Buried in my rant about the state budget a couple weeks back was an erroneous statement that the only charter school caps to survive the conference committee were caps applied to e-schools. Apparently some new-school caps remained, but enrollment caps were removed. There were enough provisos and exceptions that I thought the effect would be negligible, but apparently the charter organizers at least are bent about it.
The caps are summarized on the Ohio Fair Schools website as follows:
(1) Establishes a statewide cap until July 1, 2007 on startup community schools
sponsored by the school districts in which the schools are located. The cap is
30 additional schools. Permits an operator to manage a new community
school in excess of the cap, based on the number of schools that the operator is
managing that are excellent, effective, or in continuous improvement. (2)
Extends the current statewide cap on the number of startup community schools
sponsored by entities other than school districts for two years to July 1,
2007. Extends the cap to 30. Permits an operator to manage a new
community school in excess of the cap, based on the number of schools that the
operator is managing that are excellent, effective, or in continuous
improvement. (3) Requires ODE within thirty days after the bill's
effective date, to conduct a lottery to fill the 30 additional slots below each
cap. (4) Essentially establishes a moratorium on startup and conversion
e-schools, by prohibiting a sponsor from entering into a contract to open a new
e-school between May 1, 2005 and the effective date of any standards governing
e-school operations enacted by the General Assembly.
Whew! Got all that? Any questions?
The Columbus Dispatch ($$$ only) reports today that charter organizers are complaining about the caps. The article is written with something of a slant toward charters. No mention of, for example, the chaos that charter schools have wrought on district budgeting.
How much the caps will help remains to be seen. We are a long way from establishing either a level playing field for traditional and charter schools, or real accountability for charters.