Under new law, will state send more funds per child to state charter schools than local systems?

A rural school chief sent me this note late Friday:

I am forwarding to you an email from Herb Garrett at the Georgia School Superintendent’s Association that was sent out today to all Georgia superintendents. Herb explains the financial impact of laws already passed regarding charter schools and the differences in funding between those students and the ones attending traditional public schools. Herb clearly quotes GADOE as the source for the financial projections.

Can you find out if this information is accurate? I have the utmost trust and faith in Herb Garrett but I am astonished that our Governor and legislators would clearly gut public education in Georgia to this extent. As a small rural system, we are doing everything we can to stay afloat despite the continuing cuts. But, if the GADOE’s calculations are correct, the Legislature is obviously funding charter schools more favorably than traditional public schools. How can this happen?

Friday evening, I asked DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza to read Garrett’s letter and tell me whether he was correct that state charter schools — of which there will be a lot more if voters endorse a constitutional amendment on the November ballot — will earn more state funding under a law passed this year.

Cardoza promised to get with DOE experts over the weekend and get back to me. I received this response Saturday at noon: “I’ve confirmed that those numbers are correct. Our financial review team ran the numbers based on what the legislation says.”

I also asked DeKalb Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, for comment yesterday but he wanted to see what DOE had to say about Garrett’s calculations. He did say, “It was my understanding that the charter schools ended up with about 75 percent of what the traditional public schools received. I am opposed to the new charter systems receiving $100 per child. We can’t afford it and it is time to discontinue the practice.”

(Systems that convert to charter school status get extra funding for reasons still unclear to me.)

As to the rural school chief’s other question — How can this happen at a time when the state is cutting school funding to the bone? — I will let you all offer responses to that.

Given this funding disparity, though, it would make far more sense now for aspiring charter schools to seek state approval rather than local. However, the underlying problem remains that school funding in Georgia is a mess, rife with inconsistencies that the school finance task force, of which Millar is co-chair, must address.

Here is Herb Garrett’s email:

Ladies and gentlemen:

I will devote the entirety of this Friday’s notes (Sorry, it’s a lengthy one!) to an explanation of the funding mechanism that was put into place by the 2012 Georgia General Assembly to fund state special charter schools. The Department of Education has now made the calculations as to just what this will cost, and you should know the results.

First, you should know that, regardless of the outcome of the November vote, this funding mechanism enacted as a result of the passage of HB797 will still be used to determine how much extra state money will be needed to support state special charter schools, and it is already in effect. The original HB797 contemplated the use of this procedure for commission charter schools formed in the future if the proposed constitutional amendment on November’s ballot is approved by voters (HB797 was passed, by the way, with only one, single, “after-thought” opportunity for public comment.). A Senate amendment to the bill sponsored by Senator Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone,  was added (again, with no debate or discussion) which makes this funding procedure effective for the current state special charter schools (and, will require a significant outlay of additional state dollars in the upcoming mid-term budget). After Senate passage, the House agreed to the amended version.

I think the best way to make the point is to compare just how much state money our General Assembly plans to send to state special charter schools as compared to the amount they will send to local school systems to support the education of students in traditional K-12 schools. I’ll compare the amount for regular education fifth grade students. Here’s the scoop (based on DOE-calculated numbers):

For a fifth grader in a state special charter school, the initial amount granted is the full QBE earning for that child ($3,318.14) with no deduction for local five mill share. For a fifth grader in a traditional K-12 school, that amount, on average statewide (varies from system to system based on the value of the local five mill share within that system) is $2,695.71 (already a $600 difference).

That difference is further exacerbated by the austerity cuts that are applied to the earnings of local schools systems ($690.27 per student) but not applied to the earnings of state special charter schools. This latest reduction is mitigated somewhat for systems that receive equalization grants, but those grants do not come close to offsetting the austerity cuts in place for FY13 (or, in the eleven previous years).

Both the state special charter school students and the students in traditional K-12 schools earn state funds for transportation and for school nutrition (Both must offer these services to get the funds.), so let’s assume that both get the $95.85 total per student that comes with these two programs.

Now, at this point the fifth grader in a state special charter school begins to get even more state money than what is sent by the state for the fifth grader in a traditional K-12 school. The charter school student, as a result of the calculation mandated in HB797, gets additional state money equal to the average per pupil amount of the local funds available in the five poorest systems in the state (including the five mill share money already included once before in the first calculation, a clear “double dip”). That adds another $2,560.94 per student for the state special charter school student.

