Maine Approves Two More Public Charter Schools
According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Charter School Commission approved two new public charter school applications Tuesday, the fourth and fifth charter schools to be approved in Maine since charter school legislation was passed in 2011. The only vote against either of the schools came from a commissioner who said there was already a well-regarded traditional public school nearby the proposed charter. Commissioner Heidi Sampson, who voted yes, said of the existing school, “let it stand on its own…For the parent who is engaged in their child’s education, choice is necessary.” Last month, after the commission rejected four out of five applications, including two for virtual charter schools, Governor Paul LePage called for commission members to resign. Maine’s charter school law allows up to 10 charter schools to be established in the first decade, though Gov. Paul LePage is preparing legislation to lift that cap.
Source: Bangor Daily News
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Florida Bill Would Co-Locate Charters in District School Buildings
According to the Sun-Sentinel, a bill proposed by a Florida House education subcommittee, would require districts to make space available to public charter schools for free if a traditional school's enrollment falls below 50 percent. Florida charter schools could also have free access to vacant school district buildings. "If there is a demand, and we have an asset that's not already being used, this is something that should be considered. The buildings have been paid for by the public," said George Moraitis, vice chairman for the Choice and Innovation subcommittee, which will discuss the proposal Wednesday. Chuck Shaw, the former charter school principal and current School Board chairman in Palm Beach County, said while the co-location of charters and traditional public schools could present some logistical challenges, he's open to the idea. "I know charter schools have a desperate need for facilities, and it's important that we find safe, quality facilities to house children," he said.
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New Hampshire House Panel Considers Increasing Charter Schools Funding
According to the Concord Monitor, the New Hampshire House Education Committee yesterday discussed a bill sponsored that would fund public charter schools at half the statewide average cost per pupil, an increase of about $1,100 more per pupil. “Charter schools have been laboratories of innovation in our state,” Weyler told the committee. Eileen Liponis, executive director of the New Hampshire Public Charter School Association, said New Hampshire’s charters receive 41 percent of the state average of $13,159 spent on public school students. Nationally, 80 percent of the funds follow the child to a charter school, she said. Weyler told the committee that the current state funding for charters isn’t fair when the amount taxpayers spend on public schools is taken into account. New Hampshire currently has 17 charter schools. The state board of education imposed a moratorium on any new charters until lawmakers show demonstrate sufficient funding is available.
Source: Concord Monitor
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Op-ed: Include Charters in New York Pre-K Proposal
A New York Post op-ed by Bill Phillips, president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, writes that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is “hobbling one of his signature initiatives” by leaving public charter schools out of his proposal to set up strong pre-Kindergarten programs for students in New York’s most troubled areas. “His proposal prohibits the state’s most innovative public schools, charter schools — which eagerly and successfully serve these very same students in these very same tough communities — from even participating” in a competitive grant process. “Charters," Phillips writes “are built for innovation, creativity and flexibility — with a record of success — that make them prime candidates for a competitive process that rewards the most effective methods… The charter community is on board with the governor’s push for more pre-K and extended learning time, particularly with his focus on high-needs districts. His competitive-grant approach is the right one for fiscally challenged times…We hope he changes his mind or that the Legislature intervenes.”
Source: New York Post
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Oklahoma House Panel Rejects Bill to Ban Foreign Administrators
According to the Oklahoman, a bill which would have required the five highest paid administrators and school board members at Oklahoma’s public charter schools to be American citizens failed in the state House Education Committee. “This bill sends a negative message that we are against cultural diversity, that perhaps we are a little paranoid about people of a different color and people of a different religion,” said Rep. Doug Cox. Rep. Sally Kern, the bill's author, had expressed concern about two public charter schools she said were linked with a Turkish thinker Fethullah Gulen. Marc Julian, director of development for the Dove and Discovery charter schools, denied affiliation with Gulen. “I know who he is because he's a Turkish scholar, but only because these accusations have come up before in the past,” he said. “As far as I've ever understood that, no, we are not directly affiliated or affiliated in any way with anyone other than Oklahoma City Public Schools.”