Public or Private: Are RI Charter Schools Trying to Have it Both Ways?

Source: Stephen Beale, GoLocalProv, Thursday, August 06, 2015

Their teachers are not unionized. They don’t pay into public pensions. And they are exempted from some of the rules that apply to traditional public schools. But they are funded by taxpayer dollars, are free of charge to students attending, and cannot expel students. Are charter schools public schools or publicly funded private schools?… He offers the example of classroom that ‘loses’ a few students to a charter. The ‘money follows the child’ but not all the costs do: the district still has to pay the teacher and has other fixed costs, such as pay the utility bills to keep the lights on in that classroom. … That logic explains why 17 school districts are claiming they lost $5.4 million in tuition payments to as many as two dozen charter schools then in Rhode Island in 2014. … Sheehan said districts are being forced to cut extracurricular programs, sports, school supplies and the like to make up for the losses. In a previous interview, Frank Flynn, the president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, noted that even as such programs are cut in the district, they are being added by charters.