Moratorium on charter schools heads to full House

Source: Andrew Oxford, The New Mexican, February 25, 2017

A committee voted along party lines Saturday to temporarily halt the creation of any new charter schools, sending the moratorium to a vote in the full House of Representatives. Backers, including teachers unions, argue House Bill 46 would allow time to develop better oversight of charter schools and prevent new schools from drawing funding at a time when the budget for public education is already tight. But opponents, including the Public Education Department, business groups and parents with children on waiting lists for existing charter schools, argue the measure would limit options for students. … Sponsored by Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, the bill is only one sentence long, stating simply that no new applications for charter schools would be accepted or approved between June 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2020. The bill follows a report last year by the Legislative Finance Committee that recommended additional guidelines for authorizing charter schools and a new system for funding those schools. The report found inconsistent oversight of charter schools, with charters rarely revoked, despite poor performance. … The number of charter schools around New Mexico has grown from 63 in fiscal year 2008 to 99 in fiscal year 2016, though about five are expected to soon close, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. The committee found charter schools, when compared to traditional public schools, serve a lower percentage of students who are Hispanic or economically disadvantaged. … Even if the full House of Representatives and the Senate pass Trujillo’s moratorium, it would still require the approval of Gov. Susana Martinez, whose own Public Education Department has opposed the measure.

Related:

Study: Unclear laws give New Mexico charter schools funding edge over public schools
Source: Robert Nott, Santa Fe New Mexican, July 15, 2016

Charter schools in New Mexico receive more funding per student than traditional public schools, in part because of unclear laws that give them an edge in squeezing out dollars from the state, a new study says. The report by the Legislative Education Study Committee and Legislative Finance Committee says charter schools on average receive about 15 percent more funding per student than regular public schools. In Albuquerque, for example, traditional public schools receive about $7,400 for each student while that city’s charter schools get about $8,700 per student. The reasons include statutory language that allows charter schools to take advantage of the state’s small-school funding formula — designed to give rural school districts adequate money to operate — and a law that lets charter schools begin new programs with funding that doesn’t require legislative approval. … Earlier this year, for example, a state audit of 55 state-chartered schools in New Mexico found many of them deficient in internal financial controls and out of compliance with some provisions of state law. Some of those problems were minor and others have already been corrected. In addition, a Legislative Finance Report earlier this year stated that while New Mexico’s charter schools only serve 7 percent of the student population, they have received 46 percent of public-school funding increases in the past seven years. National studies on charter schools say that for the most part they do not out-perform more traditional public schools in academics. Sallee told the committee that the Legislature has yet to authorize an in-depth study on this issue in New Mexico. …

Report: New Mexico charter schools cost more, perform same
Source: Morgan Lee, Albuquerque Journal, January 18, 2016

Rapidly expanding charter schools in New Mexico are spending more per student with similar academic results to traditional public schools, state program analysts told lawmakers on Monday. … The study found that charter school students received $8,663 per student, while traditional district schools received $7,597, during the budget year ending June 2015. New Mexico’s charter schools have received nearly half of school funding increases since mid-2007, while serving about 7 percent of all students, the report said. … New Mexico had 97 charter schools serving about 22,000 students last year, up from 59 in 2010 and just two in 2000. That steady growth mimics the growth of nationwide attendance at charter schools, which surpasses 2.5 million students. The state evaluation raised specific concerns about costs and performance at so-called virtual charter schools that provide remote online courses. New Mexico has two virtual schools — New Mexico Connections Academy and New Mexico Virtual Academy — that both have ties to for-profit organizations.


New Mexico legislators look to curb charter school costs
Source: Ben Wieder, Stateline.org, December 12, 2011

…They represent three of New Mexico’s more than 80 charter schools. While some of those schools look and act like private institutions — their leaders have freedom to run them as they see fit as long as students meet state standards — they are part of the public school system, charge no tuition and receive nearly all of their funding from state monies.

But unlike other states, where average per-student funding for charters is typically lower than it is for other public schools, a legislative report released last month found that charters in New Mexico receive an average of 26 percent more funding per student than traditional public schools. The report suggested that lawmakers change how schools are funded to address that….