TAKE ACTION: MA Charter School Funding Formula to be Voted on TODAY

Massachusetts Charter Public School Association writes:

On Monday (TODAY!) the Massachusetts State Senate will vote on a new Education Reform Bill. This bill contains a proposal that will significantly endanger charter school funding by putting up to 20% of our funds in a line-item subject to annual appropriation.

Please email your state senator immediately and ask them to:

Support the Hart and Tisei Amendments to provide equal funding for charter school students.

Just click here to send an email. It is easy!

Massachusetts Charter Public School Association
10 Tremont Street, 6FL Boston, MA 02108 • (617) 523-0881
132 Main Street Haydenville, MA 01039 • (413) 268-3361


One Comment on “TAKE ACTION: MA Charter School Funding Formula to be Voted on TODAY

  1. MCPSA analysis of Senate Ways and Means version
    and Proposed Amendments
    November 13, 2009

    The MCPSA is deeply concerned about a number of proposals within the Senate Ways and Means version of the Education Reform bill.

    According to the MCPSA’s analysis the Senate Ways and Means version of the Education Reform bill contains proposals that will:

    create a separate and potentially unequal funding system for charter school students;
    significantly restrict and stifle charter school growth and innovation;
    establish unworkable enrollment application quotas;
    create havoc for high performing urban charter schools and their students

    I. The bill creates a separate and unequal funding system for charter school students

    The bill decouples approximately 20% of charter school funding from Chapter 70 funding including all charter school growth and puts it in a line-item subject to annual appropriation. This means that 100% of the first year of any charter school and subsequent years of growth will be subject to the annual appropriation process. This will inevitably lead to a loss of funding for charter school students compared to their peers in the sending districts. This provision will also have a chilling effect on applicants interested in applying for new charters, thus contributing a further restriction on charter school growth and innovation. (lines 1175-1224, 1248-1260).

    Amendments Proposed:

    Senator Hart; Charter Funding (clerk #79), Senator Tisei: Charter Funding and Reimbursement (clerk #56), Charter School Funding Reimbursement (clerk #60), Charter Funding II (clerk #63). These amendments will restore the charter school funding formula to the existing statute.

    Senator Spilka; Establishing a Charter School Working Group (clerk #57). this amendment will create a legislative study group to examine charter school financing, district reimbursement, and the dissemination of best practices.

    II. The bill will significantly restrict and stifle charter school growth and innovation in greater ways than in existing statute

    While the bill eliminates existing statewide caps on commonwealth charters, new provisions in the bill will create new and significant restrictions on charter school growth and innovation beyond what exists in present statute.

    The bill proposes that at least 3 of the new commonwealth charters approved by the state each year shall be granted for commonwealth charter schools located in districts in the lowest 10%.” (line 841). and restricts charters in these lowest 10% performing districts to be opened only by proven providers. (849)

    Present statute requires the first three charters granted each year to be in districts at the statewide midpoint of MCAS performance and has no clause restricting charters to proven providers.

    As a result, if three new charters in the10% lowest performing districts proposed by proven providers are not approved then no new charters can be granted anywhere in the state, whether it be in the lowest 10% performing districts or elsewhere.

    This exclusive focus on proven providers in the lowest 10% performing districts will also severely stifle innovation in these districts. There must be room under the existing 9% district cap for new providers to bring innovation to these and other districts.

    Amendment Proposed:

    Sen. Tisei: New Charter Approval Process (clerk #80). This amendment would restore the existing language that requires the first 3 charters every year to be in districts below the MCAS midpoint, and requires charter applicants to be proven providers only in when a sending district goes above 9% net school spending.

    III. The bill creates enrollment application quotas

    The bill contains new requirements to focus recruitment and retention efforts on high need students, a worthy objective and one that charter schools agree with. However, the bill proposes that charter schools shall set annual goals for “the number of students in the categories of students identified in the plan who seek to enroll in the school” (785). It then states that the state can impose conditions or financial sanctions if insufficient progress towards these goals is achieved. (1155)

    This provision is unworkable and sets up charters for failure. Charters are not allowed, nor wish to require parents to provide the information about their child on a charter school application necessary to make this provision work. Charters are not allowed to require a parent to disclose if an applying student is a special education student, an English limited proficient student, is eligible for free or reduced lunch, has scored in the needs improvement, warning or failing categories on the MCAS for 2 of the past 3 years, are at risk of dropping out of schools based on predictors determined by the department, or are a member of a group that is suffering from the achievement gap.

    Amendments Proposed:

    Sen. Tisei: Charter School Demographics (clerk #82) and Enrollment Quotas (clerk #36) These amendments would revise language concerning Recruitment and Retention activities so that charter schools are not subject to non-renewal for student demographics that they cannot control.

    IV. The bill will create havoc for high performing charter schools serving high need students

    The bill contains a provision that requires charter schools to fill a mid or end of year vacancy in the same grade in which it occurs. (956) This “backfilling” provision will create havoc in high performing schools that have proven so successful in closing the achievement gap.

    While the intent of this provision to make sure that as many students as possible have access to these high performing urban charter schools is a noble one and one supported by charter schools, the implementation of this provision within the bill will seriously threaten the success of these schools. It will also be unfair to students in the school as well as students entering the school without the preparation that comes with the initial grades.

    A major component of the success of high performing charter schools is the creation of a culture of high expectations and standards. This culture is created with great care, deliberation and hard work. It entails intensive focus on the students from the moment they enter the school. The culture is essential in creating an environment that addresses the social and intellectual challenges that face high need children in urban communities.

    If such a policy is implemented students will enter these high performing charter schools usually at least 2 or 3 years behind their peers in academic preparation. This will force the schools to demote the student to a lower grade or hold them back at the end of the year. Many, if not all, of these students, when faced with such an action will choose to return to the district schools thus increasing the attrition rate, creating a churning of students within the school and the district and a serious disruption in the educational environment of these students and those already enrolled in the school.

    Amendments Proposed:

    Sen. Hart: Filling Charter Vacancies (clerk #78) This amendment offers a compromise where a more limited requirement is proposed that only applies to new charters approved after January 1, 2010.

    Sen. Tisei: Vacancy Requirements (clerk #50) This amendment will strike the language concerning “backfilling”

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