Bill mandating revenue sharing with charters is a bad idea
Englewood, January 17, 2017 – The Colorado Association of School Executives announced today its opposition to Senate Bill 61, which would require school districts to share with charter schools mill levy override dollars already approved by voters. This proposal would take away local money from neighborhood schools at a time when public education is already very underfunded, and when districts are struggling to sustain program and service levels for students.
Senate Bill 61 represents an attack on local control and an overreach into the responsibilities and roles of locally-elected school boards. Mill levies are raised based on the unique needs of communities, and this one-size-fits-all mandate sidesteps school boards that are in the best position to make decisions about the use of local taxpayer funds. Additionally, charter schools are subject to a different degree of accountability to local taxpayers. School boards in individual communities are the appropriate entity to have discussions and make decisions about mill levy equalization that are most consistent with the intent of voters.
“This bill would take ongoing local dollars from an already-underfunded system, away from neighborhood schools that are dependent on them,” said CASE President and Littleton Assistant Superintendent/Chief Financial Officer Diane Doney. “The mill levy override dollars that Senate Bill 61 addresses are already committed to important programs in school districts that directly impact student learning. Many mill levy overrides were also approved by voters before charters even existed within a district. This is a bad idea for our schools.”
CASE noted that Senate Bill 61 could compromise the positive relationships that already exist between many districts and charter schools. In a number of communities, there are effective fund-sharing arrangements in which a charter might receive more money from the district than what this bill requires. The overly-simplistic approach of Senate Bill 61 stands to harm the relationships carefully built over time between districts and charters, which reflect the individual priorities of the local community they serve.
This bill also ignores the unequal playing field that exists for traditional district schools and charters. For example, school districts serve all students, including high and significant needs students, and the cost to meet the needs of these students is high. Charter schools generally do not serve as many special education and at risk students, so their funding needs for this program area are different.
Additionally, charters have the ability to waive out of many state laws and district policies that district schools are held to. Under law they are allowed to have unlicensed teachers and principals, can accept unlimited outside gifts, grants and donations, and offer no due process for personnel among other waivers.This is a level of flexibility that traditional district schools do not have, and they need every available dollar to successfully implement state and federal requirements that charters are not held to.
The Colorado Association of School Executives (www.co-case.org) is the preeminent professional association for public school administrators in Colorado. The organization’s mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking to deliver on the promise of public education.
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Colorado Association of School Executives
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