Then, and again as a result of the calculation mandated in HB797, still more state dollars are sent to support that fifth grader in a state special charter school based on capital outlay dollars. Amazingly, additional state funds are allotted based on the per pupil amount of state capital outlay funds PLUS a per pupil amount based on statewide ESPLOST revenues per FTE. This amount comes to $1,017.35 per student, and it is not at all clear that these funds have to be spent on capital projects, as would be the case in local systems.

So, if my calculations are correct (and, they are based on DOE numbers that were provided to me), the state will send approximately $2,101.29 in STATE DOLLARS to local school systems to support the education of a fifth grader in a traditional K-12 school. At the same time, beginning this Fall, they will send $6,992.28 in STATE DOLLARS per child to support the education of a fifth grader in a state special charter school. (NOTE: State special charter schools of the virtual variety receive 2/3 of the total of all components except the capital outlay and nutrition/transportation pieces, so the STATE DOLLARS going to support a fifth grader in that venue amount to $3,921.25.)

The figures are clear: The state will send to state special charter schools 2.5 times more STATE DOLLARS per child than they are sending to local systems (those that do not receive equalization grants); for students in state special virtual charter schools, it is 1.9 times more. By DOE’s calculations and according to the tenets of HB797, this will require that $26,839,637 in NEW STATE DOLLARS be included in the state budget (over and above the QBE earnings for charter school students AND over and above the $8.65 million already added to the budget to pay for state special charter schools) to fund the state special charter schools we already have. The figures are clear, but the message is even clearer: our General Assembly will gladly find and spend more money per child to educate students in state special charter schools than they will spend to educate the students in our traditional K-12 schools.

And, this message comes on a day when the headlines in the AJC announce that state agencies are being directed to find another $553 MILLION to cut between now and 2014!

One of the arguments all along has been that HB797 calls for no “local money” to be used to support state special charter schools, as was the case with the provisions of the former HB881 which created a shell game to capture the equivalent of local funds. Some have even gone so far as to describe the funding mechanism in HB797 as both “protection” and a “windfall” for local school systems. It is true that the old HB881 shell game is gone; but, the calculations described in the paragraphs above also prove quite clearly that, while local systems have suffered billions of dollars lost due to the now-infamous “austerity cuts,” there seems to be no hesitation on the part of our General Assembly to establish a separate school system which they will gladly fund through a state budget that, for more than ten years, has been unable to support its regular K-12 schools. Larger class sizes, teacher furloughs, and heavily- amended school calendars have been the result of those greatly reduced state dollars in recent years, and that trend appears likely to continue as a result of these kinds of funding decisions. I encourage you to know and be familiar with the fiscal impact of HB797.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

244 comments Add your comment

teacher&mom

August 4th, 2012
1:42 pm

Thank you for posting Mr. Garrett’s letter. I wonder if you can get a comment from Gov. Deal?

Gov. Deal told my local state representative that his “yes” vote would never negatively impact the funding in local systems. He assured him that HB797 would have no fiscal impact on local schools.

Bob Loblaw

August 4th, 2012
1:55 pm

Sounds like a lot of doubletalk!

DaPoet

August 4th, 2012
1:57 pm

The intent of conservative republicans has always been and will always be is to gut public education.

catlady

August 4th, 2012
2:08 pm

So, if I understand this right, if a system did not approve a charter school, but the special state committee did (back when it was operating), then the state still will pony up big money, perhaps 3 times what it puts into “regular” local schools. Those that local systems approved will continue to get state and local money, as their charter calls for. And, if the measure is passed in November, there is likely to be many more “special state charter schools” which will get this money as well.

I guess that will show us who is in charge here! And I am guessing state income taxes will go up to pay for this, while “regular” public schools continue to wither in the lack-of-funding financial drought.

Vote NO on November 6

August 4th, 2012
2:22 pm

The state has cut funding for public schools in Georgia by more than $4 billion in the last 4 years.

There is no magic money to fund these special state charter schools, so of course the money will come out of the same state education funds currently used to fund public schools. Local taxpayers and local property taxes will have to make up the difference to fund the existing public schools!

