Charter Schools Under Debate in Boston by Councilors, Parents - NECN


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Charter Schools Under Debate in Boston by Councilors, Parents

Full city council will review the resolution during a meeting later in the week



    Councilors, Parents Debate Charter School Ballot Question

    Voters will get to decide if they want more charter schools in the Commonwealth this November, despite a push-back from city leaders in Boston. (Published Monday, Aug. 1, 2016)

    Two Boston city councilors have come out in opposition to a ballot question that would allow for more charter schools to be established in Massachusetts.

    In a resolution released to the public on Monday, Councilors Matt O'Malley and Tito Jackson wrote the city will lose $158.28 million to Commonwealth charter schools next year, which they said is 5 percent of the entire budget.

    "This is a bait and switch that puts two groups of folks who need resources and pits them against one another," said Jackson. "Rather than saying, 'Hey, fund all schools in a way that is actually going to be sustainable.'"

    For years, the debate over funding for public schools and charter schools has been growing more heated. While school districts are supposed to be reimbursed by the state for funds lost to charter schools, the money has decreased over time. In 2015, for example, Mayor Marty Walsh said reimbursements were under-funded by 50 percent.

    "It would be financially unfeasible for our public schools to continue down this pathway," said O'Malley.

    But proponents of the schools urge voters to support the question that will be on the ballot in November. Currently, more than 30-thousand kids are on waiting lists for charter schools around the state. Approximately 12-thousand of those students are in Boston. If approved, the state would remove a cap it's placed on charter schools, allowing for 12 new schools or school expansions every year.

    "Parents should have an option to where they want to send a kid to school," said Sheyla Negron of Roslindale.

    A mother of 3, Negron said she worked hard to ensure all of her kids were placed in charter schools, something she wishes she could have experienced as a student.

    "I simply didn't get the education I thought I deserved," Negron said. "Unfortunately, the options that I had at the time weren't great."

    According to data from Families for Excellent Schools, a group that supports charter schools, Boston currently receives the highest per pupil funding of any large, urban city in the country. They argue charter schools are enhancing public education, not hurting it.

    The full city council will review the resolution during a council meeting on Wednesday.

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