Gov. Deal will fund charters with new revenue or cuts to spending

The governor’s deputy chief of staff for policy says that his bailout of charter schools reflects his deep commitment to charters, and the money will come from either additional revenues that the state may generate or from cutting programs.

The money issues will be thrashed out in the amended budget, but the state will advance the funds for the seven schools to the Department of Education this summer, said Erin Hames.

Hames says her boss Nathan Deal felt he had no choice as these schools were facing either operating at half their budgeted amounts or closing their doors altogether. She said the schools had extended contracts and registered students and faced fixed costs that they had to pay to open their doors.

“This had to be a quick decision,” she said. “We had schools that were meeting tomorrow to decide whether they were going to close their doors.”

The state announced today that it plans to make up the difference in costs for the charter schools stranded by the state Supreme Court ruling that the state Charter Schools Commission was illegal. A rescue line has been thrown to Odyssey School, in Newnan, Atlanta Heights Charter in Atlanta, Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology in Statesboro, Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton, Coweta Charter Academy in Senoia, Fulton Leadership Academy in south Fulton County, Heritage Preparatory Academy in Atlanta and Pataula Charter Academy in Edison. (Not getting state funding are the two commission schools that already won local approval, Museum School of Avondale and Ivy Prep of Gwinnett.)

Hames stressed that the bailout was a short-term solution to an urgent situation. As to the issue of academic performance, Hames said she is aware that at least one of the schools performed worse than its district but said the governor gave all the existing schools the benefit of the doubt on performance.

“This is a short-term solution. We are only in favor of charter schools that result in better public schools,” she said. “We are very aware of the performance data but a school can’t turn things around overnight. They may have begun with kids that were already behind. They have only been open for a year. That is not saying that we will do this next year. But for now, this was the right thing to do. Moving forward, we will be looking closely at performance data.”

I pointed out to Hames that teachers are going to feel outrage that the state is willing to dig for as much as $10 million to bail out these charter schools while reneging on such commitments as bonuses for National Board Certified Teachers.

Deal was not the architect of that bonus plan or the retreat from it, Hames said. But he has made charter schools a priority of his administration and is willing to “put a stake in the ground” on their behalf.

The question that Deal could face from schools suffering deep cuts and teachers experiencing furloughs is  what he’s willing to stake in the ground on their behalf.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

63 comments Add your comment

MW of Atl

July 14th, 2011
5:51 pm

This was the right thing to do. Great move Governor Deal! These schools were put in a major bind at the last minute for the coming school year

Patricia

July 14th, 2011
6:01 pm

Most probably he will not make the decisions as to what to cut, just pass it on to the public schools across the state to make cuts in order to fund these schools. Most of us teach in rural school districts throughout this state that do not even have charter schools where our funding is already at a critical mass and excuses are made for the charter school that did not make the gains…give me a break!!

Just another taxpayer

July 14th, 2011
6:20 pm

Some questions:
So we are paying the full amount for these students to their local districts as well as millions for the charter schools? What happens next year? Where is the money coming from? Is there any evidence that these schools are better than the traditional public schools? If a kid or parent doesn”t follow the rules in these charters does the kid get kicked out to their local public schools? Would that be fair?

On the Way Out

July 14th, 2011
6:25 pm

@MW of Atl – Public schools across the state have been put in a “major bind” in mid-stream the past couple of years when funding has been cut after teacher contracts were signed. Austerity cuts to state QBE have been around for close to a decade with greater strains added to the local tax burden. Local systems have been forced to furlough teachers, shorten the school year, increase class size, reduce or eliminate after school and summer sessions, eliminate support staff and still maintain AYP goals or face being labeled a “needs improvement” school. I agree with Patricia….give me a break!

Below the City

July 14th, 2011
6:40 pm

Gov. Deal, could we have our 10 furlough days back this coming school year? Please? This will be our 3rd year of giving up 10 days pay. Can’t you find the money somewhere?

