Providence to Bill Charters $800 Per Student for Sports, Gist Said Illegal in ‘09
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
However, a letter from former Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Superintendent Deborah Gist to Rhode Island Interscholastic League Director Thomas Mezzanotte in 2009 had deemed whether school fees could be charged in Rhode Island as "violating the fundamental principal of free education in Rhode Island."
"A school based education program of extracurricular activities is a required part of Rhode Island's Basic Education Plan. The BEP is meant to ensure that all Rhode Island students receive at least a quality education. Thus it is not legally permissible to charge fees for these education activties that the Board of Regents has found to be essential to the provision of a quality education," wrote Gist at the time.
The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools declined to respond to request for comment on the new PPSD mandate on Monday.
Letter -- and Explanation
The Providence School Department is implementing a "pay to play" cost share initiative for the 2015-2016 school year. This will apply to all students who participate in an athletic program within the Providence School Department.
The fee will be $802 per student, per sport, per season, for any Cooperative School, Charter School, or Non-Public School. The Finance Department will handle the accounting for PPSD Schools; all other Non-Public Schools or Charter Schools, which are participating in conjunction with the PPSD, will be invoiced accordingly. The sending schools will only be responsible for athletes who make the final roster or added to the roster at any time during the season; the $802 will not be prorated for athletes who do not make the full season.
After GoLocal first reported the story on Monday, PPSD sent out an after-hours press release at 5 PM on Monday with the following statement.
In Providence, athletics programs incur costs such as transportation, coaches’ salaries, referees, equipment, league fees, and more. Some Providence Schools and public charter schools do not field their own teams, and send their students to play in other schools’ athletic programs. Providence Schools is implementing a policy this year where it will invoice the sending school for the average cost (approximately $800 per student), per sport, per season so that receiving schools are not incurring all the costs of the program. No Providence public school students or families are being asked to incur any portion of these costs. We will work with our partners in the charter sector to ensure that this is implemented in a fair and equitable manner.
While the League declined to comment, Julie Nora, the head of International Charter School in Pawtucket -- whose students would not be impacted -- weighed in to say the following.
"I do not think it is fair," said Nora, the former President of the the League, of the PPSD decision.
Related Slideshow: 21 Priority Schools in RI
Priority Schools have the lowest Composite Index Scores in the state. Schools previously identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving are also Priority Schools.
On identification as a Priority School, the school and RIDE begin a three- to five-year intervention process
Diagnosis and planning: The school will undergo a diagnostic screening and develop a plan for improvement that includes a comprehensive package of interventions, including at least nine strategies that respond to the diagnosis findings and are subject to the Commissioner’s approval; the district may also opt to close the school or to reopen the school under new education management.
Implementation and monitoring: The district and school will put the improvement plan into action. District leadership will oversee this process, through quarterly performance reviews with RIDE.
School performance is measured by Proficiency, Distinction, Participation, Gap-Closing, Progress, Growth (K-8), Improvement (High Schools), and Graduation Rate (high schools).
The 21 Priority schools are below, with the scoring data used by RIDE included.
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