Utah Legislature: Charter schools get boost in funding, seat on board

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  • ASD Parent
    March 13, 2010 3:15 p.m.

    I don't know about other districts, but Alpine School District spent $195 per student for transportation in 2008-09, according to the "Stakeholders' Report 2009". The report is mailed to every residence in the district yearly and can be found online at the district website.

    We also had a limit of one field trip per class imposed because of budget cuts, we continue to have that limit. So, our transportation costs have gone down significantly from 2007-08.

  • Confused
    March 13, 2010 10:22 a.m.

    Charter schools don't have transportation costs. How much do regular Public schools pay for transportation? Also, the $500 bandied about isn't true of all schools. Traditional public schools have different funding bases so look at the district comparisons. The lower funding per students are at the charter rate without transportation costs. We should compare district costs with the charter schools within the districts-that would be interesting!

  • To: For those who actually need
    March 13, 2010 8:41 a.m.

    Apparently you have believed everything Sen. Stephenson and others have told you. Here is a reality course for you:

    1. Charters have the same educational requirements with some exceptions. The largest being an enrollment and class size cap. Districts do not have this luxury.

    2. There is no tuition charged, but the school receives State funding through the WPU for every student. And now they will receive an additional $200 per student that the Districts will not receive!

    3. I have done the research and the 3 Charter Schools in my area are doing 5-30 percentage points below my District School. Some Charters are doing great, most are doing average, and some are doing sub-average work.

    4. The "overall record" is what the Feds look at when determining if the school is passing or failing AYP. This one fact makes it highly important, at least until NCLB is revoked or replaced.

    5. Charter Schools currently cost less, but Charters are wanting equal funding. Charters promised they would do better with less money. You don't have to report to every resident how you use that money, there is no truth in taxation when it comes to Charters.

  • Fred
    March 13, 2010 7:14 a.m.

    Carolyn, congratulations on your high test scores that is great. The problem with the charter school debate is those on the charter school side want to cherry pick which schools we talk about, as you just did. No doubt there are some outstanding charter schools. But you folks never seem to want to talk about the not so great charter schools. If we are going to compare apples to oranges, lets compare all the apples to all the oranges. Another thing charter advocates don't like to talk about is that research shows that students whose parents are involved in their education perform at a higher level. I would think that reasonable people could agree that a much higher percentage of charter school parents are involved in the students education than the parents at public schools. That means EVERY charter school should have a higher percentage of students passing standardized tests than traditional schools, which of course is not happening. Final statement to answer your question why should you do it for less? Because you said you could and would, remember that was the advantage of charter schools.

  • Old timer
    March 13, 2010 6:21 a.m.

    The charters by me score 10 - 15% LOWER on the state CRT tests than the real school the local kids go to.

    Also who is this Sharette lady that is always on here? Does she run a charter school? If so shouldn't she be running in instead of constantly telling us how great her school is?

    Just a thought from an old timer...

  • Carolyn Sharette
    March 12, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    We have already had some students attend prestigious universities - but I am not sure why going to a Utah university would be considered subpar. Some of the engineering and technology programs in Utah are excellent (among other programs) - students come from all over the world to attend them.

    And by the way, there is no such thing as "teaching to the test". I would like you to come and try to do it if you believe there is. The skills learned to be able to succeed on language arts tests are:

    - reading carefully and accurately
    - being adept at picking out main ideas as well as small details that impact meaning
    - making inferences and drawing conclusions
    - understanding questions
    - summarizing information
    - identifying mistakes and errors (discrimination skills)

    When we teach students these skills through studying quality literature and practicing them, we are developing scholars who find state exams quite easy. These skills are necessary for anyone to become a proficient scholar - and cannot be classified simplistically as "teaching to a test".

    With regard to a writing test, I am sure you can imagine it is impossible to "teach to the test". The student can write or can't write. Ours can!

  • RE: Carolyn
    March 12, 2010 10:17 p.m.

    With 100% of your students passing state exams, your school could either be providing the very best education in the state or your teachers teach to the test. If your students are so much better educated, I look forward to seeing how many of them get accepted into top ten universities when they graduate from your school. My hunch is, though, they will go to the same universities everyone else in Utah does. Your test scores reflect teaching to a test, not ivy league education.

  • Re: Carolyn and For Those...
    March 12, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    Stanford's comprehensive study proved that charters nationwide are NOT performing on par with their public school counterparts. 36% of charters perform worse on standardized tests, while only 16% score higher. The rest are within a standard deviation of 5%.
    Charter school movement: the greatest ripoff of the 21st century!