Middle Grades Math Teacher

July 14th, 2011
6:42 pm

@MW — I agree with “On the Way Out.” The public schools have been put in a bind for YEARS — are you willing to speak up on their behalf? Once again, public schools will be taking the brunt of this. Governor Deal showed before the election that he can’t handle his own finances. Now he’s passing it on to the entire state of Georgia! The Supreme Court spoke on this matter. That should have settled it. But who is going to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the public school students?

[...] UPDATE at 4:55. The governor’s office says now Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Erin Hames will call me about this. I will post her comments shortly after we talk.  (I wrote up a separate post on her comments. See them here.) [...]

Jamie Butler Fair Parent

July 14th, 2011
7:12 pm

The Good old boys are busy! Frame and get rid of Beverly Hall. Hire Sonny Perdue’s buddy Erroll Davis….Pay Mike Bowers to lie and di

South GA Retiree

July 14th, 2011
7:12 pm

When the politiicans wheel and deal, approve a Commission that the Supreme Court says (predictably) is unconstitutional, and then bail out these charter schools with millions of dollars of taxpayer money, public schools should be outraged! This is money that should go to help ease the suffering that the Republicans have already caused in public school systems across the state. If the Guv can whip out $10 million for seven charter schools, what about “digging” out the same per pupil amount for every public school in Georgia and adjust the mid-term allotments upward. What’s wrong with treating every public school the same as these seven special charter schools?

Jamie Butler Fair Parent

July 14th, 2011
7:13 pm

Discredit honorable people. Now give charter schools big dollars and enable public schools. Wow!

Jamie Butler Fair Parent

July 14th, 2011
7:16 pm

Mike Bowers and his team have been paid OVER 2 million dollars. That is why the report reads
Like a action packed mystery novel.

catlady

July 14th, 2011
7:25 pm

Funny how we can find the money for what Chip’s people want, but not for what the common folks need. Figures, huh?

catlady

July 14th, 2011
7:31 pm

2 years ago I lost $1200 from my legally signed contract. Last year it was over $4500. Next year, I am predicting closer to $6000. How much more can we starve “regular” public education and those who provide it?

catlady

July 14th, 2011
7:34 pm

Maybe we can raise the money for the charter schools by charging regular schools $1 per head as a “contribution”.

Incredulous

July 14th, 2011
7:38 pm

@Catlady. Just wait. Charter programs are to state coffers what overseas labor was to corporations. Just for fun, go back and review Ross Perot’s 92 platform.

catlady

July 14th, 2011
7:38 pm

Any money left over can go to tax breaks for private schools!

teacher&mom

July 14th, 2011
7:46 pm

I did not vote for Gov. Deal but I was hopeful that perhaps he would not join the Chip Rogers club. I was hopeful he would work with republicans like Brooks Coleman who tend to take a more moderate an fair approach concerning education.

Actions speak louder than words. His quick action to save the charter schools while asking public schools to absorb $60 million in austerity cuts speaks volumes.

36 years in education

July 14th, 2011
7:48 pm

Maybe he’ll cut the charter salaries like he did the Pre-K teachers…scam. Deal is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

Blawgdawg

July 14th, 2011
7:57 pm

Just wondering . . . has Governor Deal forgotten what happened to former Governor Barnes when public school teachers went to the ballot box in 2002? From the comments on this blog, teachers at traditional public schools equate additional state funding for charter schools with less money in their paychecks.

Annoyed Teacher and Mom

July 14th, 2011
8:08 pm

I am completely outraged by this nonsense. It is because of morons like this that cause our schools to be the way they are now. They constantly expect more, but give less. Parents blame teachers, when the finger should be pointing the other way. I hope you only wanted to be a one-term governor, because although you may not hear us, public school teachers have a very loud voice at the voter’s box.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 14th, 2011
8:22 pm

Suspect that the vast majority of charter-school supporters do so because of school climate and achievement, and not teacher, considerations.

