The House version of the education bill that’s headed for conference committee could open the door to a second charter school in Somerville.
Under current law, no more than 9 percent of a school district’s funds (state and local) can go to charter schools. Prospect Hill Academy gets close to 7 percent, so there’s not much room for more. The House version of the education bill would raise the limit to 18 percent for districts in the bottom 10th on MCAS. MCAS scores are very tightly correlated with social class, and Somerville school children, on average, are a lot poorer than most Massachusetts kids. We also have a little over 50 percent from families where English isn’t the language spoken at home. So it’s no surprise that we are in the bottom 10th, along with the other communities that have a lot of low-income and immigrant kids.
The Senate version uses growth — how much kids raise their scores from year to year — in addition to the absolute level of the scores. That might show Somerville in a better light, although I’m not sure.
If someone did set up a new charter school, that could force cuts in the school budget which could affect programs. It would create a new option for some parents, but might reduce the choices open to parents in the district schools.
What do you think? Would a second charter school be good for Somerville?