Opinion: Charter Reimbursements are Meant as a Cushion

Date Published: 
February 11, 2019
Author: 
Keri Rodrigues

To listen to some Cape school officials (“Schools could take hit in education funding,” Jan. 31, Page One), one might not know that districts are being paid for students they don’t educate.

That’s essentially what charter reimbursements do. For years after a student leaves a district school for a public charter school, the state refunds the district for state aid that leaves with the student. While the Legislature has not always fully funded it, it’s important to note that any reimbursement augments the amount of money districts would otherwise receive.

Districts are not meant to receive reimbursements indefinitely, but give few years of leeway when adjusting their budgets after students leave, taking with them their associated Chapter 70 state education aid dollars. That money, after all, belongs to the student, not the district.

Which brings us to the key point offered by Barnstable Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown: Barnstable can weather reimbursement reductions because administrators plan for it when crafting their budget.

All districts should approach reimbursements with this mindset. Reimbursements provide a helpful cushion, but they are not meant to last forever. The focus should be on using that time to adjust district spending to serve students well.

Keri Rodrigues

Medford

The writer is founder of Massachusetts Parents United, a nonprofit parent advocacy organization.