Hope that pressure from charters will frighten educ-rats into helping our kids learn rather than scaring them into gorging themselves on more taxpayer cheese.

Rural education

July 14th, 2011
8:43 pm

How many districts won’t have furlough days next year? We will and I vividly remember the “no furloughs” rhetoric from the Gov. Our district saved the last of the stimulus money and we will still be cut. One full paycheck in three years.

Write Your Board Members

July 14th, 2011
9:04 pm

Deal needs to rethink this.

It is wrong and if one more cent is cut from education to fund this, parents of this state ought to rise up.

I support charters but this isn’t the right solution.

teacher&mom

July 14th, 2011
9:27 pm

@Rural education: Perhaps the AJC will investigate and make a list…county by county of the number of furlough days, 4 day school weeks, shortened school year, average class size per grade/subject, programs eliminated, etc. It would be interesting to see how the budget is impacting districts across the state.

Atlanta mom

July 14th, 2011
9:40 pm

What was it–two, three years ago–that the republicans passed legislation to give 50 million dollars to private schools via tax credits? What’s another 10 million more to charter schools? chip, chip chip away at public education.

Happy Taxpayer for a Day

July 14th, 2011
9:51 pm

As a taxpayer who does not have children either in the local public or charter schools (we gave up and went with private school many years ago), I will gladly pay my share of taxes to the local charter school. Why? Let’s see…. (1) it’s not controlled by a completely corrupt school board, (2) it is run by a professional who was chosen for her qualifications (whereas the neighborhood school principal was chosen for her relationship with a board member), (3) the school demands discipline of its students and involvement of its parents, (4) teachers are free to teach creatively as best to meet the needs of the students.

Isn’t that what all of our schools should be like?

Thank you Governor for trying to spend my money efficiently for once.

ANGELA

July 14th, 2011
9:53 pm

Will someone please answer for me why education and teachers are the least respected and must endure all of the cuts and the government officials don’t give up anything? Also, I am told that Deal has paid off much of his millions of dollars debt and only owes a mere million. Can someone please explain how is that so?

Mike

July 14th, 2011
10:44 pm

I smell Cagle’s hand in this one.

we r b ing n fected

July 14th, 2011
10:54 pm

Remember “No Child Left Behind” was based on a lie. Rod Paige, the former Sec. of Education under W. Bush from 2001-2005, was superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (HISD). Largely based on the success of the HISD, labeled the “Texas Miracle”, “No Child Left Behind” was drafted and voted into law.

Except the “Texas Miracle” was not true. Over 3,000 High School dropouts were labeled as “transfer students” instead of dropouts, dramatically lowering the dropout rate. Instead of changing answers like the Atlanta teachers, Houston’s principals made sure the lowest performing students did not take the standardized tests. I guess it is not surprising that legislation based on fraud is still creating fraud in our educational system.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/01/06/60II/main591676.shtml

No Commission Needed

July 14th, 2011
11:20 pm

Let your elected officials know how you feel about cutting local schools to give to the special schools.

Struggling Teacher

July 15th, 2011
12:30 am

This is wrong.

Big Mama

July 15th, 2011
1:00 am

It must be a blast to play Santa Claus and give big bags of tax-payer cash to the select few. Too bad it is the tax-payers and the public school students who will foot the bill!

amazed

July 15th, 2011
1:03 am

So obviously, noone on here cares at all about the stranded children. The parents may have been left with what they considered unacceptable public schools and too late to get into a private school or “eat cake” (sorry, the Cherokee board member said “to move”). Don’t know about these particular schools, but there are places where you can’t get into your neighborhood school if you sign up too late. You would be assigned somewhere else.

The state messed up. The state is coming up with a temporary fix so people don’t suffer for the state’s mistake. Yet they get raked over the coals for being responsible, something our governments have rarely been lately. Imagine that, someone actually taking responsibility and trying to fix their mistake. I sure haven’t seen that by any local public school boards. How many local school boards have eliminated administrators in order to cut furlough days or reduce class sizes?

