Maine Education Committee Stalls Charter School Funding Proposal

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, May 9, 2013

Members of the Education Committee on Tuesday abruptly tabled a proposal to change the way charter schools are funded, even though the proposal was what members of the committee had requested.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presented formal language to the committee that followed up on their request earlier this month to explore a new funding mechanism for charter schools. Bowen’s proposal is to allocate funding to charter schools through the state’s essential programs and services formula, which determines how much subsidy each school district receives. That would be a departure from the current system, in which school districts that lose students to charter schools must pay the charter school for the student’s full tuition. Critics have said that unfairly impacts school districts who have charter schools nearby, though even under Bowen’s new proposal, traditional school districts would eventually lose the funding anyway because of declining enrollments.

The discussion came during consideration of LD 1057, An Act Related to Public Funding of Charter Schools, which is a concept draft filed by Rep. Karen Kusiak, D-Fairfield. Concept drafts are usually meant for committees to fill in details during the work session process.

Some members of the Education Committee said they prefer a separate line item in the state budget specifically for charter schools — not to have them lumped in with traditional schools.

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