Governor’s office enters charter school funding fray

Last week, I shared a letter from the Georgia School Superintendents Association about the state funding of charter schools. I now have a response to that letter from David Werner, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and external affairs.

One of the problems with discussing charter schools in Georgia is that funding varies by whether the school is locally approved– in which it then gets local and state dollars — or if it is a charter approved by the state over the objections of the locals — which represents only a handful of schools at this point and which means it only gets state funding. The state has increased its contributions to such schools to compensate for the absence of local tax dollars, which are now the main source of school funding in Georgia due to deep cuts at the state level.

Also, online charter schools get less funding. (This is one of the selling points of online schools everywhere, whether k-12 or college. Because of their scale and their lack of facilities, online schools are supposed to cost a lot less to operate than their brick and mortar counterparts. )

Here is how Werner explains it:

From David Werner:

As some of you know, I recently changed roles in the Governor’s Office and am now the Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and External Affairs. This position was most recently held by Michael Shaffer, who left our office earlier this year for (what is now) Georgia Regents University. I’ve enjoyed working with many of you as I have served as Governor Deal’s Deputy Executive Counsel and as Public Safety Policy Adviser. Michael certainly set a high bar, but I am very excited about the opportunity and look forward to working with all of you.

As various issues arise, Erin Hames and I will do all that we can to ensure that you have the facts you need to inform and respond to local constituents on important issues facing the state. As you know, the November general election ballot will have a constitutional amendment regarding the state’s ability to create a Charter School Commission to serve as an alternate authorizer when local school boards deny charter applications. Campaigns on both sides of the issue are ramping up, and our office wants to make certain that you have accurate information regarding the amendment and the charter school funding formula approved last session.

Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, School Superintendent Barge and the bipartisan coalition of Senate and House members that supported HR 1162 and HB 797 have shown strong support for creating additional high-performing charter schools throughout Georgia. These institutions promote competition, innovation and creativity while encouraging strong parental involvement. The Governor believes we must empower parents with public school options and true local flexibility if we want to improve student achievement.

Due to recent misinformation sent to local school superintendents, you may receive some questions from your local school system leaders and other constituents. This letter is intended to present the facts – we have worked closely with OPB and DOE so that everyone is working from the same set of figures. Please feel free to contact us if you need any additional information as we are more than happy to help you as you respond to local constituents.

First, state special charter schools have received their share of austerity reductions. They have and will receive any reductions made to the K-12 funding formula just like any other public school.

Second, information sent to local school superintendents claimed that charter schools receive more funding than traditional public schools. As you all know, no local tax money flows to state special charter schools. Local school superintendents and board members were adamantly opposed to any local dollars going to charter schools that were denied by a local school board and, after extensive debate, the final version of HB 797 was negotiated to ensure that this was the case. The additional state dollars included in the HB 797 funding formula are intended to partially offset the loss of local dollars when a charter application is denied by a local school board.

To put this in context, the funding formula results in an average $5,546 per student amount for state special charters, while the state-local average for traditional schools is $8,993. These numbers are preliminary averages and actual figures will vary slightly by district and may change somewhat as a result of the midterm adjustment. However, the fact remains that these schools operate without local dollars so while their state funds appear higher they will receive only 62 percent of the total amount spent in traditional public schools.

Additionally, while revenues are beginning to show signs of life, we remain in a budget-cutting mindset because of the growing needs in education, public safety, health care and other priorities. The cuts that Governor Deal has asked agencies to begin planning for do not call for additional reductions in the K-12 funding formula.

Our hope is that the numbers below will serve as the basis for discussion and debate moving forward.

There are four components of the new funding formula for state charter schools under HB 797, which was passed during the 2012 General Assembly. All funding for state charter schools comes from the state, and allocation for each student in a state charter school is determined by adding these four components.

