Charter School Expansion Bills Debated

A March 16 Gazette.net article discusses two bills (HB 1217 and HB 1218) designed to expand Maryland’s charter school program.  The bills were sponsored by Delegate Jolene Ivey and heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on March 15.  Maryland currently has 46 charter schools, with 30 being located in Baltimore City.

H.B. 1217, which Ivey said has a greater chance of passing both the House and Senate this spring, would align Maryland with federal requirements for charter school laws, making the state eligible to apply for federal grants, she said.  …

H.B. 1218 is a more sweeping measure that calls for more change, Ivey said, including a per-pupil facilities allotment equivalent to what is offered to traditional public schools in a jurisdiction. Charter schools now do not receive facilities funding and often must raise money from donors to pay to lease and maintain buildings.

“It’s not something that’s going to be easy to pass,” Ivey said. “It gives a map of what needs to be done. This bill gets the conversation going.”

The article also examines the mixed reception charter schools have received from local boards of education. 

“Different jurisdictions are very uneven at how they’re handling charter schools,” Ivey said. “Some have embraced them; some have made them as difficult as possible.”

Montgomery County, which will open its first charter school in Kensington this fall, hadn’t been accepting of charter schools, and the county board of education recently voted to oppose both House bills, according to the system’s website.  …

The Prince George’s County school board has not taken a position on the bills, but Len Lucchi, who lobbies state legislators on behalf of the board, said neither sounded like a good idea.

MACo did not take a position on either bill and typically only takes positions on charter school bills that would impose new costs or liabilities on county governments.

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