Charter Schools

Elisabeth Harrison

A judge has declined to stop a new charter school from opening in Woonsocket. City officials sought an injunction to block RISE Prep, a special type of charter school called a Mayoral Academy. They argued it would take taxpayer money away from local schools. Rhode Island Mayoral Academies Spokeswoman Katelyn Silva disagrees.

“If there are small areas where we can tweak the funding formula to feel more equitable on all sides we are behind that 100 percent,” said Silva. “Until then, I do think that money follows the child is the fairest way to fund public education.”

Elisabeth Harrison

National education advocacy group Chiefs for Change has a new CEO, and he comes from the Ocean State. The group has tapped Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA) CEO Mike Magee.

Magee, who co-founded RIMA with then-Cumberland Mayor and current Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, will step down from the organization on September 1st.


The newest mayoral charter school set to open in Rhode Island has picked a location in downtown Woonsocket. 

  RISE Prep will start with a kindergarten class this fall and grow to include a middle school. This will be the first charter elementary school in Woonsocket.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Charter schools dodged a bullet, this month when Rhode Island lawmakers ended the legislative session without agreement between House and Senate bills that could have changed the way charter schools are funded and restricted their ability to grow. 

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison asked Tim Groves, the head of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, whether he thinks public opinion is turning against charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison

After months of anticipation, the General Assembly failed to pass a single bill related to charter schools.

That's good news if you're in the charter school world. It means lawmakers failed to reach agreement on bills that would place new restrictions on the expansion of charter schools and reopen the state funding formula to reduce money for charter schools.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss how the House didn't vote for Governor Raimondo's truck-toll plan; the impact of new legislation on charter schools; and the Cranston bridge closing controversy.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

One of Rhode Island’s most controversial school leaders is retiring. Fran Gallo, the superintendent of Central Falls public schools, steps down on Friday. Her tenure includes the firing and re-hiring of high school teachers, which thrust Rhode Island into the center of a national debate over public education. Gallo sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at her office in Central Falls to look back on the firings, and what she’s learned from Rhode Island’s smallest school district.

Elisabeth Harrison

Calling it "the most restrictive and punitive charter school bill in the entire country," the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies lobbied against the legislation, which would require local approval for new and expanding charter schools.

RIMA, one of several charter school and public education advocacy groups to raise concerns about the legislation, cites negative consequences, including a "fiscal catastrophe" for schools in the process of adding grades.

The group used Providence-based Achievement First, which has opened two elementary schools, as an example.

Thanks for stopping by. The legislative year is almost over -- the traditional part, anyway -- but the political world always keeps spinning. I welcome your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

On a 6 to 3 vote, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday restricting the growth of charter schools.

The legislation sponsored by Senator Adam Satchell (D-West Warwick) requires city or town councils in a host community to approve new charter schools. The bill would also keep charter school funding at the current level until the state adopts a new formula for funding charter and traditional public schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A pair of bills that could make it harder to open more charter schools are again up for committee votes at the Statehouse.

The House bill would place a one-year pause on the creation of new charter schools. After a legislative committee found reasons to re-evaluate the way the state funds public charter schools and public school districts, the bill calls for more time for lawmakers to consider changes.

UPDATE: The charter school bills have been scratched from Thursday's committee agendas, according to RIPR Political Reporter Ian Donnis at the Statehouse. 

The bills could make it more difficult to open new charter schools. 

One bill calls for a hiatus on granting new charters, due to concerns over funding. A legislative committee has suggested the state re-examine the formula for funding districts and charter schools, which currently receive state and local dollars for each student who enrolls.

Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss his efforts as lieutenant governor, legislation restricting charter schools, the PawSox and other issues.


State lawmakers say public schools may be paying more than their fair share to support charter schools. That’s the major finding of a legislative report about the school system’s "fair funding formula."

The fair funding formula requires public schools to pay charter schools a certain amount per student that opts to attend a charter school instead. That amount is calculated on how much public schools spend per pupil. But it includes expenses charter schools haven’t had to worry about.


Charter school advocates packed the statehouse rotunda Wednesday to urge lawmakers to continue their support for charter schools. 


A statehouse panel is considering changes that could decrease funding for charter schools. Jeremy Chiappetta from Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy said families should have choices when it comes to public school.

“We are looking to continue to grow a high quality public school sector that includes charter schools, state run schools, independent schools and certainly traditional public schools,.” Chiappetta said.