1) QBE formula earnings based on the school’s enrollment, school profile and student characteristics (prior to the passage of HB 797, these are the only funds state charter schools would have been eligible to receive)

2) A proportional share of the earned state categorical grants (transportation, school nutrition, etc. excluding equalization)

3) The average amount of the total revenues less federal revenues less state revenues other than equalization grants per student for the five school districts with the lowest tax digests (local five mill share will be deducted for state charter schools)

4) The state-wide average total capital revenue per student (determined by a formula that looks at the total collection from E-SPLOST statewide plus the total state allocation for capital outlay to local school districts divided by the total number of students statewide)

Charter Funding Comparison

All State Charter Schools

K-12 District Average

State Charters

Charter vs K-12 District

State Revenue

$4,290

$5,230

Local Revenue

$3,686

$0

Capital

$1,017

$316

GRAND TOTAL

$8,993

$5,546

61.7%

Brick  & Mortar

K-12 District Average

State Charters

Charter vs K-12 District

State Revenue

$4,290

$6,392

Local Revenue

$3,686

$0

Capital

$1,017

$1,017

TOTAL BRICK & MORTAR

$8,993

$7,409

82.4%

Virtual

K-12 District Average

State Charters

Charter vs K-12 District

State Revenue

$4,290

$4,706

Local Revenue

$3,686

$0

Capital

$1,017

$0

TOTAL VIRTUAL

$8,993

$4,706

52.3%

The result is clear: on average public charter schools will receive 62 percent of the average per student expenditure in traditional schools. Even when virtual students are removed from the equation, charters with physical locations (sometimes called “brick and mortar” charters) will operate on 82 percent of the K-12 statewide average.

Some will want to twist and turn these numbers in order to fit their narrative, but we want to reassure you that the Governor’s Office has gone through a rigorous process with DOE and OPB to ensure these numbers are correct. Further, it is our intent that by providing these numbers, we can begin to have the much more important discussion about how we as a state can move forward in providing an excellent education for our children.

Thank you.

David Werner

Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and External Affairs

47 comments Add your comment

Cellophane

August 14th, 2012
8:53 am

Charter schools may get less money, but most of them provide fewer services. Since transportation was rolled into QBE, do charter schools who do not provide transportation just get to keep the money, or do they have to provide the service to get the funds? For a charter school that staffs its clinic with parent volunteers, rather than a hired nurse, do they just get to keep those funds? As charter schools have been shown again and again to enroll fewer special needs students, their costs in this area are significantly less.

jd

August 14th, 2012
8:54 am

The numbers speak for themselves. Charter school students get more state support than public students. (Equal Protection?).

And, even though legislators argued that virtual schools are cheaper, the mega corporations that own the virtual correspondence courses will get paid per student than the local k12 (so, if I converted all of cobb county to virtual classes – it will cost more, not less???). Btw, the virtual costs fail to include capital (for the rooms housing the computers, the costs of telecom lines, and the computers, and the teachers that will tutor the students when online cannot help them help themselves). And telecom companies are going to charge you by the byte — meaning the cost of virtual will increase significantly.

There is only so much state tax money budgeted for K12. This means that charter schools in Atlanta will be taking money from rural public K12 schools. It also means the state taxpayer is paying a larger percentage of the cost of educating a charter school student than a public school student. So, how are we gonna pay for all this?

jd

August 14th, 2012
8:54 am

I guess we’ll be seeing more documented immigrants teaching our kids at lower rates (see North Fulton Charter), heh?

Pete

August 14th, 2012
9:03 am

The GOP will not rest until they have gutted public education.

Involved Parent

August 14th, 2012
9:21 am

Why not just give each parent the “average” amount Georgia spends per student and let concerned parents use that money for the school of their choice? Georgia ranks 8th in the nation on per student spending, yet we still score in the bottom tenth percentile on most rankings. More spending does not produce better students, so why not do something different? Charter schools can be better than some public schools, but they are still state-run. It’s YOUR money being spent on YOUR children, so why not give you a choice. Why do so many people (parents) want to keep a system that is currently not working? Let’s keep an eye on Louisiana and Governor Bobby Jindal. Watch the movie “Waiting for Superman.”

rb

August 14th, 2012
9:25 am

Who pays the state taxes? Would it be local taxpayers?