Voters will decide the fate of Georgia’s public schools on November 6. If you care about the public schools in your community and the children who attend them, the answer is simple. Vote NO.

kip

August 4th, 2012
2:27 pm

This should ensure they get the results they want. Create an uneven playing field, continue to criticize traditional public schools, then finally dismantle the entire system. I would be fine with it if the proponents were honest about their objectives. They see traditional public schools as a form of socialism. However, replacing a network of locally-controlled schools funded by taxpayer money with a system of state-controlled schools funded by taxpayer money is just more of the same.

Georgia and education not compatible

August 4th, 2012
2:32 pm

Can the local school systems pull together to sue the state for not adhering to, both, the state constitution and the QBE formula?

JustTheFactsPlease

August 4th, 2012
2:33 pm

Chip Rogers, a cheerleader for charter schools, sent his brother Jon to fill in for him at a local debate at Macedonia Elementary, sponsored by the PTA. While plugging for his brother on an issue of concern to public school parents, Jon stated that the charter school would actually be great for the public schools because it would mean public schools would receive more funding. The interesting thing is that Jon Rogers is the Communications Director for Race To The Top, the new PUBLIC education mandate approved in GA. So here you have someone appointed to speak about a public school program telling a big fat lie to concerned public school parents and voters. What’s he doing in a position representing a government funded program ONLY imposed on public schools, stumping for charter schools during a campaign debate??? It’s unethical and a conflict of interest, but hey, his brother got him the job so I guess we know where his mis-placed loyalties lie. Jon needs to find a new job, we need to stop the siphoning of funds from the public schools.

living in an outdated ed system

August 4th, 2012
2:35 pm

Oh, and should I also remind all of you how “outdated” our state constitution is? And I quote, yet again, “Georgia’s citizens shall have the right to an adequate education.” ADEQUATE! I would really stop referencing our constitution, people.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
2:37 pm

The law that will govern state charters if passed is very, very clear about what can and cannot be deducted from local systems. State charters CANNOT reduce district state funding that is otherwise due to them. HERE IS WHAT THE LAW SAYS VERBATIM:

“No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.” And keep in mind that local funds will ALSO be retained by local districts (who will be serving less kids).

I sure hope the public wakes up and realizes that the local school districts (and their cronies planted in key places by the Superintendent’s Assn. and Georgia School Boards Assn.) have every reason to fight this amendment. They will, at all costs (including, obviously, lie to the public) protect the status quo and the little fiefdoms they have created.

If we want public education to improve for our children and the teachers serving them, then we MUST have the political will to DEMAND that our local public servants be accountable to their constituency. We can’t sit back and allow lies to be perpetuated (such as what Herb has published) – it does a disservice to our children…

So please, check the facts your self and don’t believe everything you hear.

Here are links to HR 1162 re: the Constitutional Amendment and to HB 797:

http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/sum/hr1162.htm

http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/sum/hb797.htm

This amendment will clarify the state’s role and will provide a checks and balances for local school districts (where a natural conflict of interest exists since they are authorizing charter schools in their own districts). If districts play fair ball, why would they ever worry about an appeal? Think about that.

It always comes down to power and money with bureaucratic systems.

Tell the truth Herb

August 4th, 2012
2:40 pm

1. Why isn’t the Superitendent named?
2. What is the job of Herb Garrett … To protect school districts, not children!
3. The calculations above show that state charter school students will, under HB797, receive less in total dollars than any child in any district in the state. The state has allocated additional “STATE DOLLARS” not local dollars, to make sure the students are funded somewhat comparably to traditional public school students.
4. Herb seems to forget that parents are freely choosing to attend PUBLIC charter schools because they are, for some reason, not satisfied with what is being offered by the district. At what point will Herb start looking at what is best for children. Children are not, as he insinuates, simplly dollar figures in the giant district machine.

southside teacher

August 4th, 2012
2:57 pm

While the district schools’ funding is not supposed to be cut to fund charters, can anyone here see a way that will play out as promised? If austerity cuts and other reductions apply to disctricts but not to charters, that is the opposite of what we’ve been told. and of course there will be more cuts coming, in order to maintain the funding level required by this ill-conceived legislation.

Tony

August 4th, 2012
2:59 pm

There was no doubt from the outset that the governor and legislature wanted to create preferential funding for charter schools. Thanks go to Herb Garrett for sending out this notice with real and accurate numbers that tell the extent of that funding.