  • Why don't
    March 12, 2010 8:38 p.m.

    all you parents that want to take money from the traditional schools for your charter schools just keep your hands of my tax payer money and pony up the funds to put your kids in private school? And know, some of you with five kids in school don't pay taxes too (you probably get money back from earned income credit)

  • Carolyn Sharette-American Prep
    March 12, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    Fred- we receive about $500 less per student than the local public schools.

    Our students score well above the district schools.

    Isn't that "doing it better for less?" So I guess it really isn't a lie.

    100% of our 5th graders passed the state language arts exam last year. 100% of our 9th graders passed the state writing exam last year.

    Yes, we do it better for less, but we shouldn't have to accept lower funding just to make some people feel good about giving citizens the choice to send their kids to a charter school. As if because it is cheaper, it is somehow okay but if it costs the same it isn't okay to give parents the choice? That doesn't sound like America to me.

  • Sorry Fred
    March 12, 2010 3:48 p.m.

    you don't understand it. Charter schools get the WPU. The WPU will go down because growth was not funded in public schools across the board. So charter schools WILL take a cut because they will receive a lower WPU amount for each student, just like all the other public schools.

    Charter "growth" being funded just means that some of the new kids coming into the system will be allowed to enroll at charter schools.

    The amount charters receive for them will be less, just as it is in the other public schools.

    Fred - you got it wrong but it's okay to make mistakes! This is a pretty complicated issue and it is hard to stay on top of it.

  • Fred
    March 12, 2010 2:11 p.m.

    "WE CAN DO IT BETTER FOR LESS" the battle lie of charter schools. Public ed gets no money for growth, so in essence they are getting a 5% cut, and charter schools are getting money for growth, so they are getting 0% cut. If public ed was getting no cut and charter schools where getting a 5% cut Mr. Stephenson would be going ballistic. If you can't get vouchers in the front door, then get them in the back door I always say.

  • Thank you Senator Stephenson!
    March 12, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    You are the best. You always do what needs to be done, even when most people don't understand it.

    You are a true hero. Thanks for giving your time and energy as a legislator. You keep moving forward and are willing to lead, which is rare these days.

    You take harsh criticism from ignorant people - and still are willing to lead - to try to do the right thing, especially for Utah's school children.

    THANK YOU from a grateful constituent!!

  • Do more with less?
    March 12, 2010 2:06 p.m.

    Yes we do! We currently receive about $500 less per student than traditional public school students.

    Scores at our school are 20 percentage points above the state average in some cases and double digits above our local district scores.

    So I guess it is unequivocal, WE DO MORE WITH LESS. (But we shouldn't have to and we deserve equal funding).

  • For those who need it
    March 12, 2010 2:02 p.m.

    There are some "high - rep" learners on these boards! So just for you:

    1. Charter teachers have the same requirements as all public school teachers.

    2. No one "pays" for a charter school education.

    3. The research (do your homework - it isn't hard to find!) shows that on a student by student comparison basis, charters do better. If you can't understand the distinction I am making between school comparisons and similar student comparisons, again - do your homework!

    4. If you want to keep looking at the "overall record" which doesn't tell you anything about how charters are actually doing to serve particular students, go ahead but that is useless to this discussion.

    5. Charter schools cost the taxpayers LESS. Again, do your homework.

  • Lillian
    March 12, 2010 1:40 p.m.

    My son has a severe learning disability that prohibits him from participating in a standard classroom without extensive support. However, he is thriving as a 9th-grade student at the Open High School of Utah. We see the difference every day between his OHSU classes and teachers - all of them not only certified but BRILLIANT at what they do - and the teachers and administrators at our local school.

    Charter schools are innovating the future of education. They ARE doing more with less - proving that they deserve even more. The rest of the public school system needs to either stop crying when the money they are receiving for students they are NO LONGER TEACHING gets moved to the schools that are actually doing the teaching, or CHANGE their own failing system.

  • Until Charters
    March 12, 2010 11:39 a.m.

    can even match regular public schools in terms of academic performance I say only give them funding for a probationary period; if they can match performance I say cut the funding. I don't want my tax money going to some parents pet project charter school that can't even cut it academically (and the overall record isn't looking very good in that area folks).

  • Kearns Parent
    March 12, 2010 11:06 a.m.

