Charter school supporters gather more than 100,000 signatures

Gov. Baker has proposed a bill to add charter schools

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It takes more than 67 thousand certified signatures to place a question on the ballot. Charter school supporters say they already have tens of thousands more than they need.

They say they’ve collected more than 100,000 signatures, 3 weeks before the deadline for certification. If certified that would be far more than the signatures needed to continue the process of putting the question on the 2016 state ballot.

“I just think it shows that there’s a lot of support, that the politics of this are really distracting to what’s really going on which is lots and lots of families are just looking for good options for their kids. Now a large number of signatures in support of the ballot initiative, I think that shows what families are looking for,” said Bill Spirer of Springfield Prep Charter School.

Springfield Prep Charter School serves just kindergarten and first graders. This is their first year being open and already they have a waiting list of more than 50 students.

Governor Charlie Baker has proposed a bill to allow the state to add up to a dozen new or expanded charters each year outside of the existing cap on schools. Those news schools would focus on high-need and low-income students.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, i think it’s a great idea. I think it’s best for all the kids and will help certain parts of the Chicopee, Springfield area,” said Paul Forrette of Chicoppe.

During the last legislative session, the state senate rejected a limited charter school expansion that was approved by the house. Senators plan to debate the issue privately Wednesday.

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