Dr. Monica Henson

August 14th, 2012
10:11 am

jd posted, “And, even though legislators argued that virtual schools are cheaper, the mega corporations that own the virtual correspondence courses will get paid per student than the local k12 (so, if I converted all of cobb county to virtual classes – it will cost more, not less???). Btw, the virtual costs fail to include capital (for the rooms housing the computers, the costs of telecom lines, and the computers, and the teachers that will tutor the students when online cannot help them help themselves). And telecom companies are going to charge you by the byte — meaning the cost of virtual will increase significantly.”

While I cannot speak for the other virtual charters in Georgia, which are partnered with Pearson and K12, Inc., this description is not accurate in the least for Provost Academy Georgia, partnered with EdisonLearning. Our nonprofit board of directors has contracted with EL for a set annual fee that covers the learning management system, all of the online courses, tutoring (EdisonLearning tutoring staff, not part of our teacher corps), online textbooks that are built into every course, and capital costs associated with virtual services as well as the brick and mortar headquarters.

Incidentally, the annual fee covers many, many other services that in a traditional school district would be provided by several central office staff members, allowing us to benefit from an economy of scale and NOT have the “bloated” central office decried by so many posters on this blog.

We pay our Georgia-certificated teachers competitive salaries and provide them with benefits beyond what they would get in a metro ATL school district. We have a full-service special education department and do not turn any families away. Our Title I dollars pay for laptops and internet subsidies for families who meet income qualifications and need assistance to provide virtual learning equipment for their children.

In a nutshell, we are going to educate our students far less expensively than a traditional district would–with excellent teachers available for ALL of the students (not just the honors & AP tracks). We are already proving that we can do it CHEAPER–whether we can do it BETTER will be determined as annual measurable objectives are set by GaDOE and we have the opportunity for our kids to demonstrate their skills. Stay tuned!

Beverly Hall

August 14th, 2012
10:12 am

Involved Parent (@ 9:21) is correct.

He must be silenced so that the City of Atlanta, DeKalb County and Clayton County BOEs can continue to do the outstanding job they’ve always done.

living in an outdated ed system

August 14th, 2012
10:12 am

Interesting that you waited for this letter to come out, rather than publish the rebuttal to the GSSA letter that was authored by the GA Charter School Association. We demand fairness an balance in reporting of Georgia education issues.

So the message is clear here. Public schools should stop complaining about losing funding and start innovating….something they should have done decades ago!

More public options is good for Georgia and good for our children, especially in communities like Atlanta where schools are failing (e.g., graduation near 50%). Know any that resemble that? I can rack of dozens.

Hey Teacher

August 14th, 2012
10:25 am

Involved parent — where do you get your statistics? “Georgia ranks 8th in the nation on per student spending, yet we still score in the bottom tenth percentile on most rankings.”

Bernie

August 14th, 2012
10:32 am

Thank-you Mr. Werner for painting a clearer picture for the citizens of Georgia in regards to this matter. Now that you have, the most glaring aspect that jumps out at me and other concerned citizens about this particular unproven and untested plan.

First of all, does not this entire concept goes against the Governor’s and the Republican Party’s dogged adherence to a rigid ideology of less Government , local control of school education management and direction ? For years the citizens of Georgia and the nation have endured this unwavering mantra as the centerpiece of The Republican Party’s education stance from every level of governance.

When thinking of other ideas, proposals, funding passed via Federal Legislation. Governor Deal and other Republican Governor’s have either denied participation or passed on specific funding that goes against this same ideology. Now to actively to
jump into the public education arena and to seize control,establish,fund, build and direct proposed Charter schools during a time when serious budget constraints are at hand, how is this different from establishing the same principles of the President’s constitutionally approved Affordable Healthcare Plan?

Secondly, You did not provide any information on what criteria and formula that will be used in choosing the students who will attend these State funded Charter Schools. As you are well aware, The State of Georgia has a less than acceptable honorable record, when it comes to its position of education fairness to the racial equality of ALL of Georgia’s students. May I point out for you Sir, the most recent example of that concern. The changes in allowance of College level remedial courses in Georgia. Most education experts in Georgia and across the Nation are clearly aware of the fact that the majority of minority students share in a disproportionately higher number of students entering Colleges and Universities around the nation, approximately 85% or better.

