Over at the Flypaper blog, Mike Petrilli asks the question “Could the recession be good for the charter school movement?” and gets some insightful answers from experts like Todd Ziebarth, Robin Lake, and Bryan Hassel. I’m too young to pretend I know the answer to a big question like that. Please go read what they have to say for yourself.
But here in Colorado, I know that charter school leaders see the situation as a challenge. Economic slowdown has cut state revenues, and lawmakers have to look at where to cut the budget. One of the decisions on the table is whether to cut funding to the charter school capital construction fund from $10 million down to $5 million. This money goes to buy or lease property, as well as to do building construction, renovation, and major maintenance.
The proposed cut might not be a huge deal if charter schools were funded equitably in the first place. You can listen to Colorado League of Charter Schools executive director Jim Griffin explain the handicaps public charter schools face in facilities funding, and what sort of effects the proposed reduction might have:
I can’t answer big questions like the ones Mr. Petrilli asks, and I can’t give advice to the big people in the State Capitol who have hard decisions to make. But they really need to think seriously about the ramifications of slashing the charter school capital construction fund before they decide to pull the trigger on any sort of budget changes.