In Massachusetts, charters clash with traditional schools over siphoning of funds | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 8, 2016

In Massachusetts, charters clash with traditional schools over siphoning of funds

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 11:31 AM

click to enlarge ANOTHER FRONT: The Massachusetts State House in Boston. - DADEROT AT WIKIPEDIA, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Daderot at Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • ANOTHER FRONT: The Massachusetts State House in Boston.

Those following the charter school debate in Arkansas should read this piece by the American Prospect's Gabrielle Gurly about a parallel fight in Massachusetts, where the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education recently authorized an expansion of charter schools in Boston to accommodate over 1,000 more students. A push for a ballot initiative to remove a statewide cap on charters is also underway.

That should sound familiar to Little Rock. The equivalent state-level panel that authorizes charters in Arkansas, the state Board of Education, last week gave final approval to the expansion plans of two Little Rock charter schools, eStem and LISA Academy. EStem and LISA will add some 3,000 seats over the coming years, which will inevitably impact the Little Rock School District, just as charter growth in Massachusetts is eating into Boston Public Schools. Like the LRSD, Boston Public Schools is majority-minority and is facing substantial budget cuts. To sum up the parallels:
Today, Bay State superintendents, local school committee members, and even some public officials who support charters warn that an unprecedented expansion by way of the ballot box would further erode the resources available for the schools that the vast majority of students attend and would threaten the very schools that they were supposed to help save. Many fear that Massachusetts school districts have reached a tipping point that a sudden, substantial increase in charter schools could easily upend.
One big difference between Massachusetts and Arkansas schools, though is how they're funded. Like in Arkansas, the bulk of school funding in Mass. comes from a state-facilitated, partial redistribution of local tax dollars, with additional state funds on top, in the form of a per-pupil amount of "foundation funding." In Massachusetts, if a student departs a traditional school for a charter school, the traditional district is required to pay the charter directly, Gurly says:
When a student leaves a school district to attend a charter, that district transfers a tuition payment based on a district’s average per-student expenditure. To mitigate the financial impact of this transfer, a district receives a 100 percent tuition reimbursement from the state the first year but only 25 percent in each of the next five years.
The funding situation is not quite as dire in Arkansas. Make no mistake: A net transfer of students from the LRSD to eStem still results in the LRSD losing money eventually. But charters don't throttle district budgets quite as brutally, because Arkansas schools are funded based on their previous year's enrollment, explained Richard Abernathy of the state association for school superintendents.

"If a kid attended [the LRSD] last year, Little Rock will be funded for that kid [this year], period," Abernathy told me, even if that student leaves and goes to a charter or another district. "But next year, if that student stays in the charter, then the district would lose that money." (Schools that see a growth in enrollment over the course of a year may also receive additional "growth funding" for the cost of educating those new students. And, if a district loses enrollment over the course of two years, it can receive a limited amount of "declining enrollment funding" to help cushion the blow somewhat.)

Does that mean Arkansas charter schools don't negatively impact traditional districts? Absolutely not. Budgets are still affected by the loss of students, even if it takes two years to kick in. But more importantly, the kids who tend to be left behind in district schools tend to be kids that face more disadvantages than their peers. They're more likely to be from poor families, more likely to have learning disabilities and more likely to have limited English proficiency.

That looks much the same in Massachusetts as it does in Arkansas. Gurly writes of a district in northeastern Mass., Triton Regional School District, which serves 2,700 students in coastal communities. "Last year, the district transferred nearly $630,000 in tuition for 51 students who attended Newburyport’s River Valley Charter School," she says. "The final budget included $1.5 million in cuts to a nearly $40 million budget." But just as worrying:
Triton has shed a few hundred students over the past several years, but the enrollment decline masks an even more worrying indicator in the predominantly white district, which directly impacts the district’s budget. The numbers of special-needs students with the greatest challenges have increased. Those children are the most expensive to educate since they require specialized programs and services. District schools continue to grapple with the difficulties posed by having fewer dollars and higher percentages of students who require specialized education. Traditional public schools must provide instruction for every student. Charters, however, are not required to accept the same proportion of low-income or special-needs students that the district schools typically enroll.

“Charters filter out certain kids,” says Christopher Lubienski, a University of Illinois education professor. Low-income students who attend charters “tend to be the advantaged of the disadvantaged,” he says. “The poorest kids and the kids with the most costly special needs still go to public schools.”

A 2015 Massachusetts Association of School Committees study found that although charters do enroll some challenging groups like English-language learners, they are not doing so at the same rates as traditional public schools. Bay State charters also continue to under-enroll poor students, while children with more profound types of disabilities were also under-enrolled or not enrolled at all.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
  • When Johnny Reb comes marching to Hot Springs

    They are assembling for and against white supremacist symbols in Hot Springs today. Photographs by Brian Chilson of the Arkansas Times.
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation