Senator Saland's Charter School Legislation Reaches Senate Floor

Stephen M. Saland

March 08, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) reported from the Senate Education Committee comprehensive charter school legislation (S.6881-A). If enacted, the legislation will require the approval of a charter school by the district of location, expand the allowable number of charter schools by 100 and give school boards of school districts and the Chancellor of New York City schools oversight of charter schools.

"While I believe that charter schools provide an important choice for parents and students, I have reservations with regard to the manner in which they are funded in our state," Senator Saland said. "As charter schools continue to open throughout New York, we must make sure that school districts and tax payers are not forced to carry an additional fiscal burden without having a choice in the matter."

The per capita costs associated with the education of a child in a particular school, exclusive of building aid, follows that child to the charter school, which, by definition, is a public school. However, the "sending’ public school must still contend with virtually all the same costs, including building heat and electricity costs, maintance of buildings, salaries and benefits for employees, along with bond indebtedness and pension costs. Rarely, if ever, does the departure of one or a number of students afford any costs savings to the "sending" school.

"Presently, the board of education in the school district where the charter school is located or, in New York City, the Chancellor has virtually no say in the establishment, the renewal or the continued oversight of the charter school," said Senator Saland. "This legislation strikes an important balance by protecting local school districts and taxpayers by involving them in the approval process and oversight of charter schools while preserving the ability of local citizens to choose to create this form of school."

Another provision in Senator Saland’s legislation will require that a charter school must receive the approval of the school board of the district for an increase in enrollment when the enrollment in charter schools currently exceeds or would exceed more than 5% of the total public school enrollment of a school district.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor.