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Needed: An equitable formula for funding charter schools

As a principal in the Baltimore City public schools, I was pleased to see the issue of charter school funding discussed both within the broader context of state law and the reality of the school district's budget ("For city schools, a dangerous lawsuit," Sept. 16).

If anything, however, the situation is even more complex than the one you described.

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My school, Claremont High School, serves adolescents and young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. With a combination of academic programming, special supports and an exceptional staff, our school helps students meet the challenges they face in and out of school and prepares them for a successful future.

We are a public school, one of six in the district that exclusively serves students with disabilities. Of course, students with special needs are also served in schools across the district, whether in dedicated programs housed within a traditional school or with special supports and accommodations in general education classrooms in both traditional and charter schools.

For a large portion of Baltimore's special education students, the cost of those services far exceeds the $13,000 a year per-pupil figure that The Sun's editorial interprets the charter law as "requiring" for charter school students, regardless of their level of need. For the sake of Baltimore's students, I hope The Sun's interpretation is wrong. While federal law ensures students at my school would continue to receive the resources they need, students who attend traditional schools would by necessity receive diminished resources. There simply wouldn't be enough left to go around.

If we could add up the actual cost of providing a high-quality education for every one of Baltimore's unique children and present the city, state, and federal governments with a bill, this discussion would be a lot more straightforward. But that's not how it works. What needs to happen now is for all school communities to work together to ensure that the district as a whole meets its obligations not only to the charter law but also to other laws and requirements and, most importantly, to the whole range of students it serves.

Kamala Carnes, Baltimore

The writer is principal of Claremont High School.

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