Holiday Charter School Laundry
Edwina and Stash:
First. Will the Charter School be for the entire population of school children in Montague?
Yes, although it depends what you mean by "entire population." Anyone can apply and they must be accepted according to a lottery. But of course a charter school is created with a certain size, which limits how many will be accepted. Furthermore, each sending school district has a "cap" on the number of students it can send to charter schools (even critics of charter schools want the cap). So that limits the number of slots available.
Second: Will the Charter School address the education of students with special needs and learning differences?
Charter schools are public schools and must serve students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans for special needs students). I am not sure how students with severe disabilities who need more elaborate services and perhaps even services provided out of district are dealt with. I suspect most of these students, who generally are served by existing school districts, would hesitate to apply to a charter school unless it created special programs to attract them.
I made my position on charter Schools quite clear when I ran for school committee. I support charter schools as innovatve efforts to reform education but am opposed to the current funding mechanism. It is a tough call but on balance I support the current charter school proposal even though the funding mechanism is flawed. I respect and will listen to opposing views.This was not a major issue during the election and may have gone under the radar for a lot of people but I do not think it is fair to say I am not serving the voters who elected me. Also I suspect those voters are divided on the issue.
I also believe that some (not all!) of the most vocal critics of Charter Schools on the school committee oppose innovation and reform, including a major change in the financing of education. They not only oppose charter school innovations but they have supported a system that passes unaffordable assessments on to the member towns. I feel there is a connection.
To make matters worse, several school committee members appear to believe that those of us who support the local charter proposal have no right to take that position, are heretics who do not support public education, and perhaps even should not be allowed to speak on the topic at meetings. This is outrageous and as PaulK points out sets a rather bad example for our students. This is also consistent with the mentality that has produced unaffordable assessments to the towns.