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(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas House has passed a bill that would change the way the state approves charter schools.

The House on Thursday voted 87-0 in favor of a bill by Republican Rep. Mark Biviano of Searcy that would designate the state Education Department and not the Board of Education as the primary authorizer of charter schools.

Biviano’s proposal would require the state education commissioner to appoint a panel of his staff to review and approve charter school applications. The Board of Education would have the power to review that panel’s decisions.

Biviano had originally proposed legislation that would have taken the power to approve charter schools from the state board and would have created a new independent commission to consider applications.

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