So Maureen, none of your ample empathy for these parents and students like you had for the APS cheaters? Or are too many of them Republicans? Pure partisanship is what I’m reading from many of these posters.

I’m not sold that promoting charters is the way to go, but this was just the right thing to do.

kariqua

July 15th, 2011
1:12 am

End of the tunnel for some of you public school teachers.

GA parent/teacher

July 15th, 2011
4:31 am

Does this mean that the Governor can bypass the General Assembly and also fully fund the public schools, the technical colleges, and the University System of Georgia this next school year?

Just Saying It Like It Is

July 15th, 2011
5:50 am

This is being done on the backs of the public schools. Teachers will take another hit. More furlough days, etc. This is wrong. Money being taken from each child in public schools to give to the Charter schools. If parents want their child in a Charter school then let them pay for that privilege. Disgusting.

John Q Public

July 15th, 2011
7:16 am

People. Please know that Governor Deal is finding funding to make sure these charter schools are funded at the same levels as traditional public schools. If you want to complain that ALL public schools in Georgia are underfunded by the state, the knock yourself out. But don’t complain about Deal making sure these children are funded adequately.

Fled

July 15th, 2011
9:19 am

This really should come as no surprise. Deal is as crooked as they come, and Beverly Hall gave him the cover he needed to unleash his assault on public schools. Thanks a lot, Dr. Hall.

What surprises me is that the charter advocates seem to think that they are going to get a private school education for free. They also seem to think that they will be in control. They are going to have a really bad day when they realize that they were taken yet again. For-profit companies do not, I repeat do not, want to give your children a private school quality education, and they definitely do not, I repeat do not, want you to be in control. The only truly infinite force in the universe is republican stupidity.

I could prepare your children to do well in college. I have the experience, the temperament, and the knowledge to do so. Even in Georgia, my students were admitted to some of the finest universities and colleges in the nation. My students now are fully prepared for the next step in their educations. Guess what? I would never, ever teach another class in Georgia. All that you right-wing ideologues are accomplishing is making sure that none but those who literally have no other choice will work with your children. Hope you enjoy being stuck with demoralized, battered teachers.

Teachers, want to join a for-profit company and be an employee and be told what to do and how to do it—and on top of that you will get less pay and lose retirement benefits? Why not just get a job at Wal-Mart? After eight years of that doofus Purdue, Deal or No Deal has declared war on you, and you take it and take it and take it. Lenin said that to predict the future it is necessary to analyze the past, so what would you conclude about your futures based on the nine years of darkness since republicans took over?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

hope

July 15th, 2011
9:19 am

Yay! Finally a glimmer of hope for my rapidly declining Cherokee County property value!!! Face it…charter schools make a community more desirable (hello Decatur!). Even if admission is a 50/50 chance, some families are willing to take that chance. Furthermore, on the heels of this massive cheating scandal…funding these non-traditional schools was absolutely the right thing to do. I also own a home in Atlanta and personally I’m more upset about the 180+ teachers and educators on “administrative leave” during the APS cheating scandal investigation! Talk about a giant waste of taxpayer money. Anyways…thank you Governor Deal! Nice work.

Jovan Miles

July 15th, 2011
9:20 am

@ John Q Public….well said sir.

