The Juneau Community Charter School is part of the Juneau School District, open to any child via a yearly lottery. It probably gives the most bang per buck of any money spent on public education in Juneau.
The district spends an average of $7,300 per child at Juneau's other elementary schools as I understand it. That is $2,200 more per child than the amount spent by the district on each charter school child (an average of $5,100). That 43 percent difference is possible because of hard work by charter school families in filling many roles that are paid positions at other schools.
Despite costing the district dramatically less per child than the other elementary schools, the charter school has consistently had excellent academic success. For example, in 2003, 100 percent of its students met the Alaska Yearly Progress math requirements and 96 percent met the parallel language standards.
Our daughter has had a wonderful experience in her six years at the charter school, but this is her last year there, so our family has no personal interest in continued adequate funding. However, as a part of the larger Juneau community, we strongly encourage the district not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
We hope those making the local school funding decisions will keep in mind that, as the Lord of the Rings movies put it, this "quest hangs upon a knife's edge." Even small funding cuts may force the charter school to close.
Dollars allocated to the charter school go farther than dollars allocated elsewhere and the results are excellent. Surely this is something our town should nourish!
Larri Irene Spengler
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