Rhode Island Mayoral Academies

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.

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.

Rhode Island’s Board of Education has voted to give preliminary approval to a new charter school in Woonsocket. The RISE Mayoral Academy would start out with a kindergarten class and grow to a K-8 school serving more than 700 students from Woonsocket, Burrillville and North Smithfield.

Critics say charter schools draw money away from regular public schools, a particular problem in Woonsocket, where school officials are working under severe budget constraints.

Rhode Island's Board of Education is poised to vote Tuesday on a new mayoral academy charter school that would serve Woonsocket, North Smithfield and Burrillville.

The Department of Education has recommended preliminary approval for the school, which eventually hopes to serve 729 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade under the name RISE Mayoral Academy.

The board is also scheduled to vote on a proposed expansion that would more than double the student body at Blackstone Academy, a charter high school in Pawtucket. 

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian has halted public hearings on a proposed Mayoral Academy Charter School.

Avedisian, who is the mayor sponsoring the proposal, says numerous issues including West Warwick's potential to pull out of the proposal,  preceded the request.

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