Question 2: What's Best for Education in Boston? - NECN


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Question 2: What's Best for Education in Boston?



    But many worry that it will hurt funding for the public school system. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016)

    The future of thousands of students will be in the hands of Massachusetts voters next month.

    Question 2 asks whether the state should lift its cap on charter schools, allowing more to open or expand every year.

    There are currently 78 charter schools operating in the Bay State. The cap is set at 120 statewide, although some districts, like Boston, say they've reached their limits or are coming close.

    Education is a tale of two cities in Boston. Tuesday, Shellina Semexant, the mother of two charter school students, was knocking on doors in the hope of her third child finding a seat with them.

    "I have a daughter who has been on a wait list for four years," she said. "She's been in an underperforming school for four years."

    If the ballot initiative passes, it could bring more seats to charter schools by lifting a cap, allowing 12 new charter schools or expansions annually.

    In Semexant's city, there are other schools. Boston Public Schools educate about 56,000 students, with charter schools in the city accounting for about 8,000.

    The district argues that charters are costly. When a student leaves public schools to go to a charter in Boston, it costs about $15,000. For a new charter, the district is supposed to get reimbursed from the state over a six-year period. But in Boston and around the state, that hasn't exactly been happening.

    According to the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, this fiscal year, there were 71 charters in the state. Districts paying for them were reimbursed $73 million. But that is about 62 percent of what it should be.

    "I think it's really hurting the public school system," argued Monique Burks, the mother of a Boston Public Schools student.

    Burks' son joined others opposed to Question 2 Tuesday to cold call voters, hoping they'll keep the cap in place.

    "It's taking so much funding from our existing public schools," she said.

    Boston is one of seven districts in the state that spends more than 9 percent of total education spending on charters. So when you look at the numbers, and the students, you have two schools of thought in one city.

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