Budget worries for private and charter schools?

As I look through comments on yesterday’s post about furloughs, many teachers from private schools, charter schools and even home school parents wrote to say how lucky they feel.

They said they weren’t worried about losing pay or dealing with sharp budget cuts. But I have to wonder how true that is.

Charter schools are funded with the same tax dollars as traditional public schools. If state revenue is down, logic holds charter schools will see cuts as well. Unlike public school systems, few charters have reserves to tap into during hard times.

Private schools are funded primarily with tuition, fees and returns from investments. Studies have shown that enrollment doesn’t drop during recessions, but more families require financial assistance. That places more strain on private schools and could force cuts in some academic, athletic or extra-curricular areas.

I wonder if home school parents are seeing costs increase. After all, you still have to buy materials, software, textbooks and other tools to teach your kids.

Can we really assume public schools are alone in dealing with budget cuts? What kinds of problems should parents, students and teachers at private and charter schools expect this coming school year?

STORY HELP: Reporter Nancy Badertscher is looking to speak with private school parents who are using scholarships funded by the tax credit approved by the General Assembly in 2008. If you would like to participate in this story please contact Nancy at nbadertscher@ajc.com.

27 comments Add your comment

DeKalb Conservative

July 29th, 2009
10:39 am

The question becomes in the 2009-2010 school year will public school education become better or worse. Will violence in these schools become better or worse.

The 2010-2011 school year might be a good time to reconsider the family vacation and instead enroll children into charter or private schools (especially among the junior high and high school levels).


July 29th, 2009
11:06 am

Well, it seems like there is a consensus that 2009-10 school year in public schools will be worse than before – if that’s even possible, but that’s a separate issue. There will be more students coming from private schools because their parents can’t afford the tuition. I’m not sure if more parents decide to home school because they are laid off…


July 29th, 2009
11:09 am

No cost increase for homeschooling here. I spent the summer selling old curriculum and buying new for this year on ebay just like always.

high school teacher

July 29th, 2009
11:15 am

“The 2010-2011 school year might be a good time to reconsider the family vacation and instead enroll children into charter or private schools.”

Gees, how much money do you spend on family vacation?


July 29th, 2009
11:19 am

I am surprised we can still afford the tuition assistance to private schools for handicapped or any other student, given the state of the budget.


July 29th, 2009
11:24 am

My wife teaches in a private school. She taught in public schools for 11 years and has taught in the same private school for the past 21 years. Those teachers, like virtually all private and parochial school teachers, make significantly less than public school teachers and have larger classes. Those private schools have had the same budget woes as public schools. The teachers at my wife’s school are getting no pay raises this year and their classroom supply budgets were cut. She will spend even more than she normally would out of pocket on supplies. Her official pre-planning starts this week but she has already spent at least two weeks over the summer working in her classroom. No good teacher goes the whole summer without planning.

concerned teacher

July 29th, 2009
12:01 pm

My mentor from my student teaching days now teaches at a private school. I have no idea where John’s wife teaches, but my mentor’s classes are significantly smaller than public school classes. That might be one area that will be affected at private schools this year, though. Also, she noted more students needing scholarships and fewer students able to go on yearly out of town field trips. It doesn’t sound as drastic as what is going on in the public schools, but no one is immune to the effects of the economy.


July 29th, 2009
12:12 pm

One other question: since the money has dropped to support public education, is there also a comparable drop in the support given to private schools for the education of sp ed kids who apply for the “scholarship”? If public schools used to get 4700 to educate a child with a mild handicap, but with the governor’s austerity cuts, etc, now the schools get $4200, is the public-funded scholarhip decreasing as well?


July 29th, 2009
12:35 pm

Actually stating that charter schools don’t have reserves is incorrect. Perhaps this varies per state, but many charters are required through their charter agreement to budget for a certain percentage of reserves.
Charter schools would be affected by budget cuts that concern per pupil revenues, or other state and federal funding. Charters are usually not affected when it comes to declining bond/mill revenues since they usually were not recipients to begin with.


July 29th, 2009
1:15 pm

The special needs vouchers were cut in the midterm budget and again in the 2010 budget. They also get the same additional cut just made to QBE.

Walk in My Shoes

July 29th, 2009
5:46 pm

DeKalb Conservative is clueless. I am a conservative but also a pubic school teacher. I BEG folks like him to volunteer or sub for a week, grade endless papers, and call parents all evening to see if he would like to make a career change. Teachers aren’t in it for the money bud!


July 29th, 2009
9:59 pm

I know many private schools (good, respected ones) have had significant drops in enrollment. Several laid off teachers and eliminated classes.

SB 10 vouchers have been reduced with each budget reduction.

