Colorado Charters Have Chance at Fair Share of Local Construction Funds

Last year it was a big issue to see many Denver area public charter schools get significantly shortchanged in bond election requests for more facilities money. It has come to light that charter schools across Colorado receive less than 2 percent of school construction bond money, even though they educate about 7 percent of the total public school enrollment. Why shouldn’t they be treated more fairly?

Enter state senator Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, a perennial champion for school choice and educational opportunity. She introduced Senate Bill 176 (PDF) in the state legislature to address the inequity. The bill would require school districts to consult with charter schools about their facilities needs before holding a bond election, and would require school districts to include those needs in the election request “unless the district and charter school agree otherwise.”

Seems reasonable enough. Douglas County charter school mom Donnell Rosenberg was one of those who showed up to testify last Thursday in favor of SB 176 at the Senate Education Committee meeting. She reprinted her testimony on a guest post at the Colorado Charters blog. Here’s how Rosenberg summed up her argument:

I believe this bill brings balance to the issue. It makes it easier for districts to say “yes” to the charters, yet leaves control at the local level. I urge you to support Senate Bill 176. In addition to bringing equitable funding to charters, it will allow our administrators to spend more time where they are needed—in the schools, directly supporting the education of our students.

At the end of the testimony, it was getting late. The committee agreed to delay the vote until this week. They meet on Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon.

Here’s hoping that SB 176 advances to the senate floor for a full debate of the need to treat charter schools fairly as to facilities funding. Stay tuned.