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January 24, 2022
     
IT'S NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK

Coast-to-Coast Celebrations with 26,000 Events Scheduled!
From the Aloha Tower in Hawaii, to Niagara Falls on the New York-Canada border, to The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach, dozens of national monuments and public buildings will light up in National School Choice Week (NSCW) colors this week. In Pennsylvania more than 1,000 events are planned, including turning Pittsburgh’s Koppers Building red and yellow on January 28th. In California, 2,193 schools and organizations will celebrate the 12th annual event with school fairs, parent information sessions, open houses and other awareness events to encourage parents of the state’s 9.2 million students to exercise their right to school choice.  Find an event near you here.
 
NSCW also celebrates with a new dance every year - this year, public charter school students from Houston, Texas led the tutorial, which you can find here. If you’re feeling more sedate, you can attend a webinar debuting a compelling new video that leverages teachers’ voices in favor of school choice. School Improvement Partnership’s Tressa Pankovits will moderate Reinventing America’s Schools’ panel of teachers, teacher leaders, and a special guest, National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella. It’s free and you can register here.
     
School Choice Week is more relevant than ever this year - in a blind, nationwide survey of 2,715 parents of children between ages 5 and 18 years old during the first week of 2022, more than half of respondents said either they had in the past year or were considering switching their child’s school. Last fall, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools did a state-by-state analysis that found charter school enrollment grew in 39 states since the beginning of the pandemic, adding almost a quarter of a million students. Now, that is worth celebrating!
                         
DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE FACILITIES BILL
Goal: Increase and Expand Public Charter School Campuses in New Mexico
Legislation introduced into the current session of the New Mexico Legislature is intended to make it easier for New Mexico public charter schools to purchase, lease or construct buildings.The Charter School Facilities Improvement Bill (HB 43), co-sponsored by Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Meredith Dixon (D-Bernalillo) would do three things. One would be to create a new revolving loan fund through the New Mexico Finance Authority that would allow charter schools to receive matching grants when awarded state public school facilities funding to construct or buy buildings.
 
Another would seek to give more weight to an existing requirement that public school districts inform charter schools on an annual basis about empty buildings that could be leased or purchased by establishing a New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority with oversight of those reporting activities.
 
The third would create more “consistent and predictable” funding for lease assistance, the state grants that charter schools receive for lease payments on buildings. Right now, the grants will not pay for non-classroom space, such as hallways and bathrooms. The bill would remove space restrictions. Instead, they would be based on full-time student enrollment, making it easier for schools to plan and budget. Lisa Dunlap, Bill Would Assist Charter Schools with Building Needs, Roswell Daily Record, January 19, 2022
               
MORE MONEY FOR NEW YORK CITY CHARTER SCHOOLS

New Governor also Favors Leaving New Mayor in Charge
Flush with cash from the feds and previous tax hikes on the wealthy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul proposed boosting funding for Big Apple public charter schools by 4.7 percent. Hochul’s proposal will increase aid to charter schools to $17,633 per student, up from $16,844, according to the NYC Charter School Center. Although the boost lags behind an increase of 7.1 percent for traditional K-12 schools, it’s sorely needed because aid to public charter schools has been frozen for the past two years.
 
Hochul also called for extending Mayor Eric Adams’ authority to control the New York City public education system for the duration of his first term. Her four-year extension is a gift to the new mayor because the law giving him such control was set to expire in June. Adams is decidedly pro-charter school. Roughly 138,000 students currently attend 267 public charter schools citywide, and Black and brown students that come from homes with low incomes make up the majority of those students. Charter school advocates hope that Adams will next push the state legislature to lift the city’s maxed-out charter school cap to accommodate long waiting lists. Andrew Campanile, Hochul Boosts Funding for Charters, Gives Adams 4 Years to Run NYC Schools, The New Your Post, January 18, 2022
 
                              
FLORIDA CHARTER RENEWAL BILL ON THE WAY TO BECOMING LAW

Passes Out of Committee with Rare Bi-Partisan Support
A House bill putting guardrails on how school districts handle public charter school renewals unanimously passed its second Florida House Education Committee Hearing last week. HB 225 will require school boards to renew — or not renew —charter schools at least 90 days before the school year ends. Otherwise, the charter will renew automatically. The bill is a response to a mess created by the Hillsborough County School Board’s vote to reject four public charter schools’ renewals just 56 days before school was to start last summer. The district ultimately renewed the charters after Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran threatened to withhold funding for the districts. “Teachers were trying to find jobs. Parents are trying to find new schools for their children,” the bill’s sponsor said. “If there is a problem with a charter school, districts should start addressing it with plenty of time.” Tristan Wood, Charter School Bill Unanimously Passes Second Committee, Florida Politics, January 19, 2022
LOUISIANA PARISH GETS ITS FIRST CHARTER SCHOOL
Will Cater to Students with Dyslexia
Despite lobbying by the local school superintendent, a public charter school for students with dyslexia is coming to St. Tammany Parish. The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) bypassed the district in approving Key Academy North Shore (KANS), a first for a parish that has never had a charter school. The superintendent claimed the traditional schools could “adequately” teach dyslexic students - causing parents at the BESE board meeting to erupt with snorts and laughter. KANS will train teachers to become Certified Academic Language Therapists and will test students for the condition for free. It plans to open in time for the 2022-2023 school year with 96 students in grades 1-4, and will add one grade of 48 students each year until it reaches full capacity of 360 students in grades 1-8. Marie Fazo, Charter School for Students with Dyslexia Will Open in St. Tammany After BESE Vote, NOLA.com, January 19, 2022
         
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCETON CHARTER SCHOOL!
Celebrating a Quarter of a Century of High Quality Education
The New Jersey Department of Education approved the charter for the Princeton Charter School (PCS) in January 1997. Nine months later, the school welcomed its first 72 students in the basement of the Nassau Presbyterian Church.

With a vision of offering Princeton families a choice in public education with a particular focus on high academic standards and early immersive foreign language instruction, the school expanded over the years to include kindergarten to eighth grade and now, 25 years later, has 424 students. Since the first graduating class in 2000, more than 900 students have graduated from PCS. Erin Redmond, who was one of the initial group of 72 students in 1997, is now the PCS school nurse. She said, “I received such a great education here and know that the education I received here helped to guide me onto a path of success throughout high school and college.”

Admission to PCS is by a random lottery, limited to Princeton residents. Since 2020 the school has offered a weighted lottery for Princeton residents of limited financial means. Each year, the school has a long waiting list of applicants, with 90 applying for just 38 spots in last year’s kindergarten class.

The campus now comprises six buildings, including classrooms and learning spaces, a cafeteria; a campus center with theater, gym, art studio, and music classroom; and an administration building. Donald Gilpin, Princeton Charter School Celebrates 25 Years of Educating Local Students, Town Topics, January 19, 2022

School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. The School Improvement Partnership Database (or SIP Database) contains financial, academic and operating data on charter schools and charter school borrowers around the country. It is being built out to include all charter schools and charter school borrowers in the coming months. From each financial audit for a CMO or charter school, the SIP Database contains 50 financial data points, always refreshing automatically to include the three most recent years. The SIP Database has a dashboard for subscribers that displays requested data points in an easy-to read-fashion, and such data can be exported in Excel from the SIP Database to the subscriber. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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