Providence legislators send letter to Elorza backing opposition to Achievement First expansion
STATE HOUSE – Fourteen members of Providence’s General Assembly delegation sent a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza today in support of his refusal to endorse an expansion proposal in the city by charter school network Achievement First, and urging him to remain committed to that position to prevent draining resources from the city’s public schools.
“We are sending this message, first and foremost, as representatives of our city and our city’s interests who spend every legislative session fighting for the resources and funding that our community and our Providence students need and deserve. We are proud to have fought hard to increase state aid to Providence public schools to over $235 million in FY 2017, an increase of 27% over the last six years, including additional aid for students living in poverty as well as English language learners. That is not always an easy fight in the State House, and we want to let you know that if Achievement First’s full proposal (or any proposal with a similar financial impact) is approved, that work becomes exponentially more difficult,” said the letter, which was signed by Sen. Frank Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio, (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), Rep. John J. Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence), Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence), Rep.-elect Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Rep.-elect Moira Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
The letter continued, “This expansion will have a crippling impact on our public school students. According to a report by Internal Auditor Matthew Clarkin, Achievement First’s proposal would produce a net loss to the district of between $173 million and $179 million. How can we make the case to our colleagues that Providence needs and deserves continued state investment if our city moves forward with a proposal that would so starkly undermine its own finances and ability to provide appropriate educational resources to the vast majority of its young people?
“While in favor of continued innovation in public education, we believe innovation should be occurring in our existing public schools, including existing charter schools. It is clear we cannot afford two parallel school districts, and as elected officials we cannot support a proposal that would materially damage our students’ right to an adequately-resourced education. We are grateful that you share this position, and we urge you to stand strong in protecting Providence Public Schools and all the families and children they serve.”
Achievement First currently operates two mayoral charter schools in Providence serving 720 elementary students from Providence, Cranston, Warwick and North Providence. The network, which operates 30 charter schools in New York and Connecticut, already has approval to expand to 920 students in Providence, and this year proposed a more extensive expansion to 3,112 by the 2026-2027 school year, opening a new charter school and expanding to grades 8 through 12 here.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903