Somerville’s No On 2 Rally at the Concourse 

Photos by Frank Santangelo 

Massachusetts Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion, Question 2 (2016)

The Massachusetts Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion Initiative, also known as Question 2, is on the November 8, 2016, ballotin Massachusetts as an indirect initiated state statute.
A “yes” vote supports this proposal to authorize up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education per year.

A “no” vote opposes this proposal to authorize up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools, thereby maintaining the current charter school cap.

Overview

Although legislation had been introduced or passed by the Massachusetts state legislature, Question 2 is the first measure relating to school choice in Massachusetts ballot measure history. 
Question 2 would give the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education the authority to approve 12 new charter schools or to expand existing charter schools as a result of increased enrollment each year beginning on January 1, 2017. Priority would be given to those charter school applicants who seek to open a charter school in public school districts that are in the bottom 25 percent in the two years before application. Further, the Board would establish standards by which annual performance reviews would be judged.
Text of measure

Ballot question

The question will be on the ballot as follows:
“ QUESTION 2. Charter school expansion. The question, if approved, would let state education officials approve up to 12 new charter schools a year. ”

Petition name

The petition name is as follows:
“ An Act to Allow Fair Access to Public Charter Schools ”

Ballot summary

The summary is as follows:
“ This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.

Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.
If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest.
New charter schools and enrollment expansions approved under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board.
The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2017.

Full text

The full text of the measure is as follows:[1]
“ SECTION 1. Subsection (i) of section 89 of chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after paragraph the following new paragraph:—

(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection (i) relative to the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the commonwealth or in any district, the board may approve up to 12 additional commonwealth charters, commonwealth charter amendments to increase authorized enrollment, or a combination thereof per year; provided that the total enrollment authorized by all such approvals in a single fiscal year shall not exceed 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment for such year as determined by the board; provided further, that in the event that the number of qualified applicants in any year exceeds the board shall give priority among such qualified applicants to those seeking to establish or expand enrollment in commonwealth charter schools in districts where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system approved by the board is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the two years preceding the charter application and where the demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest; provided further that the board shall apply to all such applicants review and approval standards as rigorous as those applied to all other commonwealth charter applicants; provided further that the recruitment and retention and multilingual outreach provisions of paragraph shall apply to any commonwealth charter school authorized under this paragraph; and provided further that any new commonwealth charter schools authorized by this paragraph shall be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the board.
Nothing in this paragraph shall affect the issuance of commonwealth charters under paragraph. The percentages of net school spending set forth in paragraphs and shall not apply to or otherwise operate to limit the board’s authority to approve commonwealth charters or commonwealth charter amendments under this paragraph; provided, however, that such percentages shall continue to apply to commonwealth charters issued otherwise than under this paragraph.
Except as provided in this paragraph, all otherwise applicable provisions of this section shall apply to commonwealth charters or amendments approved under this paragraph.

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