The charter funding debate

The impact of charter schools on district school budgets has become a central point of contention in the debate over Question 2, the November ballot question that would allow an expansion in the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.

A basic principle of school funding in the state is that the dollars follow the students, with a set per-pupil allotment for every public school student in a community, whether they attend a district school or charter school. That formula provides an even paying field for schools, as a recent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report showed.

But the report acknowledges that charter school growth nonetheless can mean difficult budget challenges for individual districts as they adjust for reduced enrollment and spending. Stephanie Hirsch, a municipal and state finance consultant, and Sam Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, dig into those issues in this week’s Codcast. Hirsch has developed a web tool to examine the impact of charter growth on district budgets with her husband, Joe Calzaretta, a mathematician and software engineer. They describe it here.

“It’s extremely painful to make these cuts locally, especially in a short period of time,” she says. Hirsch thinks passing Question 2 would only compound the problems for districts.

Meanwhile, Tyler faults city leaders for putting off the day of reckoning in dealing with Boston’s charter school growth. The city’s school department budgeting has yet to “address the challenge that 10,000 students in Boston are now going to charter schools,” he says. Though it should have happened much earlier, he says Boston officials are beginning to deal with the issue, “but it’s going to take some time.”

–MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

The scandal at the Department of Conservation and Recreation threatens the fix-it-man reformer image that has carried Gov. Charlie Baker high in popularity polling. (Boston Globe)

Cynthia Lewis, the environmental affairs staffer who charged that she was punished because her fiance planned to challenge a Republican state senator, says she’s glad the administration finally took action but disappointed that it said there was no clear proof that “political retaliation” was at play. (Boston Herald)

Baker closes the books on fiscal 2016 by signing a final supplemental spending bill that also raids the Convention Center Fund for $60 million to balance the budget. (Politico)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

One jaw-dropping dimension to the scandal surrounding ousted Gloucester police chief Leonard Campanello: How he managed to exchange 653 texts with someone in a single day. The Globe’s Nestor Ramos reports — in a front page, first-person feature — that pulling off such a feat isn’t for the faint of thumb. Meanwhile, Gloucester’s mayor, Sefatia Romeo Theken, rescinds her firing of Campanello for allegedly destroying evidence related to an investigation of his relationship with two women and agrees to let him retire in January (he’ll be on paid administrative leave until then). (Lawyers, negotiations, etc.) Deputy police chief John McCarthy is named acting chief by Romeo Theken. (Gloucester Times)

A National Guard helicopter and a posse of State Police swooped down on the property of an 81-year-old Amherst grandmother last month to cut down and remove the single marijuana plant she cultivated in her backyard to help relieve her glaucoma. (Boston Herald) Several local Western Mass. officials call the raids that have been carried out in the region “overkill.” (Boston Herald)

Auburn police arrest a father who followed a bus of middle-schoolers dressed as a clown. Officers plan to charge him with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace even though the father had a child on the bus. (Telegram & Gazette)

Quincy officials have dropped plans to build a new courthouse as part of the redevelopment of the Quincy Center MBTA station because the state says there won’t be any money to pay for the facility any time soon. (Patriot Ledger)

Two Fall River city councilors want voters to decide the fate of seven streetscape projects totaling $10.5 million proposed by Mayor Jasiel Correia. Correia filed the bonding orders separately but city ordinances require voters to approve bond issuances over $5 million. (Herald News)

A Lowell Sun editorial praises all the positive activity going on in the city. “Not a bad week’s work for a Gateway City,” the editorial concludes.

ELECTIONS

A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in New Hampshire down to 2 points, and it shows Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte up six points over challenger Maggie Hassan, the state’s current governor. (Boston Globe) Pay no heed to polls except those that show Trump ahead, says the American Spectator, because Trump will triumph.

Trump holds a town hall forum in New Hampshire in advance of Sunday’s town-hall-style debate, but this one doesn’t exactly put him through the wringer, with pre-screened questions read to him by Herald columnist and Trump booster Howie Carr in front of an invitation-only audience selected by his campaign. (Boston Globe) A Herald story makes no mention of Carr’s support for Trump. (Boston Herald) Neither does Carr, who offers a lighthearted, oddly rambling account of his moment in the national spotlight.

There is at least one immigrant group that favors TrumpRussians. (U.S. News & World Report)

Bill Weld reaffirms his commitment to the Libertarian ticket during a stop in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)

Michelle Obama’s forceful campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton is an unprecedented level of political activity for a sitting First Lady, say historians. (Boston Globe)

Hurricane Matthew could have an impact on voter registration in Florida, which ends on Tuesday. (U.S. News & World Report)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Employers added 156,000 new jobs in September while wages ticked up slightly though pockets of economic weakness such as the unemployment rate remain, according to the latest Labor Department report. (New York Times)

Boston labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan has filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging that Uber’s rating system for drivers is racially discriminatory because of passenger biases. (Boston Globe)

A number of parents have filed complaints with the state attorney general’s office alleging they have been stiffed by a West Bridgewater driving school owned by a Randolph police sergeant that is closing down even though they’ve paid in advance for their children’s lessons. (The Enterprise)

EDUCATION

Attorney General Maura Healey has launched an investigation into possible misuse of funds by a fundraising arm of Roxbury Community College and the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, which the college owns. (Boston Globe) A Globe editorial says it’s time for “a new direction” in the oversight of the track.

Problem-plagued Suffolk University launches a search for a new president. (Boston Globe)

School administrators in Medway are working on contract negotiations with the teachers’ union that would give elementary students more recess time. (MetroWest Daily News)

A first-of-its-kind survey finds gay, lesbian, and bisexual students are more likely to be rape victims in dating situations than their straight classmates. (Associated Press)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Framingham forum delved into the disparity race plays in who receives mental health services. (MetroWest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

Green Line extension getting close to being a go. (CommonWealth)

The MassDOT board approves new electronic toll rates, but gives a grace period for those a little slow to make the switch to transponders. (Masslive)

The MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board approves privatization of the transit authority’s money room. (CommonWealth) The Carmen’s Union, whose leaders were arrested in a protest yesterday, vows to continue its fight against privatization. (Boston Herald)

A Philadelphia judge orders Uber and Lyft to stop providing service in the city. (Governing)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Cape Wind officials are dropping their appeal to extend state permitting to connect to the electric grid, an indication backers are giving up on the 15-year pursuit to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. (Cape Cod Times)

An Eagle-Tribune editorial praises the Trustees of Reservations for dipping into reserves to close on the purchase of 20 acres at Crane’s Beach in Ipswich.

A proposal for a 1,000-megawatt power plant fueled by either oil or gas is facing strong opposition in Rhode Island. (Telegram & Gazette)

Nearly 300 people in Haiti were killed when Hurricane Matthew ripped across the impoverished island. The Category 3 storm is lingering off the central coast of Florida and officials are telling residents to evacuate because the worst is yet to come. (New York Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The CEO of Backpage.com, one of the largest online advertisers for paid and unpaid sexual services, was arrested and charged with conspiracy and pimping of minors after law enforcement officials raided the company’s Dallas headquarters. (New York Times)

A report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts says racial disparities persist in marijuana arrests. (Masslive)

MEDIA

Ken Doctor interviews New York Times editor Dean Baquet on calling out lies and building a digital newsroom. (Nieman Journalism Lab)