For the state to so blatantly thumb their nose at the existing public schools with these funding estimates is astonishing, though. They are adding insult to injury. For nearly 10 years our school budgets have endured so-called austerity cuts, and these cuts have completely eviscerated our schools’ abilities to meet students’ needs. We have cut teacher pay, the number of school days for students, programs for kids, and other essential services. To see they are willing to put 2.5 times the funding to go to charter schools speaks loud and clear about where they are placing their priorities.

Voters must realize this means their schools will continue to endure deep cuts to funding while the charter schools will get preferential treatment. For those of us in areas with good public schools, we will, in effect, lose funding so the state charter schools can get 2.5 times more per pupil! Prepare to vote no on November 6.

catlady

August 4th, 2012
3:01 pm

I’m wondering, Charterstarter2, if the way around the “no deduction” is that this “extra money” is not a deduction for the traditional public schools, but an ENHANCEMENT for the special charter schools.

The state used to participate in a program called Student Incentive Grants. This was a program targeting poor students in postsecondary education, in which the state provided a small amount and the federal government provided a much larger “match.” However, when HOPE got going, Georgia quit funding their small part of this, and thus lost the federal money. The fact that this money went to the poor and HOPE goes predominately to the middle and upper class students (because they make the grades in greater numbers) had NOTHING to do with it. Georgia has argued that it still is spending much money on financial aid–that the HOPE hasn’t “hurt” anyone. Uh huh. I mention this because it seems a similar idea–the state is still giving the traditional public schools their little bit; they are just “finding” additional monies to enhance the pot for the state special charter schools.

SusanL

August 4th, 2012
3:02 pm

Chip Rogers stated at one of his Town Hall Meetings: “There is only so much money in the pie . . .the state cannot print money.” If 1162 passes, there will still only be so much money in the pie, and the money for all of the “special” charter schools will have to come from the pie. No one really believes that it will come out of the transportation budget, do they? Not likely. Our state legislators will continue to chip away at public schools, and the children in the state of Georgia will be the losers.

catlady

August 4th, 2012
3:04 pm

Ms. Downey, couldn’t this be put on the front page of the online paper? I mean, it is pretty important!

Chunter

August 4th, 2012
3:07 pm

A couple of points:

1) This blog functions more as platform for airing the anti-reform, anti-parental choice views of the teachers’ unions—than it does as a legitimate debate forum.

2) Traditional public schools AREN’T meeting the expectations of vast segments of the public. You otherwise wouldn’t see growing pressure for reform.

3) Charter schools ARE public schools, and will continue to employ professional teachers. Yet so many critics of parental choice would have readers infer the opposite.

Tony

August 4th, 2012
3:12 pm

Charter Starter Too – your remarks are most disingenuous are reflect the extent to which the charter supporters are willing to lie and obfuscate the issues. It is clear that you and others like you will try to leverage the use of broad and meaningless remarks like “status quo” as code words that paint public school educators in a negative light.

Please explain why you think it is okay for the state to fund charter schools at 2.5 times the rate of local public schools? At a time when the state cannot fully fund the public schools according to already established law, it seems quite clear that there will, in fact, be preferred funding for charter schools. What makes a student in a charter school eligible for such a drastic increase in funding?

I agree with you on one point – I hope our voters are able to read through the lies and misrepresentations that will be used in the campaign regarding this amendment. They need to know that their tax dollars will be taken away from their local public schools and given to special charter schools at 2.5 times the rate.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
3:22 pm

A few things…

I’d like to clarify 2 points: I encourage you to check for yourself – I will never state anything here that you cannot verify for yourself.

Charters receive the same austerity cuts as traditional districts/schools receive. Go here and look at the allotment sheets: http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/qbe_reports.public_menu?p_fy=2000.

For example, Cherokee Charter Academy (a prior Commission school) receives austerity cuts this year in the amount of $479,787. The locally approved charters will have a proportionate share of austerity deducted from the funds their district sends.

So how will state charters be funded? Follow this, and I think you will see that there is NO WAY POSSIBLE they can be funded more than districts…

1. Regular QBE funds they earn based on FTE (same as district)
2. Categorical grant and facilities funds they earn based on FTE (same as district)
3. Federal funds they earn based on FTE and programmatic eligibility (same as district)
4. State supplement calculated as the average of the LOWEST 5 districts’ local FTE funding. (That means 99.97% of the districts’ local funding is HIGHER than the state charters’ supplement).

