Senate Finance Committee Bill Fischer, External Affairs Director
Thank you Chairperson Conley and distinguished members of the committee.
My name is Bill Fischer, and I am the external affairs director for RI-CAN, a local nonprofit education advocacy and research organization. Since 2010, RI-CAN has advocated for policies that ensure all children in Rhode Island receive a high-quality education.
Senate Bill 250 allows Rhode Island to support equitable funding in our public schools and to support students and families in every type of public school. The bill amends how the local, per pupil cost is used to determine the local share of education funding that is paid to a charter public school. It also amends how the state will pay the local share or contribution of charter public school tuition starting in fiscal year 2018. Finally, the bill proposes that the state will pay the full local share or contribution of charter public school tuition when the number of students attending the charter public school is greater than five percent of the total home district enrollment.
We urge you to support this bill. It creates an important mechanism to balance funding discrepancies for charter public schools in our state without pulling funds from traditional public schools in the same district. This bill ensures that students benefit from local shares of their per-pupil funding regardless of the type of school they attend.
Under this bill, Rhode Island can be more responsive to changing student enrollment data each year and support students and their learning in the schools of their choice. In the next five years alone, nearly 90 percent of our charter public schools expect to increase enrollment.* Coupled with increased demand from students and families, we know more and more of our young people will attend charter public schools. This bill allows Rhode Island to adjust charter public school funding based on actual enrollment on a yearly basis to ensure students and their schools have all the resources they need.
SB 250 helps Rhode Island support charter public schools in their home districts. Put simply, this bill and the funding it allocates makes choice real for our families and supports equitable funding throughout our state. By supporting public school districts that offer a variety of school models, we will continue to ensure that families have access to a high-quality education that best suits their child’s unique needs and talents.
Equitable public school funding is in immediate need of our attention. Please support SB 250 so that all of our kids can reach their potential in schools that foster and support their educational success.
* The National Charter School Resource Center, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Rhode Island (2013)”, pp. 17, Retreived from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vphFWMMzyqsJ:www.richarterschools.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Charter-School-Facilities-Report-FINAL-2013-2.pdf+&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari.