Letter to the editor: Current direction reduces choice

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According to the DCSD community survey, most of us think that charter schools add value to our district. However, over the past few years, Silverthorn, Geddes, Peck and Reynolds (board majority) have allowed a political reform agenda to disrupt this balance. This was evident in the "The Systematic Impact of Charter Schools on the District" study presented last month to the board of education.

The study showed that neighborhood school enrollment is greatly impacted by the proliferation of charter schools in certain areas, like Parker. There hasn't been any consideration as to whether or not a specific geographic location needs more schools. This results in the local neighborhood school loosing enrollment. Because funding follows the student, the neighborhood school's budget gets decreased; yet, it still has to maintain the same level of operation for the remaining students...programs get cut, maintenance needs aren't met, and education quality suffers.

For DCSD's 2017-18 budget, the second largest budgetary increase was "loss of neighborhood school enrollment" in the amount of $4.54 million dollars. In a district already in a funding crisis, this makes a big impact. This situation is completely preventable with proper analysis and oversight.

Since 2012, neighborhood school enrollment has decreased by 25 percent, 19 percent in middle schools, due to charters. Over 175 schools have lost more than 100 students to nearby charters, and some greater than 400 students. If this unbalance continues, some neighborhood schools are at risk of being closed. This results in less school choice.

We need a BOE that will support charters where they are needed, while considering the enrollment needs of the entire district. Charters can be a positive addition, but not when haphazardly approved, especially in opposition to Charter Application Review Team recommendations. Vote for Holtzmann, Schor, Graziano and Leung - don't let reform politics reduce school choice.

Kimberly McSweeny

Castle Rock

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