April 11, 2013. Festively dressed in lime green t-shirts, scores of charter school advocates brightened the State Capitol steps as they gathered on a cool lead-gray day to urge state lawmakers to “Keep the Promise” and restore state funding for charter schools.

Last year, as part of the education reform law, public charter schools were promised more equitable funding from the state, starting with this school year. In December, as part of the deficit mitigation plan, charter school funding was reduced, causing schools to scramble to balance their budgets.

The next two year budget cycle could be just as difficult for Connecticut’s public charter schools. While the proposed state budget includes increases for public charters to try to bring them more in line with non-charter funding levels, it does not go to the level committed in legislation in 2012. So, at the rally today, five speakers climbed the cold Capitol steps to exhort state legislators to keep their commitments.

Parents Santia Bennet and Gwen Petti spoke about their children flourishing in charter schools; Reverend Morrison painted a vision of hope for charter school students; and a student named William eloquently told his story of academic progress at a charter school.

If the charter schools embraced by these speakers are to continue high quality programs, those who rallied today would say more state funding is needed.  Restoring the funding levels from last year’s education reform law would require charter school funding to increase from:

  • $10,500 to $11,000 (per child) in 2013-14  and
  • $11,000 to $11,500 (per child) in 2014-15 (and beyond)

An important component of the process by which we transform public education in Connecticut will be the degree to which we embrace and resource innovative programs that can improve student achievement. We believe public charters are a critical partner in that process.