Mass. Senate debates charter schools

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The waitlists are long, and frustration is growing among parents. As of October there were 34,000 Massachusetts students waiting to get into a charter school. Top state leaders hope to avoid a ballot question by passing legislation that satisfies both charter school advocates and opponents, but it is proving to be difficult.
State Senator James Welch (D-West Springfield) said, “I think for many people, this legislation probably goes a little bit too far, and for many people it doesn’t go far enough.”
The state Senate spent much of Thursday debating a bill to expand access to charters, while investing more funding in all public schools. The proposal is expected to cost taxpayers close to $1.5 billion dollars over seven years.
Charters compete with traditional public schools for state funding. Critics argue that expansion would reduce resources from district schools that serve many more students. Four percent of students attend charter schools.
State Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield) said the bill is way too complicated.
“The issue here is, will the Senate bill be approved by the House? Will the final product be approved by the Governor? It doesn’t even have the legs to move, and nobody really knows that at this time,” he said.
Governor Charlie Baker argues that the original Senate proposal would be a burden on taxpayers, and would not lessen the long waitlist.

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