Yet as documented by Ms.Dowd, in her reporting, just last week. The State Of Georgia has purposely moved forward with eliminating and or significantly reducing this option. Particularly, for those students who have been admitted to State funded colleges and universities are unprepared and who come from well known and documented failing schools and school systems. The offering and optional choice of attending those remedial courses has been a overwhelming and proven successful way for years. This option has been one of the most viable avenues for many of those students to continue on through the college and university system successfully and achieve the much sought after American Dream.

With that in mind, this proposed plan does NOT inspire confidence or believable reliance that the Governor nor the State Legislature is one to be trusted in implementing a Fair and Equal educational plan in the treatment for ALL of Georgia’s students.

Amazed

August 14th, 2012
10:35 am

More political arithmatic to create a state controlled school system. You are funding two systems. How does that fly with the smaller government ideology? The political leaders missed this one badly. Or maybe the education mamagement organizations contributed to the “right” politicians re-election campaign?

Cheryl

August 14th, 2012
10:45 am

Maureen Downey, I do not understand how you can publish: “local tax dollars, which are now the main source of school funding in Georgia due to deep cuts at the state level” when that is not the case now nor would it become the case if the charter school amendment is passed. What is your source for this statement?

jd

August 14th, 2012
10:56 am

I’m with Superintendent Barge… until the legislature funds K12 as the Constitution demands, then no more experimenting. Heck, if the concept would pass an honest Zero Based Budgeting analysis — I’d be all for it.

My child was late for school because Cobb county can’t keep bus drivers and he was late (1 hour) coming home…. Meanwhile, local superintendents are getting blamed for changing bus routes (not picking up within a one mile circle) which is a state regulation designed to cut costs…

When will we hold the legislators accountable?

Ron F.

August 14th, 2012
11:03 am

Involved Parent: They support the system because in most places it is working to the satisfaction of the parents. We hyperfocus on Dekalb and APS as if the whole state were in such a mess. Those two systems need choices- either charters or a complete gutting of the administrative system currently in place. While overall state score averages aren’t much to brag about, when you look at individual schools, you find that many are doing quite well, and the parents like them.

Oh, and btw, it’s not “your money” exactly. You pay a school tax only if you own property. Yes you pay other taxes which go into the general budget at the local and state level, but you have to remember that the state is only paying about 38% of the current cost of education per child. The remaining 62% is paid locally through school tax as part of property taxes (I think most counties list a breakdown so you can see where your dollars go). That being said, “your” money, which in all fairness is what you paid into the system, is the amount of school tax you paid. Surely you can’t suggest that it would be fair for everyone, including those who own no property and pay no property taxes, to get an equal amount of the money to call “MINE”. If so, then even those parents receiving welfare or other forms of government assistance would be eligible for the same amount as people working as hard as I’m sure you do.

catlady

August 14th, 2012
11:06 am

So a child in a special state charter school is “worth more” than a child in traditional public school, as far as the state (taxpayers’) money goes?? And we are in the midst of yet another year of budget reductions at the state level???

If I am a taxpayer (and we all are), I sure am mad that, as far as state monies go, kids in the traditional public schools continue to be starved by the state, yet there is extra money at the state level for the special state charter schools!

(And, yes, I understand about the local money. However, look where this is headed!

LD

August 14th, 2012
11:12 am

I am frustrated with the continuing idea that students in a state school should receive a greater percentage of the state educational funding “pie” than every other Georgia student (including students in local charters). The students in a state charter have chosen to attend a state school, not a local school; they (and their schools) need to accept the consequences of their decision. I have to wonder if this “special” funding formula isn’t opening Georgia up to a challenge under Brown versus the Board of Ed. Isn’t Georgia recreating a “separate but not equal” situation?

catlady

August 14th, 2012
11:13 am

Ron F: Everyone who is alive, except the homeless and those who live in monosteries, pay property taxes! Please don’t continue that claim. Good grief!