I am just asking you to use reasoning and to read what the law says. I think you will see that what is being claimed is impossible.

The districts have a dog in this fight and every reason in the world to spread inaccurate information. The charters would RATHER go through their local districts – there are more services and clearly, from above, more funds to support their programs.

I ask you again – if the districts fairly authorize charter schools, then an appeals body should only be a “checks and balances.” Why are they so afraid of an objective body appointed by publicly elected officials to check their work?

The only reason I would worry if I was them is if I was not doing what is right…

yuzeyurbrane

August 4th, 2012
3:25 pm

Maureen, thank you for continuing to shine the spotlight on the shameful actions you describe. Most legislators are too dumb to understand what is happening but their leaders, despite the statement of Sen. Millar, are quite smart and know exactly what they are doing.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
3:44 pm

@To all, DOE just sent this note, which echoes what Herb Garrett already sent out about his original number: The state will send to state special charter schools 2.5 times more state dollars per child than they are sending to local systems

From the DOE spokesman just now: When I asked our finance review folks if Herb’s email (numbers) were correct they said yes. They weren’t looking at the actual email. So, since Herb sent out this correction, please use this number. It’s still more funding at 2.5:1
.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
3:45 pm

Tony,

status quo (kwəʊ)

— n
the status quo the existing state of affairs

The districts like the “state of affairs” as they are…and yet, our children are failing and our teachers are unsupported and continually do not receive the resources needed to do their jobs. I don’t hammer public school educators – it’s not their fault. This “fight” I’m in is FOR them and the children they serve.

The whole concept of charters is to influence decision makers at the district office and on their boards to rethink how they do business – including supporting parents’ voice in education and governance at the school level, teacher autonomy in their own classrooms, and better fiscal stewardship. AND ACCOUNTABILITY. It drives me bananas to hear people fussing about money being “taken” away ….we are tossing good money after bad in many, many districts in our state. It is not for lack of money our children aren’t learning and our teachers can’t teach – it is for lack of WILL at the district level to spend prudently, to encourage innovation (that may not fit every school), and to honor the professionalism of our educators.

The state cuts have been painful, no doubt. But I double dog dare any one of you to dig into the district budgets, subtract out the state funds and see where the districts are spending their dollars…it’s not in the classrooms. Have you attended district board meetings to hear how decisions are made that impact our children and our teachers, principals, and support staff? District board members are paid for their service…superintendents are making a pretty penny ($200k – 400+). Charter board members volunteer – and that in a nutshell is the difference. Charters work in SERVICE to the communities they serve. They stay hungry because their doors staying open is directly linked to student achievement and fiscal stewardship. It’s a mindset.

Newton said that with inertia – anything at rest tends to stay at rest. Without a catalyst, nothing will change. Charters are providing a catalyst.

Ask hard questions (thank you Catlady!) Check your facts. I am not obfuscating anything, which is why I gave you the links. I don’t have to lie – the facts speak for themselves.

Tony

August 4th, 2012
3:49 pm

CharterStarter – what you fail to address is the simple question. Why should charter schools be funded at the higher rates than local schools? This question gets at the heart of the underlying preferential funding plan for state charter schools. Our public schools are not being funded adequately and there is no intention from our state leaders to do anything about that fact. The citizens who have quality public schools need to understand why money will not be provided to their kids’ schools, but state charter schools will be funded at much higher rates.

Dunwoody Mom

August 4th, 2012
3:50 pm

This surprises anyone? Really?

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
3:51 pm

Maureen, as I’ve said above and is referenced in 797, IF the DOE is calculating things correctly, then this is impossible.

Rather than just publish what they SAY, why not ask them to SHOW you their calculations of a state chartered special school beside their traditional district along with the source of their numbers. Go line item by line item what the charter vs. the traditional school district earns through all funding streams and then divide it out per pupil.

