A new law will allow charter-school students to attend vocational classes without placing a financial burden on their schools.
The law, SB 1447, enables charter schools to receive the same funding from the state as traditional high school students for Joint Technological Education District, or JTED, programs.
Although the classes are free for students, the state previously paid for a limited amount of class hours for a charter student before subtracting the rest of the money from the charter school's base level funding.
Charter students could only attend JTED classes for a minimum of five hours a week before their schools had funding reduced, said Tina Norton, JTED chief financial officer.
This caused some charter-school administrators to discourage students from taking vocational classes with the agency, Norton said.
About 1,550 students will attend JTED classes this upcoming school year, including 98 from charter schools.
"This perfectly showed charter students and district students both going to the same JTED program, but charter students being treated as worth less," said Eileen Sigmund, president of the Arizona Charter Schools Association.
Sigmund worked with Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, and other lawmakers to craft the language of the bill.
"We want to bring charter students to where district students are," Sigmund said.
Charter-school officials say the law will give more opportunities for charter students who want to study vocational trades.
"It gives kids an opportunity to learn at the community-college level," said Charlene Mendoza, founder and principal at Arizona College Prep Academy.
Some can use vocational skills from JTED classes in a permanent career or to help pay their way at a university, she said.
"JTED really exposes benefits of what higher education can be," she said.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger