- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 28, 2005

BALTIMORE — The Maryland State Board of Education has received an outline about how charter schools will be funded after requiring that the independently run public schools receive the same funding as regular public schools.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick emphasized that the ruling earlier this month is a starting point.

“We really haven’t seen implementation yet,” she said. “When we get to implementation, I think there are other kinds of issues that will arise.”

Mrs. Grasmick said the board was working to enable charter schools to open in September.

Board members were recently briefed by department staff on how the ruling will affect various formulas for special education and Title I funding.

Edward Root, the board’s president, described the ruling as “the beginning of a new era in education in Maryland.”

“As this process evolves, there will doubtless be tweaking; there will be fine-tuning of the state board’s basic decision as issues emerge and the record is developed,” he said.

Earlier this month, the board ruled on appeals by charter schools in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. Local school systems may have to spend more than they thought on charter schools as a result of the rulings.

Maryland enacted a law allowing charter schools about two years ago.

Steve Brooks, chief of the budget branch for the board, said Maryland will use a per-pupil funding formula. He said it will be important in the startup year of charter schools in Maryland that funding levels be clearly defined and understood.

Mr. Brooks also said it is important to understand that the average will not necessarily represent an amount that a specific student receives.

“Some students will cost more to educate, some will cost less,” he said. “However, use of the average costs ensures that the same level of funding per pupil will be available to the charter school as is available districtwide.”

Mr. Brooks also said there is no enrollment history at charter schools on which to base a more refined, enrollment-driven allocation of funds.

“Of course, as enrollment history develops, this issue could certainly be revisited and a more complex funding methodology be examined,” he told the board.

Carol Ann Baglin, assistant state superintendent for special education, emphasized that students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools have the same rights.

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