Beverly Fraud

August 14th, 2012
11:15 am

Seems there is one thing that many of the shills on both sides of this debate have in common:

LACK of integrity

“Last week, I shared a letter from the Georgia School Superintendents Association”

Well there’s a group that reeks of honor and integrity…NOT. You name Beverly Hall Superintendent of the Year; now you KNOW FOR A FACT it was based on cheating, and you don’t have the integrity to rescind the award?

But who is on the other side of this debate? The guy who left Congress under a cloud of suspicion, yet somehow managed to get himself elected governor.

“The Governor believes we must empower parents with public school options and true local flexibility if we want to improve student achievement”

Great. Now how about, at the SAME time, empower TEACHERS to hold students accountable for behavior and academics in the regular public schools?

Or might that actually IMPROVE the public schools to the point where it interferes with your agenda?

Three words driving this controversy: LACK of INTEGRITY

CharterStarter

August 14th, 2012
11:15 am

Dear friends, please remember – it’s about the children. If parents are demanding options (and make no mistake, from the slums of Atlanta to the fields of Americus, they most certainly are), our elected leaders on every level must respond. And defending the status quo like there’s no tomorrow is not a response that parents (ie, the voters) will accept. Kudos to Governor Deal, his staff, and local and state leaders who are willing to have an adult conversation about how best to move forward – and even more than that, who are determined to give parents options despite the gale force winds of resistance from those who keep forgetting it’s about the kids.

CharterStarter

August 14th, 2012
11:19 am

JD, the pie is not limitless, to be sure, but traditional public schools are not getting less because charters are getting more. Also read the Governor’s table carefully – charters are not getting more overall. Despite the attempt by the state to provide some relief, they still make do with nearly 40% less funding overall. I am proud of the charter leaders who make a go of it with less funding. They are charting a path for all of us to a new frontier.

Beverly Fraud

August 14th, 2012
11:23 am

“Kudos to Governor Deal, his staff, and local and state leaders who are willing to have an adult conversation about how best to move forward”

I might give him a bit more kudos if he, the guy who leads the “personal responsibility” and “rule of law” political party here in Georgia was willing to have an ADULT conversation about how he could help empower regular schools by empowering teachers to hold students responsible for behavior and academics. That would be true to his party’s philosophy if it were REALLY about helping students.

But then again, we can’t improve public school TOO much can we? Even though THAT would be a real choice: an effective charter school AND an effective regular school.

Three words drive this debate: LACK of INTEGRITY

Ron F.

August 14th, 2012
11:27 am

catlady: How so? If you rent, you don’t own the property, so who gets credit for paying the taxes? You could pay your rent on time and still get kicked out if the owner doesn’t pay the mortgage or taxes. I only bring that up because I get tired of the “it’s my money” argument, which is always used by folks who want to have all the benefits of the state they deem important AND the money to help pay for their private school. They generally could care less what happens to the rest of the kids, and they’re chomping at the bit to be like Louisiana. Knee jerk reaction? Yes, but I’m tired of hearing “it’s my money and I should get to spend it where I want.” Our society as a whole is built upon the belief that we should “promote the general welfare”, but when we start accepting the notion of “my money” in taxation, then pretty soon we’re passing out vouchers, which everyone knows benefit the rich much more than the poor.

SmartK12Funding

August 14th, 2012
11:31 am

It is interesting how little commentary there is on this clear representation of the facts from the source: DOE. Usually by now there are pages of thoughts from both sides. Reminds me of the effect of the DOE’s comment the other day that according to their statistical analysis and comparison of funding to outcomes, it is perhaps less about the “how much” a school gets, and more about “how spent”. We certainly are looking to explore that @ http://www.smartk12funding.com.

Tom Crawford of The Georgia Report reported last week in his article “School funding panel ponders a basic question: does money matter?” that:

“Deputy Supt. Scott Austensen told a special study committee Tuesday that his analysis of the numbers indicates the money spent on public education doesn’t really affect students’ academic performance.

