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Don’t blame charter schools


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The primary objection raised by opponents of Question 2 is that charter schools divert state education funding from the traditional public schools to public charter schools.

From my perspective, charter schools have been unfairly singled out as the primary cause of the financial woes facing our rural school districts.

However, according to a new study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, that is not the case, as reported in the Sept. 30 Boston Globe.

“Charter schools,” the report states, “like regional vocational schools and School Choice, are one of a number of public school options available to students within the state’s $12.67 billion school finance system.”

Speaking to that point, one of the key takeaways in the report states that, “Charter school funding is unique in that the state is required to reimburse districts that send students to charter schools for a share of the funding associated with those students. As a result, a student attending a charter school can be more financially favorable to the sending district than other public school attendance options, such as regional vocational schools or school choice.”

You can read the study, funded by the Boston Foundation, by going to: www.masstaxpayers.org and search for “Public Education Funding in Massachusetts: Putting Charter Schools in Context.”

Not acknowledged are the impacts of falling enrollments on the entrenched institutional nature of traditional public education, which makes it difficult to reduce costs. Rural school districts, in particular, face ever increasing opposition from local town officials, whose budgets can no longer accommodate both the rising costs of education, the funding of essential town services and the necessary approval of voters who resist higher taxes.

This is one of the realities that has prompted the formation of the “Rural School Aid” funding proposal within the state’s Chapter 70 Education Aid Program by the new Massachusetts Rural Schools Coalition.

John Bos

Shelburne Falls