We face a big challenge here in Baltimore. The District has abandoned the Statewide Funding Formula and, this year, simply gave us a per-pupil amount. In addition, in early September they proposed a funding formula for next year that would have devastated our schools, as well as many other charter schools.
To correct this injustice, on September 10, 2015, we filed a lawsuit in Baltimore City Circuit Court asking the court system to, once again, require the Baltimore City School System to follow the law. Given the repeated accounting errors and accountability issues at its North Avenue headquarters, families of public school children deserve transparency.
The district has, for now, pulled their proposed funding formula that would have devastated our schools. The City Council has unanimously denounced the city’s proposed funding formula. 1,500 people showed up at a rally at Lake Montebello. We turned out 250 people at a recent City Council Hearing – a hearing that resulted in strong support for charter schools, transparency, and public education. And both litigation and exploratory conversations with Kurt Schmoke have proceeded, as we seek a mediated resolution.
However, our work is not done. There is no agreed-upon formula for next year. The district has continued to refuse to open its books and continues to operate outside of the law. Therefore, we have not dropped the lawsuit and we will continue to organize and turn out neighbors to have our voices heard.
Public charter schools are effective for our families–with increased accountability and better outcomes, on average, for our students. The fact that more than 5,500 students are on charter school waiting lists in Baltimore City alone is a clear indication that parents see the value of schools like ours.
Here are some important facts that led to our decision:
- In 2007, Maryland’s highest court made clear that public charter school students deserve equal funding that follows them to the classroom–regardless of which public school they attend.
- Yet, since 2011, general fund revenues for Baltimore City Public Schools have increased by 11.6%–from $1.075 billion to $1.2 billion–while per-pupil funding for charter schools has declined from $9,412 to $9,387.
- Public charter schools represent more than 15% of total enrollment, but receive only about 10% of the school system’s general fund.
- The school system recently made its proposal for the next school year, and it shifts even more funding from classrooms to central administration.
- In other words, less money is getting to our classrooms, and more money is getting stuck at North Avenue–justified through vaguely described “services” that charter schools neither need nor want. This is not happening to students in other counties, and it is against the law.
Maryland’s public charter school law is clear. And, in 2007, the Maryland Court of Appeals reaffirmed that the State Board of Education–not Baltimore City central school staff–should determine how funding follows students to their classrooms.
Additionally, it is important to note that this litigation is solely about ensuring that the funding our students are due follows them to their classrooms–in a clear and transparent manner–to pay teachers and fund other education priorities. It does not involve any other issues about which you may have heard.
We were hoping it would not come to this. Our alliance of public charter school leaders proposed a collaborative workgroup to reach a compromise. We offered to engage in mediation to find a solution. But the school system would not agree to mediation, and insists that it can essentially create a per-pupil funding number–without the transparency required by law.
We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our students continue to receive an excellent education. The lawsuit filed is necessary for us to keep that promise.
On this page, we will continue to share updates on this effort, as we push to make Baltimore public schools better for all students. If you would like to sign up for alerts, please visit savethechartersbmore.com
October 21, The Baltimore Sun: City Schools need to get back to the bargaining table
October 20, The Baltimore Sun: Schmoke exits talks with Baltimore charters, district
October 17, The Baltimore Sun: Charters, city school officials spar over terms to begin negotiations
October 7, The Baltimore Sun: City Council probes school officials on charter impasse
October 6, The Baltimore Sun: More charter schools join funding lawsuit, as city council plans to probe issue
October 2, The Daily Record: More charter schools allege Baltimore underfunding students
October 2, City Paper: A primer on the fight for charter-school funding
September 29, The Daily Record: Charter schools join lawsuit
September 26, The Baltimore Sun: Charter school supporters rally for funding
September 24, The Seventy Four: Baltimore Schools Withdraw Charter Cuts After Backlash: ‘Our Voices Have Been Heard!’
September 22, The Baltimore Sun: City school system scraps charter funding change as Schmoke enters talks
September 21, The Baltimore Sun: Councilman to introduce charter school funding resolution as debate intensifies
September 21, The Baltimore Sun: City Council calls on school system to change charter school funding formula
September 16, The Baltimore Sun: For city schools, a dangerous lawsuit
September 10, The Baltimore Sun: City charter schools file lawsuit against school system over funding
September 8, The Baltimore Sun: City schools proposes new charter funding, meets same resistance