Support Needed to Fix Charter School Funding Loophole

 

Bob Jones, a member of the North Kingstown School Committee, has asked our PTO to reach out to you to ask for support in amending legislation regarding charter school funding. Current legislation allows for charter schools to bill the district for students who have been offered enrollment, but have not yet declined or informed the school of a change.

Just this year, North Kingstown was sent almost $6000 in bills for students who enrolled in charter schools but left before the first day of school. Kingston Hill took advantage of this loophole in legislation and ended up suing North Kingstown. North Kingstown did fight this but then they still had to cover their legal fees.

Please write to Representative Robert Craven (rep-craven@rilegislature.gov) and Commissioner Ken Wagner (Ken.Wagner@ride.ri.gov) asking them to fix the funding rules to ensure no sending district pays for students that never get educated by a charter or state school.

Below is the email Bob Jones sent to Representative Craven. Please consider adding your voices to this very important cause. Thank you!

Representative Craven,

It was nice to see you Saturday at the Lischio Field (re) dedication. I wanted to follow up on our discussion and from a point made in detail in a previous note from Jan (see below).

There is a loophole in the current charter school funding / enrollment process. RIDE interprets the following to allow charter schools to charge for any student who has been offered enrollment, but not yet declined or informed the school of a change:

§ 16-77.1-2(e) Local district payments to charter public schools for each district’s students enrolled in the charter public school shall also be made quarterly as designated in subsection (d); the first local district payment shall be made by August 15 instead of July.

(note – § 16-7.2-5 (b) essentially states the same language as the above law as well).

However, RIDE’s census enrollment system does not allow any school to note enrollment prior to the first day of school; hence, it is possible for charter schools to churn (accidentally or intentionally) students and bill sending LEA’s for students who may end up never receiving an actual day of education from the school.

As noted below, RIDE does not have a procedure to correct this nor seems to care (I’m not sure they have any proof it “balances out” and when you are cutting student programs, a few thousand makes a difference locally!).

I urge you to amend 16-7.2-5(b) and 16-77.1-2(e) to allow for mid-quarter reconciliations retroactive to the current FY (16) and going forward and urge the Commissioner in the interim to amend RIDE guidance to do the same. I understand the reason for the Aug 15th deadline was a concern about charter schools having funds to operate (despite RIDE regulations requiring them to have 3 months cash at a minimum and initial state aid being paid in July).

Hence, instead of fighting over moving the date, simply allow for what should be a non-controversial issue – who on either side of this issue would not agree a district should NOT pay for services if they were NEVER provided?

Amend 16-7.2-5 and 16-77.1-2 to include the following: (or language that enables schools to recoup payment for students who are not officially enrolled as of opening day).

” Local districts may seek reimbursement for their first quarterly payment or adjust their second quarterly payment accordingly to charter public schools, Davies, and the Met Center for any student enrolled on August 15 at those schools and included in the district’s first quarter payment, but who subsequently never received a single day of educational instruction at the school due to enrollment at another school.”

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Regards,
Bob

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