September 16, 2014


NY: Lawsuit Targets Funding Gap for Charter Schools. A lawsuit filed by a group of charter-school supporters alleges that a chronic funding gap between charter schools and traditional public schools violates the state constitution and disproportionately hurts minority students. . . . The suit, filed late Monday in state Supreme Court on behalf of five families in Buffalo and Rochester, says charter students in Buffalo received around $9,800 less than their district-school counterparts in the 2011-12 school year, which they said was the largest disparity in the state. In Rochester, charter students received around $6,600 less, according to the suit. . . . “This lawsuit is simply another deceptive attempt for charter schools to divert even more money away from public schools,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group for public schools. Charter-school advocates acknowledged that a court battle could take years, but they hoped the lawsuit would pressure the state legislature to act. Wall Street Journal

IL: Chicago Public Schools chief tries to quell custodian controversy. Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Monday acknowledged the controversy surrounding the district’s move to outsource school cleaning but said contracted custodians will be held accountable for clean buildings. . . The dispute over school cleanliness continued over the weekend when district officials said nearly 480 custodians who work in CPS buildings will be laid off by a private company that manages school upkeep through a multimillion-dollar contract signed in March. A district spokesman later said terminating the district’s custodial contracts had not been discussed, but officials are meeting with school principals to determine their satisfaction with the work and if changes are needed. Karen Lewis, president of the city’s teacher’s union and a possible mayoral candidate, called for the district to terminate its custodial contracts with the private companies, which it has the authority to do. “This is a real problem,” Lewis told reporters after attending Byrd-Bennett’s speech. “This is what happens when you have a very short-sighted notion of what privatization can do.” Chicago Tribune 

IL: Could a new company soon be in charge of the Indiana Toll Road? The company that operates the Indiana Toll Road and its lenders are finalizing negotiations for a debt settlement, said Indiana’s Toll Road Oversight Director James McGoff with the Indiana Finance Authority. But the state would not comment on reports that the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company may soon file for bankruptcy or that the Toll Road could get a new operator. It’s all reaction to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that said the ITRCC is weighing a possible bankruptcy filing in the coming weeks. WSBT-TV 

Charter school enrollments increased by 13 percent nationally, Nationwide, about 2.5 million public school students were enrolled in charter schools last school year, up from 789,000 a decade earlier, according to the most recent enrollment estimates from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Last year, the number of students enrolled increased by 12.6 percent from the year before. . .  California, one of the most populous states, led the nation in charter school growth last year with 104 new schools. It also closed 39 schools. Arizona added 87 and closed 16, and Florida added 75 and closed 26. Washington Post