No Commission Needed

July 15th, 2011
9:58 am

Charter schools are being funded at the state levels; it is just these seven commission schools that continue to get back door funding. The charter in Mitchell County worked with the local school board to have a relationship, but the Patuala group laughed in the face of all the local school boards; never attempting to form any type of a relationship. Now, if reports are correct, seven commission schools ruled unconstitutional by the court will get 1.4 million dollars each. There is no elected school board oversight, only a bunch of unelected friends to account for the money. This entire commission program was poorly thought through by our elected officials. I support charters, if local officials elected by local people have control; not a bunch of people who think they deserve the money. It is time to stop throwing money at the problem of schools, and get involved with your local school.

catlady

July 15th, 2011
9:58 am

I agree that the AJC should put together a database listing the cost saving measures each system has made for the 2009-10, 10-11, and 11-12 school years. Include furlough days, changes in local supplement, loss of insurance, etc, for all employees. Then, perhaps, an average loss per teacher, administrator, janitor, etc. I know last year I “lost” over $4500, and that loss will affect my retirement pay.

Then, in light of that, tell us where the money will come from. Ms. Hames, tell us EXACTLY, TO THE PENNY.

I am increasingly in favor of charter schools, as long as not run by a for-profit company. IF THE PUBLIC in that area has the will to provide a self-run charter, more is the power. I don’t believe a cent of local money should go to a for-profit company. There is too much at stake to give away public dollars for profit. There is too much riding on it!

I think the money for these “stranded” charters should come from the legislators’ budgets (those who voted for the unconstitutional charter commission). Let’s say they get $20,000 for their budget for staff and travel. They can be required to “donate” 15,000 of it to the special one year subsidy for the stranded charters. That means, for a year, they would suffer the loss of those funds in order to make up for setting in place something that was clearly unconstitutional.

Sandor

July 15th, 2011
10:31 am

There wouldn’t be such a demand for Charter Schools if Public School teachers were held accountable for the product they produce and not shielded behind a wall of union mediocrity.

Only 65% of the 3rd graders passed the Science postion of the CRCT in the school we are districted to. Will I take advantage of every opportunity I can to guard my children from such failures? What kind of a parent would I be if I didn’t?

R. Katz

July 15th, 2011
10:38 am

Keeps up those that are teaching will leave for real money and those that are thinking about teaching, well will not bother to go into something that has a system that is outdated and broken.

GeeMac

July 15th, 2011
10:52 am

@Sandor: 3rd graders should not even be tested in science. They should, however, be tested in reading, language arts, and math computation. Check out the other thread about over-reliance on standardized tests. If 3rd graders (or other grades) cant read and compute at grade level, they will not do well in any subject.

John Q Public

July 15th, 2011
12:52 pm

No commission needed: you said you worked for President Reagan. So tell me, are you a confused conservative (charter schools have been a part of the conservative agenda for 20 years in Georgia and across the U.S.) or are you a bleeding hart liberal who supports the status quo in education? You wouldn’t happen to work for one of those underachieving school districts in Southeast Georgia? ;)

No Commission Needed

July 15th, 2011
2:23 pm

John Q

I said I served under, not worked for, and charter schools with oversight by the local elected school board is fine by me. This group used the back door and recruitment to get this special school in Edison so they would not have to pay tuition. Who I work for has nothing to do with this debate.

Young Lady

July 15th, 2011
2:52 pm

@If you want to complain that ALL public schools in Georgia are underfunded by the state, the knock yourself out

That reasoning fails because state schools are not solely funded by the state. They’re funded by a mix of state, local, and federal funds. The issue at hand is that by funding all these charter schools SOLELY out of the budget for the current fiscal year, which is by the way already set for all state agencies, you put the State DoE at risk of a budget shortfall they’re going to have to make up for through cuts to already deeply cut agencies.

Paddy O

July 15th, 2011
3:39 pm

looks like Deal is attempting to implement his personal fiscal policies & initiatives, which we all know brought him millions, on the charter school addiction.

upset parent and citizen

July 15th, 2011
5:25 pm

Deal is OBVIOULSY getting a cut from the “FOR PROFIT” charter schools. This is a slap in the face to the our children who are caught in the middle, hard working public school teachers who are losing pay, and to the citizens whose tax dollars are going in the pockets of Deal and these charter school executives. Cherokee County has one the best school systems in the nation. What does a “FOR PROFIT” charter school have to offer them?