Happy St. Pat's

August 4th, 2012
3:51 pm

1. Don’t assume that any single legislator understood these numbers when writing / voting on the bill. Part of the merit of a transparent and open system is that your opponents quickly jump on your dumb mistakes and keep you from doing stupid things. Here in Georgia, by contrast, the secrecy and lack of opposition make it easy for gross errors to find their way into law. (Would the TSPLOST vote have been such a disaster if the process had really been open and responsive?)
2. Don’t assume that legislators are engaged enough to know just how disparate the public education financial situation really is. If there really is a problem, why, that would be their fault, wouldn’t it? So I imagine the rose-colored glasses industry does a lot of business at the Capitol.
3. Do state charter schools still need to first have their applications rejected by local systems? Hah! Can you imagine what applications to local boards will look like now? Please please please reject us, oh pretty please. Did we mention that we’re all registered sex offenders and / or foreigners? Being approved locally would be a financial disas

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
3:52 pm

@Charter, I think this is worth a long news story. But DOE did run the numbers by their finance folks, who said Herb’s calculations for what the schools will get is correct. You will see this topic revisited but I think is clearly noteworthy that DOE concedes these schools will now get more funding under the law — and DOE is well aware that such a conclusion is bound to rile both sides of the issue
Maureen

Happy St. Pat's

August 4th, 2012
3:57 pm

No cuts to local schools? Where does the new money come from? the state budget must be balanced by law. Tax increase, anyone? No? Well then, something else will have to be cut. Guess which something.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:03 pm

Tony, and what you fail to consider is:

1. The law PROHIBITS state chartered special schools from being funded above the district schools.

Charters don’t want to be funded higher – we’d settle for even close to parity. As I have said in prior posts, a Ball State University Study found charters to earn .74 for every dollar districts earn.

2. You assume that districts aren’t funded adequately, where in point of fact, districts earn anywhere from about 25% – 70% (give or take) in state funds, depending on the wealth of their district and local funds collected. For example, APS earns less than 25% from the state – most of their funds are local funds, so the austerity reductions at the state level mean a whole lot less than our little rural districts. So “adequacy” in state funds varies widely across the state. With or without the charters, we have a parity issue within public education. The charters suffer along with the rural districts when state cuts hit.

The REAL questions to ask are what is “adequate” to fund a quality education. I’d be careful how you answer since we have state charters living off $4500-$5500 per pupil (serving a comparable student population) knocking the socks off the MUCH higher funded districts ($10,000 – $13,000 per pupil).

The second REAL question to ask is if your district is spending the pot of money they DO have prudently. Again – go do some research.

Aside from my views on chartering, I think the state needs to deal with our QBE formula inequities and ensure that students in smaller districts/schools do not receive inadequate resources to support a quality education. So rural districts, we’re fighting the fight right along side you!

catlady

August 4th, 2012
4:05 pm

As I remember, the gov did say the money would be found somewhere to keep the state-approved charters running w/o local money. Guess this is it. Perhaps they DO have a way to print money, after all. And apparently there is a gap between what the state DOE understands and what CS2 understands–any explanation?

Could someone publish the names of those voting for HB797? We might want to get their explanations, after the governor’s.

Beverly Fraud

August 4th, 2012
4:10 pm

Cardoza promised to get with DOE experts over the weekend and get back to me.

Whatever happened to the seemingly VERY legitimate concerns that an English teacher expressed on this blog about the INSANE amount of time implementing new writing standards would require of teachers (by her calculations TWENTY EIGHT working days just do a single aspect of grading writing)

Matt the Mouth Organ was supposed to comment on that too. Accountability for teachers? Sure, fine. Accountability TO teachers to answer fair and legitimate questions. Apparently not so much for Matt the Mouth Organ and DOE.

catlady

August 4th, 2012
4:15 pm

CS2, Your point #1 above–if charter schools are getting just funding from the state, and for regular schools they get state+local monies, it would meet that criteria. That is, if state sends Special State Charter school $7000 per student and the regular school $4000 per student, but the regular school also gets local funds of 6000 per student, the special state charter schools would be getting less than the “regular” public school per student. And I am guessing any extra money via grants would not count “against” the SSCS as far as meeting this requirement.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:16 pm

Happy St. Pats – the charters DO have to go to districts first, and they MAY NOT change their applications… Go here and see page 14 which states that charters must submit an IDENTICAL petition to the state. http://archives.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/Charter%20Schools%20Petition%20Process%20Guidelines.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F655A02F38AF9C4E4CCBE9FC6FF1C3017D97AC46A9255A65B0&Type=D

Secondly, funds required to support state chartered special schools is 0.00044984% of the whole state budget. Really- 4 ten thousandths of a percent. The law prohibits funds from being deducted from the local districts, but yes…somewhere in the state budget 0.00044984% will have to be cut and invested in schools that ARE IMPROVING EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES. Seems like a good investment to me.

