Families at affiliated charters have been getting bad news left and right this week. Affiliated charters, or charter light, or hybrid charters, or any of a variety of ways used to explain the program, are semi-autonomous schools that receive their funding from the state, and yet are still for all intents and purposes tied to the the Los Angeles Unified School District. They only exist in L.A.
In the last two years, roughly three dozen schools applied for affiliated charter status. Parents donated hours of their time sitting in with teachers and administrators during their professional development time to write plans that offered autonomy and more funding in exchange for an increased workload. Teachers and administrators worked late into the evening writing the plans. For financially tapped out parents and school staffs tired of incessant cuts, it was a fair trade off. At the non-Title I schools (and schools that lost their Title I status when the threshold was raised from 40% to 50%) in question, it was the only means to support budgets that already have to choose between the most basic of supplies: the proverbial choice between toilet paper for the bathrooms or toner for the copiers.
So this week we now hear that the governor’s new funding model that brings more money to LAUSD schools will affect affiliated charters more severely than LAUSD schools and regular charters that will benefit in this Daily News article. Schools already under the affiliated model will receive the funding for 2013-14 and not after that. And truth be told, the money buffered the schools after four or five straight years of cuts.
But that’s not the end of the frustrations. As enrollment season ramps up, parents at some schools are finding out that enrollment preference is not automatic for siblings of previously permitted students; or that once enrolled, students can leave the school boundraies, and be enrolled for the term of the school. One school has so many students attending, they’ve been forced to seek out any students attending with faked addresses simply to have enough room for the incoming kindergarten class, yet they can’t remove the kids who once lived there and have moved.
Affiliated charters were sold as a way for schools to stay with the district, with their own teachers, as part of LAUSD, yet be financially feasible. These are parents who want to remain in public schools. Please, don’t make it impossible for them to do so.
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