R.I. charter school applications on the rise

PROVIDENCE –  Rhode Island received a record total of 15,430 applications for the 1,770 open seats that will be available for the 2017-18 school year, the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools said Wednesday.

The previous application record occurred last year with 14,628 applications. The increase of applicants is about 5.5 percent from last year.

It is worth noting that families may apply to more than one charter school. Of the 15,430 applications to Rhode Island’s charter public schools, there are only 8,651 students.

Still, according to the RILCS, charter schools account for 5 percent of student enrollment in the state.

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“These numbers demonstrate that Rhode Island families are demanding, more than ever before, quality public school choice options,” Timothy Groves, executive director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, said in a statement. “As a state, we must continue working to support great public schools, including traditional, charter and career and technical public schools. Our students thrive in an education system that embraces and supports different learning needs.”

According to the R.I. Department of Education website, charter schools differ from traditional public schools due to their independent boards maintaining academic autonomy, their accountability for student achievement – subject to revocation of charter- and that charter schools are expected to be leaders in improving and expanding opportunities as an alternative public education offering to residents of a community.

RILCS is a charter school advocacy group. The report is based on data from RIDE.

Chris Bergenheim is a PBN staff writer.