Top charter schools deserve extra help

In a recent editorial, the Editorial Board of The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle makes the case for high performing charter schools to get more state aid.

“It’s grossly unfair that one of New York’s best performing schools has to raise $6 million on its own to grow. Yet that’s what Rochester Prep must do because it is a charter school and ineligible for additional public funds.

“No wonder a lawsuit has been filed against the New York state Education Department. It reasonably challenges the current funding formula, which does not provide money for charters to buy, lease or renovate their buildings. A family at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School on Clifford Avenue is one of a handful of families around the state arguing that taxpayer funding allocations of only about 75 percent as much as peers in publicly run schools is inequitable.

“The courts should seek to resolve this long-simmering dispute expeditiously. Thousands of New York children now in failing schools could benefit from a more equitable funding formula.
“Charter schools such as Rochester Prep, which saw more than half of its eighth-graders rated proficient or advanced in math this year, would surely benefit. Now compare Rochester Prep’s performance to that of eighth-graders in the Rochester City School District. Sadly, just 1 percent of city eight-graders were proficient. And even worse, eight city schools scored zero on the 2014 standardized math tests.

“School leaders and parents at Rochester Prep are busy this fall trying to figure out how they can raise $6 million to pay for start-up costs for a new high school and buy new buildings for elementary and middle schools. While there is a growing number of foundations and wealthy individuals who have recognized the merit of some charter schools, still, the pool is only so big.

“Charter schools that are doing well deserve more public support, especially when city schools are receiving about $20,000 per pupil, compared to about $13,000 annually for local charters.  The courts must correct this imbalance and injustice. Until that happens, Cuomo and state lawmakers should at least reward charters that are doing better than most other schools in meeting student needs.”

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