He used as an example two schools – which he declined to identify – from the same local system. Austensen said students at the school that spent less money per pupil performed 10 points better on CRCT curriculum tests than students at the second school that spent more money per pupil.” (bit.ly/N4bfnR)

Sounds like similar findings from other recent studies, like Harvard’s PEPG study at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/Papers/PEPG12-03_CatchingUp.pdf.

Ron F.

August 14th, 2012
11:38 am

“despite the gale force winds of resistance from those who keep forgetting it’s about the kids”

Wow- as if anyone who supports public education is forgetting about the kids. I think you’ll find most posters here who disagree with you are actually quite dedicated to the kids, and our caution warranted. The test scores simply don’t support charter schools as the best “choice” there is. You mention Atlanta and Americus. APS and Dougherty have issues and they really do deserve something better. But there are a lot of places in between where the public schools work, the parents are happy and don’t want anything else. Places where they realize that the money the state will have to put into funding state special charter schools will have to come from somewhere. In a tight budget, that means cuts. Where else are we going to get the money?

Maureen Downey

August 14th, 2012
11:45 am

Cheryl: If you follow education funding news, then you probably saw this blog entry last month:

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/07/24/should-state-have-less-say-in-local-schools-now-that-its-paying-less-toward-them/

The AJC has a story today that will not surprise local boards of education: For the first time in 16 years, local governments paid a higher share of the cost of public education than state governments.

In 2010, Georgia’s public schools received about 38 percent of their funding from the state, with local government paying about 48 percent. Federal and private sources accounted for the rest, according to the census report. In the past, the split has been about 55 state and 45 local.

The policy question now becomes: How much input should the state have in local education decisions and practices when it pays only 38 percent of the freight and less in high spending districts such as Decatur and Atlanta?

That has been the crux of the charter school battle: Should the state overrule local boards of education — which, in theory, represent the local voters and local taxpayers — and approve charter schools that then draw local funds?

redweather

August 14th, 2012
12:16 pm

So if I live in a county with charters approved at the local level, I not only support them with my local taxes but I also contribute to the support of state approved schools through my state taxes?

sneak peek into education

August 14th, 2012
12:35 pm

I truly wish it was about the children-it’s not. It’s about money and dismantling the public education system so that those who want a “special” education for their own children to the detriment of every other child in the traditional system can feel like they are getting a private school education.If this were truly the silver bullet for education I would be all for it but the research shows again and again that charter schools, for the most part, do not provide better educational opportunities for children they serve.

Mountain Man

August 14th, 2012
1:12 pm

“Why not just give each parent the “average” amount Georgia spends per student and let concerned parents use that money for the school of their choice?”

Because the amounts are highly skewed. The family of the average normal student would reap a windfall, while the family of a SPED student would get around a third of the cost of education. Why do you think those numbers are so high?

Prof

August 14th, 2012
1:16 pm

@ Ron F., August 14th, 11:27 am: “catlady: How so? If you rent, you don’t own the property, so who gets credit for paying the taxes? You could pay your rent on time and still get kicked out if the owner doesn’t pay the mortgage or taxes.”

The point is that property owner is going to raise the rents to cover the property tax, so in fact the renter DOES pay property tax, just indirectly. Renting isn’t a charity for the property owner.

