Charter School Funding Causing Debate Among Teachers And Legislatures

By Jackie Pasaol, Parent Herald March 29, 05:00 am

Charter schools continue to gain popularity throughout Massachusetts, but not with good reason. These private schools continue to make headlines as debates on charter school funding continue to heat up. In fact, if the government pushes through with the move, funding for special education might be in jeopardy.

While Gov. Charlie Baker and charter school proponents are pushing to add 12 new charter schools yearly, other parties, on the other hand, think that it's not a good idea. As it turns out, the opposing party believed that more charter schools could only mean less funding for special education.

"Every time they fund a charter school, that takes money away from special education, from low- class size, from English language learners," public school teacher Susan Uvanni said to Lowellsun. "Those are the populations that I serve, and proudly serve and happily serve. And yet when those children become difficult or just don't have success in the charter school, they dump them out."

Billerica Superintendent Tim Piwowar said the involved parties should need to understand the impact charter school funding would have on municipal and regional K-12 systems. For one, he pointed out, in Billerica, there are 199 charter school students and the suburban school districts have to pay $2.5 million for those students.

However, the funding is said to not just be coming out from the school budget. "That's an overall assessment to the town budget that cuts into the aid that we could get to split between municipal and school operations and government here in Billerica," he explained.

Innovation Academy Principal Greg Orpen, however, said that school districts are not the only one struggling with the charter school funding. But notes that charter schools are facing the same challenges as well.

Orpen said the charter school proponents are not eligible to receive funds from Massachusetts School Building Authority. So, all of the charter schools' building expenses come from operating budget.

If legislators don't reach an agreement on Baker's charter school proposal, the public could decide through a voting system this November. While Massachusetts is still tossing the pros and cons of charter schools before deciding, Nashville, on the other hand, is focusing on charter growth. The district is planning to spend $92 million on its 28 charter schools next year, according to The Tennessean.

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