State rep highlights need to deny charter-school expansion this year

State Rep. Gina Calanni—who represents the west Houston and Katy areas—sent a letter to Education Commissioner Mike Morath this week asking him to reject some 100 applications for amendments to expand charter schools. The state grants an “open-enrollment charter” to operators to define a set number of campuses. But those operators can then apply for amendments to add additional campuses each year, with no public input. Often, these expansion requests don’t come with the required proper notice to nearby public school districts, nor is the need for an expansion adequately justified.

Calanni wrote:  “The approval of these nearly 100 charter expansions would mean an additional cost to the state of approximately $90 million annually above the cost to the system if these students were enrolled in a public school district. This would come at a time when all state agencies and school districts are facing significant budget crises. In addition, at least one charter requesting expansion is currently being investigated by TEA after whistleblower complaints about the treatment of students with special needs”

In April, Texas AFT made the same request in a joint letter with 17 other education organizations.