grandparent

August 14th, 2012
1:16 pm

Although I no longer have children in the school system, I do have grandchildren in several systems across the country and know from experience (my own, not documented, I’m afraid) that not all schools or systems are created equal. Some states and systems do a wonderful job with the funds that they are given, others seem to be bent on wasting the monies given them for the education of the children in their care.
Why would parents want a cholce of schools when they have a system already in place? Probably because the current system is not serving the needs of their particuar child efficiently or effectively. Special Need students, remedial students, gifted students and others are not always served well in the local systems. They cost more money to educate and the systems don’t want (or can’t afford) to hire the necessary teachers, so the children are pulled from their classrooms and given the “enrichment” or “remedial” program in a locale away and apart from the other “normal” students. This sets the stage for these children to get lost in the cracks of their education.
One of my grandchildren managed to hide in the library for over a week, and s/he was not missed by any of the teachers because s/he was not in the “regular” class except for morning attendance and afternoon dismissal. The schedule for this child was so fragmented that there was no teacher responsible to keep track of the comings and goings.
Since being put in a Charter School, this child has become an enthusiastic student, active classroom participant and has come to grade level in almost all catagories…why? Could it be that since the Charter Schools have to manage on less monies, they use the teachers better? This child is no longer pulled from class for “enrichment” or “remedial” education. S/he has made friends in the class and in other classes in the grade level – something that was definitely lacking in the other school. S/he is now a happy student, eager to learn and looking forward to becoming a teacher in the future, This would not have been possible without the state sponsored Charter School since the local school would not allow the classroom teacher to adapt the lesson to this child’s levels or needs.
Although all parents should be in favor of school choice, I realize that not all are. This should not dissuade the others from entering into the fray. Not all schools are created equal, neither are the students, Just look at your own families and you will see that what works for one child will not necessarily work for all the children in your family. This extends to their education just as much as it does to their dicipline.
Give the parents of the state a chance to choose what is best for the individual child and not try to force the square peg individuals into the round holes of county enforced educational practices. It might also work to bring our educational standing out of the basement…

I can not begin to articulate my frustration

August 14th, 2012
1:44 pm

Wow! I just received a news release from DOE. Dr. Barge is opposed to the Charter School Amendment!

CharterStarter

August 14th, 2012
1:56 pm

I’m not surprised that Dr. Barge, who works daily with school superintendents and Boards all over Georgia, has taken a public position against the amendment. He certainly does not speak for the teachers and parents of Georgia, as we will see in November, and he and the SBOE will implement the improved Constitution and law as they are required to do.

Ron, you assume that charter advocates are not also supporting public education. After all, charter schools are public schools, too. I work with school systems all over Georgia, and I have yet to visit a place – no matter the test scores and graduation rate – that would not benefit from the parent involvement, teaching flexibility and market competition provided by charters and school choice.

Atlanta Mom

August 14th, 2012
1:59 pm

So now, not only to I get to pay for the students who go to my local traditional public school, I get to pay for students in North Fulton, or South Georgia, who want to go charter schools. Great.

Ron F.

August 14th, 2012
2:36 pm

“He certainly does not speak for the teachers and parents of Georgia”

He’s speaking pretty well for this teacher, if I may say so. CharterStarter, don’t get me wrong. I see the need for choices, fiscal management, and flexibility in some of the metro systems where large, diverse populations call for it. Out here in the country, you’d be surprised how many parents and teachers really are happy with what they have. We simply don’t have the pressing needs. I’d fully support APS, Dekalb, Dougherty, or Clayton counties being completely charter schools. As for the rest of us, I’d rather the decision be local and either supported or denied locally, period.

Dr. Monica Henson

August 14th, 2012
2:39 pm

Atlanta Mom: applying your own logic, you are paying for students in North Fulton or South Georgia who attend those district public schools as well as those who attend charter schools.

All of us who pay state taxes are paying for public education (district or charter) for every student across the state.

Maureen Downey

August 14th, 2012
2:44 pm

@To all, Atlanta CPA Jarod Apperson — who brings a keen eye to a lot of education financing issues — shared a piece he wrote for the Midtown Patch related to the issue of who pays for what in the state:
http://midtown.patch.com/blog_posts/why-does-georgia-seem-to-disdain-atlanta

The State of Georgia’s primary source of revenue is a production tax on individual income. In 2013, this tax is budgeted to account for 51% of state revenue. The State’s second largest source of income is a consumption tax (sales and use). In 2013, this tax is budgeted to account for 33% of state revenue.

When compared to the rest of the state, the City of Atlanta and intown DeKalb are disproportionately productive. Our per capita income ($36,272) exceeds the rest of the state ($24,489) by 48%. We account for 7.9% of Georgia’s income, though we only represent 5.5% of the population.

Since production taxes are directly tied to income and consumption also increases with earnings, the State of Georgia collects a disproportionately large portion of its revenue from Atlanta and intown DeKalb. In dollar terms, this means each year Atlanta and intown DeKalb pay about $340M more than a per capita share of production and consumption taxes.

