I know Kilroy has touched on this quite a few times, along with other bloggers, but why in the hell are charters allowed to keep money that public school districts can’t? Is this their way of compensating for “lack of funds” they cry about all the time? Cause they sure are getting a lot of left-over cash as you can see by the below documents!
John Kowalko has forwarded this to MANY folks via email, and I didn’t realize the full scope of it.
Despite Speaker Schwartzkopf’ s false and exaggerated claim to the contrary I am willing and able to explore facts and reach legitimate compromises despite his unjustified and false accusations to the contrary. Here is a prime example where I attempted to compromise on an issue before the Education committee and the Joint Finance committee and that attempt was rebuffed with ultimately harmful consequences to the taxpayers’ money and trust in the General assembly.
Over the past five-six years epilogue language in the budget has been created and passed that contravenes existing code directing that transportation allotments to public schools and charter schools provided by the taxpayers and not used for transportation purposes must be returned to the general fund. This has enabled Charters to use this money for any purpose with no accountability to taxpayers or the general assembly. After numerous futile attempts to have language in the epilogue that continually contradicts and violates existing law be forbidden I was faced with the reality that the attitude of leadership was to not tamper with the epilogue process. I agreed to delay my efforts to reform the epilogue system and allow supporters of unfettered and unaccountable access to the excess school transportation funding to bring legislation that would repeal existing code although I stated that I would oppose such an irresponsible action. I was able to muster opposition to proposed legislation that would have repealed the existing code mandating accountability of transportation funding and returning of any funds not used specifically for transportation and the sponsor withdrew the legislation knowing it did not have support. Contrary to the Speaker’s contention that I refuse to compromise, I did not propose legislation that would impede the often necessary use of epilogue language in the end of session budget dialogue. I did, however, make it perfectly clear that if this practice of continually rewriting and contravening existing code were to persist I would be forced to propose legislation to reform this abuse.
Please note in the attached information that Family Foundations, the school whose leaders have been accused of misuse of funds, received in excess of $707,000 in transportation money and kept more than half of that money- almost $400,000- for ‘other’ uses.
Over the last four years I have strenuously and vocally objected (always agreeing to attempts at compromise) to this use of epilogue language that has been specifically added to the budget in spite of the fact that it directly contravenes existing code. This ensures that this use of this money is not accountable to the taxpayers and the General Assembly and violates the principle of specific purpose allotments of taxpayer money. This is akin to a blank check being issued to charter school management and you only need to look at the “Family Foundation” numbers attached to draw your own conclusions. Throughout Representative Schwartzkopf’s tenure as majority leader and speaker he has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to my documented attempts to rectify this betrayal of the public trust and I find it very appropriate under current circumstances to point out how situations such as the Family Foundations scandal are able to develop and continue.
Please review all of the documents attached and if you feel the need for clarification, I have kept the records of these dialogues and proposals and will engage in any conversation on the subject.
Sometimes compromise is a necessary and even good thing. I compromised last year on both of the bills I had been working on . However, sometimes compromise is not. When one party is simply wrong, compromise is wrong also. It does not benefit the people we represent.
Representative John A. Kowalko Jr.