The Senate Human Resources and Education Committee voted unanimously to pass AB334, sponsored by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, which tightens several regulations regarding charter schools.While that is a noble sentiment on the part of Sen. Smith, I don't see why it is necessary to have the caps.
State and local school boards don't have the authority to even question the budgets of charter schools, said Smith. While charter schools need independence, state lawmakers have to establish some basic guidelines on what is allowable, she said.
Her bill would establish educational requirements for charter school administrators, and limit their salaries to the salary of the highest-paid administrator in the district, excluding superintendents.
Since school boards don't have much power over charter schools, the salary caps are a necessary safeguard, said Smith. As more charter schools pass students on to other institutions, or use online or distance education, the state has to be on guard, she added.
"I don't think there is a lot of abuse," said Smith. "But I don't want charter schools to get a bad name."
But the more troubling aspect is that this could be the first step to exerting control over charters, which by design operate outside the traditional school bureaucracy. If the school board gets budget review, then they will soon seek changes to the charter's budget and then you are essentially regulating the charter and the school loses the independence.
Charter schools are accountable to the people they serve and most charters I have seen operating publish their budget to the students and parents. That is how budgets and salaries don't get out of hand--information in the hands of consumers.