have opposed. The governor has repeatedly focused on education, often using his State of the State and other speeches to tout changes in education. This year, as he signals charter schools will be a focus, that could put traditional school districts in the crosshairs.

On Friday, Daniels singled out Gary Community Schools as sitting on empty buildings that charter schools want. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who oversees most of the city’s charter schools, said the same thing occurs in Indianapolis. Representatives of Gary Community Schools and Indianapolis Public Schools denied they’re discriminating against charters or trying to block them.

IPS is using nearly all of the facilities it has, spokeswoman Kim L. Hooper said, and it offers charter schools a fair chance to buy them when schools are sold. The argument made by Daniels and charter school proponents just doesn’t hold up, Hooper said. “They make it sound like just because a school district closes a school, it should automatically be given to a charter school, which I think is ridiculous.” Charter schools are public schools funded by the state but operated outside traditional school districts. They are given more freedom in areas such as hiring, collective bargaining and curriculum.