SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – They’re not private schools, but they’re not a regular public school either.
Charter schools are separate, smaller institutions, and many parents in western Massachusetts, like Leslie Martinez, say they’re in high demand. “I would like to just open up those doors for my son and give him those opportunities. To have smaller classrooms and longer school days, the things charter schools have to offer,” she said.
Martinez likes the different approach she said charter schools have in helping boost classroom performance for certain students, but actually getting into a charter school isn’t always easy.
Parents need to fill out an application, which is then entered into a lottery. The names drawn in the lottery are the children who will get to attend charter schools.
Charter schools are funded by a percentage of the money a city or town spends on public education, which makes opponents worry that resources are being taken away from district public schools.
Advocates like school director, Dr. Sonia Correa Pope said for some children, charter schools are necessary to perform well in the classroom. “Many parents come into the charter schools with the story of their kids being bullied at traditional schools, and they come to charter schools because the environment is more family oriented,” she said.
Melissa Alamo, a 10-year-old public school student in western Massachusetts hopes she’ll get to attend a charter school for that exact reason. “I get bullied a little bit. One time they locked me in a closet and I got a head concussion during the second day of school, so my mom is really hoping that I can get into a school I belong in,” she said.
Charter schools aren’t allowed more than 9 percent of their district’s net spending. The cap rises to 18 percent for the lowest-performing10 percent school districts so that more students in underperforming schools can attend a charter school.