COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The South Carolina Senate is debating a charter school bill that Superintendent Mick Zais calls his top legislative priority.
The state schools chief wants to increase the number of charters statewide.
The bill gives more options for charter schools to form, including sponsorship by a university, and allows for boys-only and girls-only schools.
The bill also requires traditional schools to give charter students access to sports and other extracurricular activities that their schools don't offer.
South Carolina has 17,000 students in 47 charter schools. They are public schools, but they are overseen by a board of parents, teachers and community members, rather than a district board. They're also subject to fewer government regulations than traditional public schools.
The House passed the measure last year. Senate debate will continue next week.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)