Beverly Fraud

August 4th, 2012
4:19 pm

Not to put too fine a point on it in regard to Mr. Garrett, but when one of your own is at THE very heart and soul of THE largest cheating scandal in United States educational history and your organization stands by and fiddles its thumbs perhaps you lose a bit of credibility when you claim to advocate “for the children.”

Then again, maybe I’m wrong and Garrett and company did indeed call for Hall’s resignation; is that not the LEAST of what they should have done, if they wanted to maintain a voice of moral authority on other educational issues, such as the one highlighted today?

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:22 pm

Catlady – you’re almost there…. so let’s take, for example, APS vs. a state chartered special school…

BOTH earn their QBE funding based on their student population.
BOTH earn the categorical and facilities funding based on FTE.
BOTH earn federal funds based on FTE and prog. eligibility.
APS earns in local funds 9,149.26 (here: http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.display_proc), while the charters will earn a state supplement (to address not earning local funds) equal to the AVERAGE of the lowest 5 districts (Pelham, Trion, Atkinson, Brantly, Jeff Davis counties), or about $1,100 per pupil.

Ed the Educator

August 4th, 2012
4:24 pm

Maureen, don’t your readers deserve to know the names of the rural superintendent and the DOE spokesperson? Is there any reason to shield their names from the public? I woul like to know because it provides legitimacy to one side or the other.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:24 pm

Beverly Fraud, I think I love you.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:28 pm

Maureen, I appreciate your reply… I am just wondering why you didn’t ask them for the substantiation before you published it as “fact.” That seems a bit unfair to both sides of the issue.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
4:30 pm

@Ed, The DOE spokesman is named in the post itself. I didn’t put his name in my comments on the blog simply to save time. And I have now received copies of Garrett’s letter from several folks. Not sure why that matters as they were simply passing information on to me that I then had to confirm with DOE. I did not post Garrett’s piece until DOE confirmed that accuracy of what he had written.
That to me is the news element here — the change to funding as a result of the new law. In view of the years of cuts to education in Georgia, there is nothing new about school chiefs lamenting spending. I get weekly emails from school chiefs about budget concerns.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
4:33 pm

@Charter, Not sure why you don’t think going to the state Department of Education — which allots state funds to the districts every year and has a division to do so — to ask about a funding change and then having DOE ask its own finance review folks to respond is not substantiation. Is it your contention that DOE’s finance folks are wrong and that their statement of confirmation is biased somehow and cannot be seen as “fact”?
The DOE also releases the test scores that you cited earlier for charter school performance.Do you accept those scores as “fact” when DOE releases them?
Maureen

Also, here is Garrett’s amendment to his original letter:

I wish to correct one piece of information about the funding of state special charter schools that I included in the version of Friday notes that I sent earlier today. In fact, it appears that the allotment sheets for state special charter schools DO, in fact, reflect a reduction based on austerity cuts. Thus, the paragraph in which I stated that those state special charter schools are not subject to the same austerity cuts as traditional K-12 schools was in error.
>
> As a result, the ratio of state funding for a fifth grader in a state special charter school to state funding for a fifth grader in a traditional K-12 school is 2.5:1 (rather than the 3.3:1 that I stated).
>
> I apologize for the error.

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:36 pm

Maureen, you might also consider where Herb’s original number came from….

The answer to that is the DOE (why don’t you ask Herb his source?) So basically, you asked the state if the number they originally produced is right. What do you think they will say?

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
4:41 pm

@Charter, I asked DOE to read Garrett’s piece and let me know if the data was correct and the conclusion was correct. DOE is the source of school funding data — that is used by all schools, including charters. I am still unsure of your point, that the DOE allotment sheets showing how much state money is going to schools are inaccurate?

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:46 pm

Yes, Maureen, that is absolutely unequivocally what I am saying. Mr. Garrett himself made a mistake…is it inconceivable to believe that folks sitting in a finance department can’t make an error?

The DOE is adding in funds the charters earn per FTE (like districts) and lumping that amount with the supplement which is solely to offer loss of local funding.

