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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Md. charter schools show strong gains statewide, but not in Prince George's County

(Updated December 7, 2005)
"Md. Charter Schools Show Strong Gains; Backers See Problems in Law, Funding"
Post, December 7, 2005 by Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writer
[. . .]
Prince George's County is emblematic of the uncertainty facing charter schools. A proposed charter school in the county's Marlow Heights community won preliminary approval but has not opened because of a funding dispute. Five other applications are pending in Prince George's, said Patrick Crain of the state Department of Education.

Among them is the Potomac Public Charter School, proposed for the Fort Washington area. Deborah Driver, one of the organizers, said the obstacles to opening a charter school in the county are immense because the school system wields power of approval over a would-be competitor. "It's like you make an application to McDonald's to see if you can open up a Burger King," Driver said.

She said the Potomac proposal assumes a funding level of $5,800 per pupil from the county system, which she called "absurdly low."

The county school system has an operating budget of nearly $1.4 billion a year and its enrollment is about 134,000. That amounts to more than $10,000 per pupil. But much of that money pays for countywide services or is set aside for specific uses under state and federal law.

In Prince George's, school board Chairman Beatrice P. Tignor (Upper Marlboro) denied that the county system has resisted charter schools. "I think they're welcome," Tignor said. "I really do."

But Tignor said money remains a sticking point. A Prince George's judge last month sided with the county school system in its lawsuit over charter funding, ruling that the state should revise the guidelines.
"Charter schools seek sites in county that has refused them"
Gazette, December 1, 2005 (by Guy Leonard)


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