Bowen statement on new public charter schools proposals

Commissioner Stephen Bowen issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the submission of five proposals to the Maine Charter School Commission to open charter schools in the fall of 2013.

“Public charter schools are an important part of the growing menu of public school choices for Maine students. Maine is on a clear path to providing more options to more students.This is not an indictment of the schools we currently have. It reflects a growing understanding among Mainers that no one school can be all things to all students. And that it is our responsibility to help families find the right educational environment for their children. As Gov. LePage has said, the wealthy have always had choices; it is our responsibility to ensure that choosing the best choice is not solely the privilege of the privileged.”

4 responses to “Bowen statement on new public charter schools proposals

  1. And as Charters siphon students and monies from the districts in the name of “choice”, what “choice” is there for the 504 student, the students without transportation (which the public schools must provide from their budgets), for the disinterested etc. Is “choosing the best choice is not solely the privilege of the privileged” the true goal here. If so show us charters for special ed that will accept the “tuition” available. Until you do, special ed, 504 etc will remain the truly underprivileged and will become more so to say nothing of all other students not served by the charters.
    The Legislature placed a cap of 10 for good reason. Let’s slow down here.

    • Thanks for your comment. Your concern is shared by all who have been involved in the charter school process. One thing that we are all very attentive to is ensuring that charter schools and other school choice models do not provide an opportunity for some students and not others. The law allowing charter schools is very clear that they may not “pick and choose” students. They cannot choose athletes over non-athletes, or decline to accept special education students, for example. If they have a limited number of spaces and more than that number apply to enroll, they must hold a random lottery. They cannot reject or discourage special education students from enrolling in a charter school.

      • Thank you for the clarification. If a special ed student with many and expensive needs–that are currently being met in public school–were to enroll and be accepted in a charter, would all of his services and “extra” funding follow him/her?

      • Guy, I checked in with Jim Rier, our deputy commissioner and finance guru. Here’s what he explained:

        In the case of a high cost out-of-district placement, there would be no reason for the family/student to enroll in the charter school since the resident district (the district in which the student lives) would be required to cover that anyway.

        In the case of a high cost special education student who is served in the district: if that child enrolls in a charter school, the extra allocation (an extra 128 percent of the basic allocation per child – or, in the neighborhood of $9,000 to $10,000 beyond the standard allocation) would go to the charter school. That is, whatever the district was spending of its own funds and whatever it spending of state funds for that student it would continue to spend on that student by sending those funds (both local and state) to the charter school.

        In both cases – whether the student is in a district school or a charter school – the state covers any costs over 300 percent of base per-pupil rate.

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