By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A bill before the Pennsylvania legislature would grant the state broad, new power to regulate charter schools, including over-ruling local school district decisions on granting charters and setting enrollment goals.

The charter school proposal is actually an amendment to a bill that was supposed to reform special education funding. Education secretary Ron Tomalis says the Corbett Administration thought it would be faster.

“It’s time that we look at the way charter schools are authorized and charter schools are funded.”

But education advocates are concerned. Susan Gobreski of Education Voters says charter school reform is important and needs to be considered on its own.

“The special ed bill has been carefully developed, has broad bipartisan support. And we think it’s a really bad idea to hijack that bill and play politics with it.”

Gobreski and Philadelphia education officials are worried about transferring final authority on charters to the state instead of local districts, who must pay for them and who need firm enrollment figures in order to plan.