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Baltimore charters voice policy progress, funding concerns

Representatives of the city's Coalition of Baltimore's Charter Schools presented to city school board members Tuesday, a range of issues they have raised in recent months about district policies and funding challenges that impact their ability to educate the districts 11,000 students--or 13 percent of the student population--they serve.

In a letter, charter leaders said that in recent weeks, they received answers and assurances regarding federal funding for professional development, the charter renewal process, and a lack of communication from district officials about the future of charter budgets--concerns raised since May.

The Coalition also said it had made progress on obtaining Title II funding for professional development from the district, and charters would receive flexibility to amend their applications after the district implements a new rubric and assessment tool. They said the rubric, called the Chicago 5 survey, concerned them because the district would be using the tool well after the charter renewal application deadline.

However, when it came to funding, charter leaders said questions still lingered, and comes after a particularly long stretch of evasiveness on the matter.

"We felt that responses to questions we asked, particularly those related to funding, went unanswered far too long or were at times incomplete," the letter read. "We met with Dr. Alonso last week and he assured us that would change." 

Charter leaders said they also were in the process of scheduling monthly meetings to address issues such as transportation, funding, and a new structure under which charters would be paying the district for services it provides to them. And they outlined a slew of other issues that still remain.

"These are all encouraging improvements," the letter said. "At the same time, we think it is important for the board to know that we still have questions and concerns about several funding issues, specifically the impact of the teacher buy-out program, how surplus dollars are allocated, and the implementation of transportation for students with disabilities.

"All of these issues directly impact the per-pupil funding for students in charter schools. They also speak to efficiencies and budgeting practices within the school system that certainly impact all students in Baltimore City Schools."

The Coalition also asked for a regularly schedule time slot to continue to update board members on the progress made on such matters.

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

 

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