Dr. Rochelle Bates' Testimony

Missouri Charter Schools are funded at a lower rate per student than traditional public schools. This has resulted in an imbalance in funding for families that have chosen to educate their children in a charter school setting.

Charter Schools were created to provide families an opportunity to decide where they wanted their child or children to be educated. What families did not choose was a disparity in providing educational funding to address the academic needs of their children.

This pandemic has pushed communities to limits both, emotionally, financially, educationally and socially. School systems have had to pivot quickly from in-person learning to distant or remote learning. School budgets were stretched to adapt by purchasing hotspots for families that did not have internet accessibility to providing daily meals to the community. Many schools had to purchase additional Chromebooks or update existing devices. Purchasing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was necessary for students and staff in addition to specifically required cleaning solutions and additional maintenance staff for sanitizing.

The question many schools were asking is “Where is the money to purchase these things?” With Charter Public Schools receiving less funds to educate the same families as traditional public schools, the task to find money is more daunting.

Charter Public Schools and traditional public schools are located within the same community. Each serve the same students and have many of the same struggles in providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education for students needing assistance. Assistance in the form of social emotional learning to Advanced Placement Courses for students to gain college credit; all benefit our at-risk populations.

Charter and traditional public schools are the heart for families and students to receive socialization, advocacy and assistance with everyday life issues.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Confluence Academies for over 10 years, I have listened to parents who don’t know how to reach their child, who can’t self-regulate or control their emotions. The desperation and hopelessness they experience while seeking assistance at the one place that they feel can help—the local community school (Charter and Traditional Public Schools) is evident.

These are the times in which we live, and Charter Public Schools are a hub to their community just like traditional public schools. I know we can’t solve all the ills of society, but providing equitable funding is a start to address the educational environment.
In addition, afterschool programming is a vital part of addressing this need. Research studies have shown that Afterschool programs can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe, structured environment for students. Equitable funding can support this effort as many charter schools would like to expand daily instructional time for students.

As a result of this Glitch, Charter Public Schools are limited in their ability to hire and train teachers on how to cope with students that are experiencing community or personal trauma. Students experiencing trauma have an inability to regulate their emotions and will respond in an aggressive manner when asked to complete a simple command.

Teachers and staff are asking for assistance in how to reach and educate the students. Fixing the glitch will aid teachers with professional training.

Funding Charter Public Schools equitably as traditional Public Schools with the shortfall of $25 million dollars annually will allow Charter Public Schools to enhance their trauma informed training for teachers to learn how to address these issues that occur in the classroom and promote a safe and effective academic environment. Charter Public Schools will be able to address Compassion Fatigue experienced by teachers and staff who hear about or witness the intense suffering of trauma by their students.

Fix the Glitch will improve Charter Public Schools’ ability to provide a higher salary for experienced teachers and staff to work in an intense educational environment that will have the perseverance or grit needed to help our students excel during difficult times.

Lastly, Charter Public Schools’ families chose a different educational plan – not funding inequity – in the ability to education their children.

Fix the Glitch!