Adopted by the LWVNM Board, November 12, 2016
Also available as a DOC file (166K): LWVNM_Charter_School_Position.doc.
The League of Women Voters of New Mexicobelieves that every student should have access to a high quality, publicly funded education regardless of race, ethnicity, family income, or geographical location. The League believes in accountability, transparency, and equity in the use of public funds for education.
Charter schools are discretionary programs intended to fill unmet needs and/or to test innovative instructional strategies to produce quality educational outcomes. Policy makers must ensure that adequate funds are available for traditional public schools and define how charter schools fill unmet needs. Appropriate instructional and support services must be provided to meet the diverse needs of individual students in both traditional public and charter schools.
Regarding the mission of charter schools, the LWVNM believes the following:
A charter school should not be authorized unless
its mission would serve a need the traditional schools cannot;
funds are available;
there is a demonstrated need based on student population projections.
New Mexico should provide flexibility and supplemental funding for magnet programs and career academies within traditional public schools.
Charter school innovations demonstrated to be effective should be disseminated to improve the traditional public education system.
The state should establish a closure policy revoking the contract of a charter school that fails to meet minimum academic, financial, and organizational standards for two consecutive years or for two of the three most recent years.
For the sake of assuring accountability and transparency and minimizing the fiscal impact, LWVNM recommends the following:
A charter school's finances should be available for public scrutiny, and budget processes should be similar to those for school districts, which require the public to be provided with an opportunity for input into decision-making.
Charter school governing council members should adhere to standards and best practices as delineated by the NM School Boards Association.
The school funding formula should be equitable so as not to advantage charter schools over traditional public schools.
NM should develop an effective performance-based accountability system for charter schools focused on increased proficiency, academic growth, and college/career readiness standards to ensure that charter schools demonstrate positive student outcomes.Charter schools that do not meet the established benchmarks should be put on time-limited improvement plans and not allowed to increase enrollment until they have met the benchmarks.
LWVNM believes that public funding for virtual schools should be less per student since the schools do not require brick and mortar facilities.