Utah’s Charter Law Drops in Ranking Due to Other States’ Improvement
According to KSL, Utah’s ranking in the annual National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ratings of state charter school laws fell from 12th to 20th place this year, despite a rise in its overall score, due to dramatic improvement by other states. Utah State Charter School Board Chair Tim Beagley said the drop is "an indication that charter schools are very popular in the country right now, and other states are being even more aggressive than Utah is with implementing them.” The study shows two areas where Utah can improve: how the state monitors charter school performance and how charters are funded. Beagley said the board is moving forward with plans for better accountability. The number of Utah charters is currently limited by how many students the legislature decides to fund, which Beagley said could be solved by "a better funding mechanism where we don't really have a limit on the funding and the funding…simply goes wherever the student goes."
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Report: Cities Have Hundreds of Empty Schools for Sale
According to the Washington Post and other sources, a Pew Charitable Trusts study revealed that some 327 schools sat vacant and for sale last year in twelve of the nation’s largest cities. Forty-two percent of the schools Pew reviewed were sold or leased to public charter schools. Ohio, Georgia and Washington, D.C. have laws that require districts to let charter operators bid first on closed school buildings. Of the 12 cities Pew examined, Philadelphia is the only one to have a formal reuse policy, which gives preference, and a discount, to educational or nonprofit buyers. In nearly every district, some vacant schools have become targets for drug users and thieves, who strip the building of plumbing and wiring. Detroit led the list with 124 empty buildings; St. Louis was second with 39. Researchers anticipate the number of for-sale buildings will grow in coming years as school districts consolidate their facilities.
Sources: Washington Post here and here, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Public School Notebook
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Milwaukee Offering More Empty Buildings to Charters
According to the Wisconsin Reporter, the Milwaukee school district is becoming more welcoming to leasing or selling its vacant school buildings to public charter school operators. “Economic pressures felt by various districts have made the transfer of properties to charters increasingly appealing,” Emily Dowdall wrote in a new Pew Charitable Trusts study. In addition, a July 2011 law gave Milwaukee unilateral authority to sell school buildings that are empty longer than one year. Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) spokesman Tony Tagliavia said the district is in the process of leasing or selling at least six school buildings to charters. “We have seen increased interest in our buildings from charter school operators as they understand that we have an interest in utilizing our facilities for providers that want to charter with MPS and duplicate their highly successful programs in Milwaukee or develop a new program based on a highly successful model,” he said.
Source: Wisconsin Reporter
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Study on D.C. Student Turnover Bursts Myths about Charters
According to the Washington Post, a study by the Office of State Superintendent of Education shows that more than 6,200 students left public schools in D.C. between October 2011 and June 2012, while another 4,600 students entered. Traditional public schools posted a net gain of 388 students; public charter schools showed a net loss of 2,000 students. “The level of mobility in this city is far higher than I think any of us imagined,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board. “We need to understand better who those students are and why they’re moving.” Pearson said the report “bursts a number of myths about charters,” including the perception that charters push large numbers of difficult students into traditional public schools midyear. In 2011-12, 561 students — less than 2 percent of total charter enrollment — moved to traditional schools between October and June. Forty-four students moved from the traditional school system into charter schools midyear.
Source: Washington Post
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Montana Charter School Bill Advances in House
According to the Montana Standard , Montana House lawmakers endorsed three “school choice” bills on Monday, including a bill which would authorize public charter schools in the state for the first time. The three bills gained debate-stage approval and face a final vote in the House Tuesday, after which they will advance to the state Senate. Rep. Austin Knudsen, the charter school bill’s sponsor, said the bill was based on model legislation from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “It’s meant to help our Montana students,” he said. “It’s meant to give our parents choice. It’s the right thing to do.”
Source: Montana Standard
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Idaho Education Committees Consider Equitable Funding for Charters
According to the Idaho Reporter, the education committees of the Idaho House and Senate held a joint hearing on a proposal to allow equitable funding for public charter schools. “We need to level the playing field for charter schools,” Kelly Trudeau, of the Compass Charter School Network in Meridian, told the committee. Also at issue were seven bills which would given school districts more flexibility on budgeting, union contract negotiations and staffing. “We need increased flexibility with how we manage funds, and how we handle union contracts,” said Karen Pyron, superintendent of the Mackay School District.
Source: Idaho Reporter