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A Greater Burden

June 8, 2016

The following Letter to the Editor was posted to the Austin Chronicle on June 6, 2016.

Dear Editor,
[Re: “A Level Playing Field,” News, June 3]: The Austin Chronicle asserts that charter schools have an advantage over ISDs when building new campuses. While charter school campuses are currently exempt from some city requirements, the proposed amendments would add both time and cost to an already lengthy and expensive development process. Further, there are broader implications when considering the proposed site development regulations that are certainly not to the advantage of the students served by Austin public charter schools.

Today, there are 50 public charter school campuses in Austin with more than 18,500 students. These campuses serve higher proportions of Hispanic, African-American, economically disadvantaged, and at-risk students compared to their ISD counterparts. Public charter schools provide a quality education, support services, and resources to their communities and are generally located in areas where these students and their families reside and where they are needed the most.

Although charter schools are public schools, they receive on average $1,400 less per student in Austin because they do not receive any facilities funding. This gap results in more than 10,900 students on waiting lists to attend one of these Austin public charter schools because there are not enough seats in the classroom.
To accommodate the increasing demand to provide a quality education, Austin charter schools would have a greater burden if the City Council passes these proposed code regulations.

Many would argue that this is not an education matter, but rather a land development issue. It is actually both, and it’s to the council members' advantage to consider the benefits and quality education that public charter schools provide to the underserved populations of our great city.

David Dunn
Executive Director

A Call To Action: If you would like to help support public charter schools in Austin, please join us on Thursday, June 16, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. at Austin City Hall at S. 1st St, Austin, TX 78701.  The Austin City Council will be meeting to vote on the proposed land development regulations impacting public charters schools in Austin.  

TCSA and a coalition of Austin public charter schools including Austin Achieve Public Schools, East Austin College Prep, Goodwill Central Texas, Harmony Public Schools, IDEA Public Schools, KIPP Austin Public Schools, Montessori for All, NYOS Charter School, Texas Preparatory Schools, and Wayside Schools plan to attend the Austin City Council Meeting in support of public charter schools and students.  


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