I attended an afternoon Lake County School District workshop today and it went for several hours which I will describe this weekend in another post here .
But, for 3+ years I have been suggesting they needed to calculate the loss per child for charter schools, and today they had a presentation and the losses may be bigger than even I thought.
The major reason is that State law says the School Districts can only charge a 5% admin fee and must pass through all the rest of the per chiid funding from the State to the charter schools. It turns out that for the 10 charter schools, the School District is only allowed by the State to keep 5% of the annual per child collections for the first 250 kids at a school. But several of the schools have up to 800 kids, so the School District doesn't get ANY funds for administration for various services they must provide to the charter schools for any kids over the 250 count
Until last year the cutoff was 500, but now the law lowered the cutoff limit to 250. That State "unfunded mandate" cost the School District a reduction of about $400,000 in revenues to offset charter school administrative costs (hiring, firing, hr, IT, etc).
"We haven't tracked these costs" one manager said. It turns out that "conversion" charters may be more costly because their employees are still in the School District wage and benefits and pension system. One visitor pointed out that union maintenance workers were used at the five conversion schools while the other "startup" types of charter schools could use market rate vendors or part time people without benefits. That is a significant difference. However, the Board will discuss this later when a more accurate analysis of actual costs, including overhead, is produced. And, no changes can occur until Contracts with Charter schools expire, and many are long time contracts. So, don't run out and say conversion school staff might be removed from the School District system - it would take one or more years but I don't think the Board would do that.
BUT, you would think any manager of a 5,000 employee organization would track and know how much is actually spent and lost per child on charter schools. However, they don't, but soon will. That is one difference between a business and a government entity - tracking losses due to excess payments over income. Someday, the taxpayer will get government officials that think that way.
Or, maybe we should talk about the pre-K program - no one seems willing to publish cost figures on it either.
That is why there will be fewer teachers next year due to funding cutoffs and an unwillingness to measure where the real costs are that could be cut without hurting mainstream education objectives.