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School board opposes charter school expansion

3/9/2017 -- Last night, the Parkway Board of Education took formal action on a resolution in opposition to charter school expansion in Missouri. Our board voted 7-0 to oppose charter school expansion in Parkway and other high-performing, accredited school districts.

Read the resolution here.

More information about charter schools is included below.

Why is the school board concerned about charter school expansion right now?
The General Assembly is currently debating whether to expand charter schools across the state of Missouri. The House Education Committee passed House Bill 634 last week. The bill is expected to go the House floor for debate soon. House Bill 634, in its current form, would allow charter schools in any first class or charter county in Missouri. This represents approximately 70 percent of Missouri’s population and includes St. Louis County and St. Charles County.

What is a charter school?
Charter schools are classified as public schools and funded by Missouri taxpayers. They operate more like private schools. An unelected, non-profit board governs charter schools. Therefore, local communities and school districts do not oversee charter schools located in their districts.

What could be the impact on your school or classroom?
The impact to local schools and districts could be substantial. For example, if only 300 students who reside in the Parkway community, regardless of whether they currently attend Parkway or not, enroll in a charter school, Parkway estimates the budget would be reduced by more than $3.5 million. This is the equivalent of removing 50 Parkway teachers from classrooms.

If a student residing in Parkway (who may or may not be enrolled in Parkway Schools) chooses to enroll in a charter school (within Parkway or even in a neighboring district/county), Parkway would pay the charter school $10,270 annually for that student to attend the charter school. Only $562 would come from state funding per student. The remaining $9,708 per student would be locally funded by Parkway taxpayers.

Therefore, charter schools can dilute resources and opportunities for all students. If students leave from public school classrooms to attend a charter school, the total cost of operating a district is essentially unchanged, as districts are still left with less money to cover the same operating expenses, such as maintenance, utilities and transportation costs. To put it another way, if one student leaves one classroom to attend a charter school, a district pays for that student to attend the charter school, but does not save money because it can’t lay off 1/25th of a teacher.

How do charter schools perform?
In 2016, less than 50 percent of the charter schools in the state of Missouri met basic academic performance standards. Since 1999, 21 charter schools have failed in the St. Louis and Kansas City School Districts costing state and local taxpayers more than $620 million, according to the Missouri Association of School Administrators.

To learn more about charter school performance, see a recent article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/struggling-confluence-charter-schools-are-renewed-for-five-more-years/article_7e287ea0-c9ac-5dcf-b682-1d0edeac8eb6.html