D.C. charter schools face unfunded mandates

Deborah Simmons:

D.C. schools open their doors Monday morning for the start of a new year, and charter parents and advocates say a new problem is compounding an old one.
This school year, the D.C. Healthy Schools Act mandating new feeding and physical-education policies takes effect. But charter schools are scrambling to meet some requirements of the new law, which says schools must feed students locally produced fruits and vegetables and offer students overall healthier meals. The act also raises the bar on physical fitness.
“The majority of charter schools are going in commercial buildings,” said Robert Cane, executive director of the advocacy group Friends of Choice in Urban Schools. (FOCUS). “We support good food and exercise, but charter schools have scrambled to meet requirements.”
Charter and traditional schools often lack cafeterias, and most charters lack green space for children to play or hold gym classes. Many don’t have a swimming pool, gymnasium, football field, tennis court or a track course.