Private School Guy

July 29th, 2009
11:02 pm

As an educator with DeKalb County I am getting over $3000 of retirement benefits taken away instead of around $1000 less in pay for being furloughed. This seems like a raw deal to me as I need to bolster my retirement account and now the money has to come from my paycheck. It’s this type of monetary planning that got us into this mess to begin with. DeKalb schools are setting a bad example. On top of this I don’t get any time off for not being given the $3000. This is wrong.

old teach

July 30th, 2009
12:01 am

JOHN…It is quite true that private school teachers are paid less….in some cases much less than public school teachers. In addition, the benefits [ insurance, retirement, raises ] are often inferior. I just never understood why this doesn’t kill the argument that more money should be thrown at schools and teacher salaries in order to have improvement. Private schools do not have better quality teachers who make more money. They do, however, OVERALL,have better quality students because they are tested and interviewed before they are admitted.
That is not to say that both public and private school teachers deserve MUCH higher salaries. But that is NOT what is making many public schools the sadly lacking places they are today.

old teach

July 30th, 2009
12:04 am

OOPs. left out an important few words in my post above…I meant to say.”That is not to say that both public and private school teachers DON”T deserve MUCH higher salaries. They absolutely do !


July 30th, 2009
6:45 am

The whole world has changed. My husband and I made the heart-wrenching decision to pull two children out of an independent school for the upcoming school year. The need and merit based financial aid offered was not even close to the demonstrated need. Enrollment is down and these schools are hurting just like the rest of the country. Previously hefty endowments have dwindled. Teachers and staff are being cut. This is the real world. The public arena is now feeling the same pinch. Perhaps parents who left the public system and whose children will now re-enter will bring new accountability. Perhaps this will impact us all in a positive way. Something has to give.


July 30th, 2009
7:47 am

old teach, would you agree that in general, public teachers teacher deal with more ‘challenging’ students than private school teachers? Given private schools have the ability to expel students, they can maintain what they feel is a ‘teachable’ environment.


July 30th, 2009
8:54 am

You can’t choose your supervisor in employment, why would you choose a private school w/ a homogenous population? Kids are going to learn regardless as long as you provide the foundation at HOME and try to have them in upper level classes in school. Just say “NO” to Senator Eric Johnson for governor. He’s prominately known as the Voucher Man.


July 30th, 2009
8:54 am

Of course, mainly because parents in private school know how to raise and dscipline their kids better than the single or never married parent. There is more accountability for staff in private school. Alvin Wilbanks and staff would have been fired, for the antics they have pulled (crippling, threatening staff, denying benefits, hiring in friends/relatives 5000, 10,000 over what their experience demands). Discipline changes from school to school, sub. teachers are told not to discipline students when they push other students down, ‘it makes our school look bad’. Poorly run schools.


July 30th, 2009
8:56 am

I’ve dealt with many students from private and charter schools who lack the social skills and tolerance to deal with peers of different color, race and socioeconomic background.


July 30th, 2009
9:00 am

Here’s a novel idea…how about properly funding public schools adequately for once, get rid of these so called education consultants like Max Thompson, etc.? You get what you pay for. NY and New England public schools excel overall because they pay their teachers a decent wage. Treat people w/ respect and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it.


July 30th, 2009
9:02 am

InAtlanta, more accountability in private schools??? Have you been in any public schools lately?

lyric melody's mom

July 30th, 2009
4:07 pm

to INatlanta
wow what a statment”mainly because parents in private school know how to raise and dscipline their kids better than the single or never married parent.” well as a single mother of two girls have never gone to a public school i know children who have both parents who just give things but never show up a to a meeting or game. i have worked as a receptionist and drove in used cars so that my girls would have the education that was promised them. just like there are bad two parent homes there are good single parent homes.

Charter School Teacher

July 30th, 2009
11:33 pm

I teach at a Fulton County charter school, and we have been told by Fulton County that our teachers HAVE to take furlough days…….. I”m not sure that is legal when I do not work for Fulton County. I work for a private company that receives money from FCBOE. Yes, my administrators will be getting less funds- but that is for them to balance the budget by putting more kids in classrooms, cutting expenses, etc… I already get paid significantly less than Fulton County teachers, I already work longer hours (we are required to work 8-5 every day) and we usually work more days a year (we start pre-planning earlier than Fulton County and have more post-planning days.) When the governor declared a pay raise for teachers, we were not so lucky as to “participate,” so how is it that when he declares a pay decrease for teachers we “have” to participate??? It just doesn’t seem right.

Mom to 4

July 31st, 2009
1:32 pm

Our children attend private school. I assume there will be some cut-backs but I have not heard of anything very drastic. Last year our school had a drive to increase funding in the school’s scholarship program. Many of the parents participated and were able to raise quite a bit of money for this scholarship program. This money will be used for parents who are having trouble paying the tuition because of job loss or business losses.

As for a decline in enrollment, I met with the vp of our younger child’s school and he said they saw a surge in enrollment this year, especially in the middle school.

My husband and I have talked about the need to support the school this year because of the recession. We will give more more to fund the science and robotics programs this year. I am sure other parents will step up and give more to fund their (or their child’s) favorite activities and programs. This will probably make up the difference caused by the recession.

private school supporter

July 31st, 2009
5:45 pm

tc – your argument that students educated in private school are unable to fit in socially in the “real world” is old, tired, and completely untrue. It is also a handy excuse that public school parents use to make themselves feel better about driving fancy cars, taking expensive vacations, and wearing designer clothes rather than making sacrifices to send their children to better schools.


August 27th, 2009
3:01 am

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