If Question 2 passes and a new charter school opens in Somerville, the School Department could be forced to close one or two elementary schools and/or slash popular school programs like music and athletics, Somerville’s School Committee chair, mayor, and legislative leaders said today.
They pointed to cost projections developed by the School Department of the impact on city schools of a new 390-student charter school.
The statement is signed by School Committee chair Carrie Normand, Mayor Joe Curtatone, State Senator Pat Jehlen, State Representatives Christine Barber and Denise Provost, and Mike Connolly, who is unopposed for State Representative in a district that includes East Somerville.
The Somerville School Committee and Board of Aldermen have both unanimously passed resolutions against Question 2.
“You have probably seen the flood of TV ads for Question 2 promising, ‘If you like your school, Question 2 will not affect you.’ Somerville is proof that’s completely untrue,” the city leaders said.
“We’re the highest performing urban district in the state, but Somerville is not immune from a charter school opening and interrupting the progress we’re making.
“We are very close to our ‘cap’ on charter school spending, which is 9% of the amount we spend on our excellent schools.
“If Question 2 passes, our charter spending could rise rapidly. Recently, the Somerville School Department laid out the budget numbers for a small, 390-student new charter school. In year 3, the state would take $3 million out of our budget for this new school. In year 6, $5.3 million.
“That’s assuming we get the state reimbursement for new charter expenses, which in fact has not happened for the last three years.
“To make up for such a massive loss, we would have to make many painful choices including closing schools, raising fees, and cutting programs. Here are examples of what we spend on our schools:
• Our smallest elementary school, the Brown, runs on a budget of $1.8 million in salaries.
• The next smallest, the West Somerville, runs on a budget of $2.5 million in salaries.
• Our wonderful music program costs $1.2 million in salaries.
• We spend about $670,000 on athletics.
“These are schools and programs that parents definitely like. How can anyone say Question 2 would not affect them?
“If Question 2 passes, Somerville will have no control over the state’s decision to open a new charter here. Our role will be simply to pay for it.
“If you like your school, vote No.”