(KCPW News) A bill that would shift charter school funding to local school districts won the approval of the House Education Committee this morning. Republican Representative Merlynn Newbold’s bill requires school districts to gradually pay for more and more students attending charter schools over the next 13 years. Chris Bleak, President of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, says charters have most of the same requirements and obligations as district schools, and should be treated as such.
“They were set up to create innovation, they do that,” says Bleak. “But ultimately they are part of the public education system and we believe that the money should follow the kid to the school, whether that be a district school or a charter school.”
But Claire Geddes, former director of Utah Legislative Watch, says charter schools are not the same as district schools. And she believes that lack of accountability for charter schools would make this a recipe for disaster.
“This is government funds without accountability and if they want to do that, they shouldn’t be able to do it through property taxes that go to the district, because those were set up to go into a pool for public education. Not to have them go individually with the student,” she argues.
Charter schools were created in Utah in the late 1990s. Newbold says there were 240 charter school students in 1999, and this year, the state projects there will be more than 46,000. The Committee passed the bill on an 8-to-5 vote. It now goes to the House floor.
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