Update: Charter school advocates double down on lobbying spending

Buses line the street outside the state Capitol will charter advocates rallied.

Buses line a street outside the state Capitol where charter school advocates rallied.

The cost to bus charter school students and advocates to rallies: $87,870.

The cost of providing them food from Subway: $14,040.

The cost of launching a media blitz including a new wave of television advertisements after state legislators failed to recommend funding new charter schools: $300,429.

The impact on students “trapped in failing schools” if this campaign drives funding to greatly expand charter school enrollment: Priceless, says Families for Excellent Schools, the nonprofit organization behind the effort.

According to spending reports filed with the Office of State Ethics Monday, the organization spent $413,000 in April — more than double what the organization spent during the first three months of the legislative session. This brings the organization’s spending to $667,000 so far this year. Add in what other groups advocating for charter schools are spending, and the total nears $1 million.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has recommended the state provide the funding to open a new charter school in Bridgeport and another Stamford next year and expand enrollment in existing charter schools. The budget proposed by the legislature’s Appropriations Committee does not fund the new charter schools and provides a fraction of the funding the governor recommended to expand enrollment in existing schools.

The amount of spending by charter advocates has agitated some state legislators. (Read about that here.)

“Where’s the money coming from? It causes concern.” Sen. Beth Bye, the senate leader of the Appropriations Committee, said last week.

But the organization says the spending is necessary.

“Often times, it’s the families in cities with struggling schools whose voices are excluded in a public debate. The [organization] has made it a point to elevate those voices,” said Kara Neidhardt, state director for Families for Excellent Schools.