The Lowell Sun and Charter Schools – Stage 2

The Lowell “Sun” newspaper has been endlessly quoted by those special interests who are pushing the Charter School controversy.  They have said that the Lowell newspaper has stated that there is no lack of funding for regular schools in Question 2.  Maybe, in some form, that is true.  But, it is wise to look at the “Sun’s” headlines in their newspaper of October 12, 2016.  That day’s charter school headline is “Report: Lowells charter bill soars.”  The rest of the headline says it all…”Councilors say city faces unfair burden.”  (Punctuation and Capitalization taken from the actual headline).

The first sentence says, “A new report from the city auditor portrays charter schools as having a significant negative financial effect on the city, with the city’s required payments for charter schools having undergone a “drastic spike.”  (Punctuation taken from the newspaper article),   The article states  that Lowell will be receiving more money from the state for charter schools, but, according to Lowell Auditor Bryan Perry, “costs far outpace that.” (Sun newspaper).  According to the newspaper, Councilor Jim Milinazzo states “It’s clearly costing the taxpayers of Lowell.”  (Sun)

Both the City Council and the School Committee agreed that lifting the cap on charter schools “would hurt local aid to Lowell because of the way that school reimbursements are calculated.”  (Sun)  “In Lowell, the city’s net costs for charter schools have more than doubled since the 2007 budget year, Perry said.” (Sun)  It further states that charter school costs have risen by 8.6 million dollars “while reimbursements for charter school students have stayed relatively flat.” (Sun)  The problem seems to stem from the fact that the state reimburses for the first year at 100% while reimbursements for the first five years stay at 25%.

Lowell “continues to incur a high contribution to charter schools…” according to Perry.  Further, the assessment increase “has caused a drastic spike in the city’s obligation for charter schools.

City councilors and City Manager Kevin Murphy “gave sharp criticism Tuesday to the effect charter schools have had on the city budget.”  “There are streetlights we’d like to put up…There are streets we’d like to pave, things we’ve put on the back burner.” the City Manager stated.  One councilor stated that “It might not affect an Andover, but it is going to affect Lowell.” (Sun)  The “Sun” stated that a “national think tank” stated that they came to a separate conclusion.  130 school districts in 130 towns have voted in opposition to the charter schools question.  Lowell is apparently one of them.

In a table published in the paper, between fiscal 2007 and projected costs for 2017, there has been an increase in monies paid the charter schools in the vicinity of ten million, six hundred thousand dollars that the city has to pay.

The conclusion is that the state has not reimbursed communities as much as it “should.” (Sun)

The reason that I believe this is noteworthy is because of the continued use by the special interests in favor of removing the cap of local newspaper’s editorials.  The ‘Sun’ and the Boston ‘Globe,’ and the ‘Herald,’ are quoted liberally in the commercials for a “Yes” vote on Question 2.  I have stated before that the charter schools do not hire certified teachers and pay their teachers much less than the public school systems do.  This seems to me to be in  violation of the Department of Education’s rules and regulations.  You have to be certified to teach in Lowell’s public schools.  Conversely, it seems to me, you would have to be certified to be a teacher in a charter school in Massachusetts.

Finally, again, Massachusetts has the best students in the nation.  Why not focus on making their experiences more reflective of that fact, and keep charter schools at bay?