You can see how faulty their statement is when you take the per pupil (just a regular ed. kid) amount of funding comparison between a state charter and traditional district pupil. All of this being published is out of context. That is why I want someone to lay out the law and lay out their calculation and rationale so that you can SEE it makes not sense.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
4:52 pm

@Charter. Now, I am sending DOE your comment about the FTE and supplement. I will let you know what they say.
Maureen

CharterStarter, Too

August 4th, 2012
4:55 pm

Maureen,

The implication you (and Herb) are making is that traditional school students receive MORE funding to educate their kids. The only “more” is the average of the lowest 5 districts’ per pupil (about $1100 per pupil). That was very clear when the law was passed. The funds appropriated were made public….that’s all there is that can go to the charters.

When you take all funding streams per pupil and compare, side by side, the state chartered special schools and district schools, charter earn MUCH less per pupil (the disparity would be even greater without the supplement). Isn’t that what we are talking about? Adequate funds to serve our public school students?

I might add that equalization is no different – it provides a supplement for districts (almost always rural) who cannot raise adequate local funds. So in fact, districts earning equalization funding get “more” from the state than districts who do not earn it. When you look at the per pupil bottom line though, the rural districts are still funded less than urban schools. That is the same case for charters and traditional schools.

Brandy

August 4th, 2012
4:58 pm

Can someone enlighten me as to why we don’t get a vote on this?

This formula is wrong, no matter how you slice it, and most people (if they are capable of figuring out what it really means) would be up in arms. It seems to be an attempt (probably a futile one) to ensure that charters perform better than traditional public schools. What makes it worse is that Georgia schools are not even being funded at the state constitutionally mandated levels. Districts need to band together and sue to get the money they are legally supposed to have received…retroactively and with interest.

Again, I ask charter supporters to answer these questions:
1.) If charter schools are better because they are allowed to operate outside of certain rules, regulations, or red tape, why not simply remove those rules, regulations, and red tape from traditional public schools?
2.) Who is holding these schools accountable? For every successful charter, there are an equal (or higher) number of abject failures (for example, Imagine Mableton).
3.) Why do you feel it is fine and dandy to segregate schools…because that is what it is, though not necessarily along racial lines? Creating a special school for X group that excludes (either through application, lottery, or lack of transportation or Special Education services) A, B, & C students is a segregated school and that is wrong.

I understand wanting the best for your child(ren). I get wanting choices. But, really, you do have options–plenty of them: private school (there are scholarships), parochial school (again, scholarships), homeschooling, moving to a school zone or district that you find more palatable, or getting involved and making change from within.

yuzeyurbrane

August 4th, 2012
4:58 pm

CS2, based on your own words, it sounds to me that you should be writing to Senator Millar and demanding he cut the per pupil state funding of charter schools to the public school student funding level. Your argument about local tax funding of public schools needing to be offset by increased funding for state chartered schools seems to me to be an admission by you that there is a great disparity in state funding for traditional public schools. Local taxpayers elect their local board of education to decide how to spend their local funds on traditional public schools, not on state chartered schools. You, as I understand it, don’t want local boards of education to have any oversight over your state chartered school. Fine, but why do you then expect the state to fund you more than the public schools, especially in light of the draconian cuts which have been imposed on local public systems? You want special treatment and that is wrong.

Maureen Downey

August 4th, 2012
5:09 pm

@Charter, Matt Cardoza said he will have to set down with the finance review folks — http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Finance-and-Business-Operations/Pages/default.aspx — on Monday with Charterstarter’s comments. Will post DOE’s response.
M

Beverly Fraud

August 4th, 2012
5:13 pm

Before Herb Garrett takes another organization into account, perhaps he should take his OWN organization into account.

Herb Garrett, your organization named Beverly Hall the 2009 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. Knowing what you know now, have you RESCINDED the award?

And if not, where is your moral authority to comment on ANYTHING regarding the best interests of children in Georgia?

Beverly Fraud

August 4th, 2012
5:20 pm

> I apologize for the error.

Herb, you might be a bit more believable if you apologized for not RESCINDING Beverly Hall’s award.

If you can’t do that how can we trust your integrity? After all, by not rescinding the award, have you not given TACIT APPROVAL to cheating? (Heck even the Penn State folks had the decency to remove Joe Paterno’s statue since not unlike Hall he “knew or should have known” and he was around DECADES longer than Hall.)