.... Last year, we were vocal about the need to rebalance the authorization process for public charter schools. This year, we support S.B. 1096, which would effectively streamline and depoliticize the process of school approvals.
The current authorization process requires coordination between three different entities—(1) the State Board of Education (SBE), (2) the Education and Appropriations Committees, and (3) the State Department of Education (SDE). It also requires four steps—(1) an application to the SBE, (2) a public hearing, solicitation of comments, and vote on an initial certificate, (3) submission of the initial certificate to the Education and Appropriations Committees, and (4) awarding of funding to the SDE, which provides grants to local and state charters.
This process, designed to ensure accountability for public charters, has become overly cumbersome and complicated—as well as ideological. It can too easily burden a community that needs a new school with bureaucratic hurdles and political impasses. It can also delay the opening of a state-approved school so significantly that communities are forced to make alternative plans for their students and assume additional costs.
S.B. 1096 would eliminate the process of pursuing an initial certificate of approval and create a grant account for the purpose of funding new charters. This will finally allow families and communities to have access to the schools they need in a timely fashion that is not mired in red tape.
At every level of leadership in Connecticut, we have vocal and powerful support for opening and sustaining high performing public charter schools. The standards for charter schools in Connecticut are some of the most rigorous and the waiting lists of parents wishing to send their children to them are long. For these reasons, the naysayers and critics seem more out of touch each year. This bill is a common sense approach to meeting the needs of families and enhancing the quality of educational options in our state. We urge you to support S.B. 1096.