Buffalo Charter Schools Call on Elected Officials to Be Their Heroes

Posted by on 11 / 30 / 2017 0 Reactions


For Immediate Release: November 28, 2017

Contact: Jessica Mokhiber, (518) 573-0516jmokhiber@necharters.org 

Buffalo Charter Schools Call on Elected Officials to Be Their Heroes; State Charter Association Issues Report on the Critical Need for Fair Facilities Funding Across State 

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo charter school community came together today to call on their elected officials to be their heroes when crafting law and policy at the State Capitol in Albany. As schools prepare for their winter advocacy and the 2018 legislative session, school children and teachers reminded lawmakers Tuesday morning that their voices deserve to be heard – namely when it comes to equitable funding, and public facilities funding.

The Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN), the statewide association for charter schools, also released a detailed report outlining the critical need for facilities funding, offering solutions and recommendations for the upcoming session. You can view the report in its entirety by clicking here.

NECSN Policy Manager Jason Zwara, an author of the report, said, “Charter schools in Buffalo continue to be underfunded, to the tune of 60 cents on the dollar compared to district school kids, and denied public support for facilities funding – an incredible hurdle for Western, Central and Upstate charters to overcome. This inequity must end. We know how it can be done – now we need lawmakers to take up the fight in Albany.”

Charter students, staff and advocates called on their elected officials at the event at Aloma D Johnson Community Charter School, where kids were dressed as superheroes to demonstrate the need for lawmakers to stand up and be their heroes.

Elmwood Village Charter Schools' Liz Evans said, "Financing the purchase and renovation of our new school building was our single biggest challenge, bar none. There is a need in Buffalo for more great schools. Our board recognized that need and sincerely wanted to provide a solution by opening a second campus. Because we don’t get facilities funding, purchasing and renovating the building was an incredibly long and difficult process, despite demonstrating overwhelming demand. If we had access to facility monies, imagine how much more we could do for our students."

NECSN Advocacy Manager and charter school father Duncan Kirkwood said, “When I am ask our state law makers to be our heroes and fight for us, it’s personal. I am talking about my children as well as all of the other charter kids in Buffalo. Parents who choose to send their child to a charter school should not be punished by receiving less funding, and less support from the state.”

In addition to the denial of facilities funding, Buffalo charter schools feel they are routinely left out of legislative deals that benefit schools in New York City. The Senate approved disbursements of non-recurring funding in 2016 and 2017 for all charter schools statewide. However, the funds to be released in 2018 will go only to New York City charter schools. This means students in cities such as Buffalo will be further shortchanged in comparison to their New York City charter peers, at a time when they are already at a funding disadvantage because of other entrenched policy decisions.

Northeast Charter Schools Network New York State Director Andrea Rogers said, “Enough is enough. We’re calling on Buffalo lawmakers to fight for these schools and these children this year – no more last minute deals that leave out their Western New York constituents.”

In Buffalo charter school children only receive 60 cents on the dollar compared to district school children. The NECSN facilities report includes facilities solutions and recommendations that can and should be enacted.

From the report, one of NECSN’s recommendations:

“In New York, the easiest such solution builds off of the current facilities funding legislation. The state should extend that law to all charter schools statewide. Under this solution, upon request from a charter school, a host district would be required to either offer unused space within an existing district facility, or secure private or other non-district public school space at no cost to the charter school. Failing this, the district would alternatively be responsible for additional funding to the charter school equal to the lesser of the actual facility-related expenses, or 30% of the charter school’s per-pupil revenue. From a legislative perspective, this would be a relatively easy technical change, just requiring an extension of an already existing law that, for the most part, has been successful. This solution encourages charter schools and host districts to cooperate to make the most use of unused or under-used school facilities. In October 2016, the National Association of Public Charter Schools released an update to its ‘model charter legislation’ and included the New York City facility program as a model for other states. New York would be wise to extend the program statewide.”

To view the entire report, please click here.

About the Northeast Charter Schools Network: The Northeast Charter Schools Network is the membership and advocacy organization for the more than 250 charter schools in New York and Connecticut. Its mission is to support and expand high quality charter schools. 

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