Pressure Is Building on New Charter School Seats [OPINION]
More community leaders are coming out against the expansion of charter school seats in New Bedford. City Councilor Hugh Dunn is now publicly opposing it.
Mayor Jon Mitchell was the first elected official to come out publicly against the application of Alma del Mar to add over 1,000 students to its population. Those students would all come out of the New Bedford public school system, along with the tax monies dedicated to their education. The mayor says the city budget can't afford the loss of revenue, and the state doesn't fully fund the program, so it is a huge loss for the city budget.
School Committee member Colleen Dawicki has joined Mayor Mitchell and Councillor Hugh Dunn in opposition to the expansion plan on fiscal grounds. According to the Standard-Times, she believes the expansion would "put significant pressure on the district's budget."
Alma del Mar has a great story and a dynamic leader in Will Gardner. He is passionate about his organization and the "scholars" he is educating. He has a significant number of accomplished people on his board of directors.
Who from the world of elected leaders in New Bedford will join with Will Gardner and support his plan to add more seats for children to become Alma del Mar "scholars" in the future? It would seem that at least some members of the City Council would share the vision of expanded charter schools. Is there not one member of the School Committee who believes in charter schools?
The state of Massachusetts rejected a ballot question to expand charter schools. New Bedford overwhelmingly voted down the expansion, with 58 percent saying "no" to more charter schools. However, over 13,000 voters in the city did agree to the idea of more charter schools, so there is political support in the city. The question had the most money ever spent by ballot committees. There was over $40 million spent to influence the hearts and minds.
Gov. Charlie Baker is a tremendous supporter of expanding charter schools in Massachusetts. His administration will be deciding on the question of more charter school seats in New Bedford later this year.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.