Questions for Charter Operators Involved in the Lawsuit:
1. Part of your lawsuit is a demand for 98 percent of per-pupil spending with 2 percent taken off the top for the district. You also supported Gov. Hogan's legislation this past spring that would have explicitly carved this formula into state law.
Many in the community have spoken out that such a formula would bankrupt the district and harm other students, because the real cost for administrative services is greater than 2 percent per charter student. Currently, the state is commissioning a study to determine what an appropriate figure would be, which will be due by the end of October 2016. Given the ongoing study, what motivates you to pursue litigation before it's finished?
2. Do you believe that charters should bear proportional costs for special-education students who are more expensive to educate, or should those costs be borne primarily by traditional schools?
3. On the Marc Steiner show, Bobbi MacDonald, the executive director of The City Neighbors Foundation, noted that the majority of Baltimore charter schools are grassroots, mom-and-pop, integrated schools. She said, "That's a vision for what the public school system could go towards."
Unlike in other cities, Baltimore charters work closely with the district, have unionized schoolteachers, and are mostly run by former local educators or parents. Yet the charter operators involved in the lawsuit also backed Hogan's bill, which carried the potential to greatly alter those dynamics.
What is the charter operators' ideal vision for the future? Are you looking for a way to improve and sustain the existing system, or would you like to see Baltimore's charter sector more closely resemble other urban districts? Are the operators planning to push for another bill that resembles the one introduced last spring?
4. You've alleged that not enough money goes to the classrooms because it's getting sucked up in bureaucracy at North Avenue. You've also said that the district has failed to be sufficiently transparent about where its money goes. You seem to be saying both that the district is wasting money, and that you're not sure where the money is going. Are there specific areas you believe the district is allocating too much money to, and if so, what are they?
5. There's been a lot of rhetoric around about increased autonomy. What specific freedoms would you like from the district that you don't currently have? Laying out those demands more concretely would help to advance a more productive public conversation, especially since some may be more controversial than others.