The State of Georgia spends this money in a variety of ways, but the biggest portion goes towards education. Forty-two percent goes to the Department of Education which funds local K-12 schools throughout the state. At the state level, the City of Atlanta and intown DeKalb are subsidizing education and other (smaller) services for the rest of the state.

I can not begin to articulate my frustration

August 14th, 2012
2:47 pm

@ Ron F. at 2:36 Well said! This statement certainly reflects my views. If only he would have made this statement during the legislative debate on whether to put it on the ballot.

John Barge said, “Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education. What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases). “

Atlanta Mom

August 14th, 2012
5:57 pm

Dr Henson,
My point is that not only am I paying the state and local portion for traditional schools in my district, I am also contributing to the EXTRA funding the state is giving charter schools.
The winners here are the districts with lots of state charter schools. The local tax will be reduce, due to fewer students in traditional schools, then the bonus funding from the state will be paid by all the taxpayers in the state, not just the locals.
And yes, I think that game will be played. Why not? There is now much more benefit to the school district to not approve charter schools.

Proud Teacher

August 14th, 2012
7:17 pm

Follow the money on this mess. Something just doesn’t add up.

IvyParent

August 14th, 2012
7:59 pm

Crawford Lewis and his cronies have burned almost $40 million dollars just in legal fees in DeKalb. RICO! I don’t hear anyone talking about that anymore…Well, I am helping to pay THAT tab with my DeKalb tax dollars. How can you say in good conscience that my children don’t have the right to state funding for their charter school?

3schoolkids

August 14th, 2012
8:59 pm

Did anyone notice the clause in HB797 that allows the commission to increase the funding of state special virtual charters? That means that while the Guv’s numbers put their funding at 52% they can push it to whatever their appointed selves deem necessary. GCA received increased funding just before and until the Supremes said “no” in 2011. I’m guessing increases in virtual charter funding would be one of the first items on the new commission’s agenda.

3schoolkids

August 14th, 2012
9:24 pm

If they will receive shares of categorical grant funds for transportation and school nutrition does that mean they will no longer be able to charge a fee for these services? Or will this be funds to “offset” their costs with the savings not being passed on to their students?

LD

August 14th, 2012
10:26 pm

@IvyParent – yes, your children are entitled to state funding for their charter school, but not a larger portion than any other student in the state.

a parent of four

August 15th, 2012
6:16 am

Has anyone read the USNEWS study on education that was published last May? They studied the education systems of the top performing countries to see how they are doing it. Here is what they found…”recommendations include the reallocation of money—spending more on paying quality teachers and less on state-of-the-art school facilities, new textbooks, and administrators”. The report also recommends that states take more of a responsibility for funding schools, moving away from the majority local-funded system the country uses now. Wow, this sounds like the charter school methodology. The charter school that my children attend does not have laptops for all of the students or electronic boards in all of the classrooms or even a big library full of books. They operate with significantly less technology than the public school half a mile from our house, but their test scores were higher in three subjects and comparable in all others after only one year in operation. The teachers are re-assessed at the end of each school year and either asked to come back or their contract is not renewed. This allows the school to operate with less and still perform. This issue is not funding. The issue is overspending. No one in the school system wants to acknowledge this fact. Besides Charter schools are as Republican as you get. They function on the basic principles of capitalism. If a school doesn’t perform it will lose its students and therefore close (not have more money thrown at it). If teachers don’t perform they are not asked to come back, which is a normal way to run any type of organization. No one is out there protecting my job and giving me tenor, I have to perform! It is a free market system that encourages innovation and performance! Something our public schools desperately need!

Dawg

August 15th, 2012
11:13 am

Who is being scammed here? Any of Georgia’s 159 County Boards of Education, as well as the Georgia Department of Education, can authorize a charter school. Why is there a need for the taxpayers to pay for another government bureaucracy – The Charter Commission – to authorize a charter school? Someone is being scammed – and it is the GA voters if they pass this constitutional admendment!