    My kid has done great at a Charter School in Salt Lake City. I have had to figure out how to get him to school (no bussing for charter schools) and get him fed (no cafeteria or food services for charter schools).
    But all they do is focus on Education at the charter school. They don't get caught up in the district politics and they don't worry about serving food or bussing. They just focus on great education.
    My son as FAILING in the regular public education situation with it's huge class sizes and cookied cutter approach to education. Sorry ... but teaching a kid is NOT a mass production.
    The smaller class sizes at the charter school are what my kid needed to thrive ... finally ... after 5 years of regular public Education.

  • Orem Parent
    March 12, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    Once again Stephenson tries to sneak in legislation at the last second that will benefit him financially.

    Anonymous at 9:38 was right on. If the charters can't do what they said they could, they are a failure. We should put an end to the double cost of charter schools.


  • Harv12
    March 12, 2010 9:44 a.m.

    There remains no conclusive argument of evidence that Charter Schools are one whit better or more successful than regular public schools. Dividing the funds even further to allow for Charter Schools isn't responsible in view of the pitiful amount we spend per pupil in Utah. Accountability in Charter Schools is minimal at best and until we can afford to spend a comparable amount on our children in public schools, maybe Charter Schools should go by the way. The big down side for legislators who are involved in building and construction is that without Charter Schools they won’t be able to continue to benefit from their Charter School legislation by feathering their own private business coffers.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2010 9:38 a.m.


    They claimed they could do more with less.

    By asking for more, they are a failure.

    I proclaim the Charter experiment a complete failure and call for its end.

  • My problem with charter schools
    March 12, 2010 9:34 a.m.

    IS that they don't have the same requirements for their teachers that the public schools do. So in a sense the school is a venture to capitalize of public schools, rather than a venture to better educate! This is evident by the demographics that are accepted to these schools and the limited number of students per teacher.

    If public school teacher has the same form of class I would be willing to venture that those students would far exceed those being taught in charter schools. If you want to succeed the answer isn't to isolate the smart kids and only accept those that are willing to pay for a smaller class size, it's to decrease the student to teacher ratio within public schools and provide teachers with the necessary tools to increase their students success! Then by evaluating teachers from the level of success you will be able to sustain a higher level of education which is always talked about but never funded properly!!!!

  • Excellent!
    March 12, 2010 8:49 a.m.

    These changes are needed, and even required.

    The thousands of students attending public charter schools are currently being funded at about $500 less per student that students attending traditional public schools. Other states have faced the same issue and changed the funding formulas to ensure all public students receive equitable funding.

    To not do so would likely create a legal problem for Utah so this was a smart move - not to mention a fair one.

    Charter schools have no relation to vouchers by the way. No connection. Meaning: not the same thing. Not comparable. Different discussion. Not sure how else to say it so the anti-voucher folks can understand (maybe they need to focus a little on their own education - it is embarrassing that they cannot distinguish the difference).

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    If 42,000 students have chosen to transfer to a public charter school, why does the district they left get to keep the tax dollars paid to the district?
    Shouldn't the money follow the student to the public charter school?

  • boris
    March 12, 2010 8:32 a.m.

    I think that the spending on charters is not the most responsible thing to do right now and is a step away from promises they have made to not impact funding of standard public schools, but the voucher issue is not related. Vouchers are for private schools not charters.

    Parents with students in private schools are still paying taxes that go to public schools and easing the burden on the system by taking students out of it. I still believe that middle to lower income families that are willing to make this sacrifice (paying tuition) should recieve a voucher that represents some portion of what they are putting into the system. But again, vouchers are another story and not really on the table right now.

    My real problem with charters in Utah is that they mostly benefit the wealtier demographics based on their locations, ease of access, and other practices. The door is technically open for all students but the ease of access isn't equal. In addition, charters in Utah are given very little freedom to innovate and actually expirement with alternative structures and practices that could benefit the public system.

  • Randy
    March 12, 2010 8:07 a.m.

    Even with this increase in funding, Charter Schools remain the cheapest education choice for Utah taxpayers.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2010 7:46 a.m.

    Charter schools are public schools, therefore they should have equal funding. Vouchers have nothing to do with charter schools.

  • Abhorrent
    March 11, 2010 11:53 p.m.

    When they are making massive cuts across the board, the last place they should be boosting funding is for charter schools. Vouchers were voted on and struck down. Get over it already and quit trying to take back door revenge with last minute legislation like this.