Austin offered two recommendations to improve the proposals. First, the state should create incentives for full-service local schools if funding becomes tied to students instead of districts. Second, the state needs to create quality controls for non-traditional forms of education if their unlimited expansion is allowed.
Marcia Curran, a member of the League of Women Voters, also worried about a lack of quality and accountability at non-traditional schools.
“These private companies that are for-profit and running charter schools, they don’t really have to tell you how they spend taxpayer money,” Curran said.
Other panelists and community members feared the proposed changes detract from the sense of community associated with local districts.
Dave Johnson, a retired teacher who lives in Honor, said school districts are the center of many communities, especially in rural areas.
The Benzie forum is an example of how people play a direct role in their communities through schools, he said.
“(The forum), to me, shouted responsibility, and community and a love of schools,” he said. “I don’t want to see that lost.”