Representatives from Frederick County’s three charter schools spoke during Wednesday’s legislative town hall.
Frederick, Md (KM) There’s expected to be a lot of discussion about adequately funding public school construction in Annapolis during the 2020 Maryland General Assembly when it convenes next year. During Wednesday’s legislative town hall in Frederick Wednesday night, representative from the County’s three charter schools asked that funding for all public schools be equitable, and include charter schools.
“In your recommendations to the state, we request representation of the need for equitable facility funding and viable facility funding mechanisms for public charter schools in Maryland so that all public school children have equal access to a robust public education,” said Allison Rizzo, who serves as an officer on the Board of Trustees for the Frederick Classical Charter School, and is the mother of three children ages 4-10.
Charter schools are part of the local public school system, but are given some autonomy when it comes to educating their students.
Rizzo says most of these schools are located in rented buildings; she says Frederick Classical Charter School leases about 40,000 square feet of space in a business and industrial park. “Although the interior is in very good condition, and it provides adequate space for our classrooms, it offers no green space for outdoor play for our children. We have limited offices, a very small library, a small gym, no band room. So it limits our ability to provide a full range of offerings for our scholars,” she said.
Molly Carlson, representing Monocacy Valley Montessori and Carroll Creek Montessori Charter Schools, said both schools occupy buildings which do not have adequate space for classrooms. “They do not have gymnasiums. They don’t have kitchens. They don’t have a cafeteria. and they don’t have outdoor green space,” she said. “In addition, fully 18% of the annual budget for Carroll Creek Montessori and 15% of the annual budget for Monocacy Valley Montessori go to private landlords instead of initiatives that directly support student learning.”
Rizzo said the charter schools do not want to be left out when it comes to appropriating state funding for public school education. “FCCS appreciates the priority that Frederick County is placing on public education funding, and we’re just asking for the conversation of our charter school facility funding challenges to be elevated,” she said.
County Executive Jan Gardner acknowledges that public school construction funding will be a major issue when legislators gather in Annapolis next year. “I believe that every student deserves to have a seat inside a school building,” says Gardner. “Our Speaker of the House, Adrienne Jones, has indicated that the first bill out of the House this year will be a bill about school construction.”
In response to the requests from the charter schools, County Executive Gardner says she is a member of work group on school construction funding, and the issue of funding charter schools has been discussed.
By Kevin McManus