INC NEWS - Charter Schools -- what I know...
pats1717 at hotmail.com
Mon Dec 10 11:01:21 EST 2007
Someone said at the presentation on bonds at INC meeting that one reason we don't have the building crisis Wake County has had is that charter schools are taking some of the pressure off (I would add that we also didn't bury heads in sand for 5 years, like they did). Public schools are also paying facilities costs out of their operating budgets -- both on-going costs like heating and bond servicing costs for the building. In some cases the charter schools are doing creative re-use of existing buildings (so don't have to spend a lot of money before they get the first student. This need to build schools before the first student arrives is why I am SO in favor of impact fees or transfer taxes). Some non-profit schools might also get donations to their building fund.
I have mixed feelings about charter schools. On one hand, they do give a wider set of choices and some kids are going to be served better by the choice. On the other hand, I think small schools are like helicopters (one small mistake from going down with pretty nasty consequences).
I have a hard time seeing how private capital can be more efficient way to build than either charity or government issued bonds (with their tax-deductible interest). Some of the efficiencies are real (like not having cafeteria and cafeteria workers, tho all the students I have taught saw eating in the room as torture, and you also have to make sure to clean up really well to keep out the pests), some are structural (a new school will have younger teachers, so substantial savings on payroll), some come from better support from the community (it sure would be nice to have this for all schools!), and some are out-right corner-cutting (tho that seems to be a lot worse where the public schools are not seen as a good choice for your kids).
> Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 20:26:18 -0800
> From: mmr121570 at yahoo.com
> To: inc-list at durhaminc.org
> Subject: INC NEWS - Charter Schools -- what I know...
> Unlike Private Schools, because Charter schools
> receive money from the state, Kestrel Heights does not
> charge any tuition. Since they do not get Durham
> money, building the school did/does not cost Durham
> I'm not sure exactly how the financing for Kestrel's
> building is structured, but I do know they are
> associated with a group called Imagine Schools. I
> believe Imagine actually funded the building of the
> school and then Kestrel "leases" the building back
> from Imagine, as a lease is an operating expense that
> is permitted from the per pupil allocation. There
> may be some other administrative services that Imagine
> provides too. This is not an uncommon financing
> structure for a charter school as facilities
> are one of the largest challenges charter schools
> face. I'm sure I could find out more if that info is
> Now I believe Imagine is a "for profit" company and
> some people are horrified by that. However the school
> is not "for profit" and is dedicated to providing a
> great education to kids. It's really no different
> than DPS outsourcing some of the services it needs to
> companies that are "for profit": If you think of it,
> DPS pays interest on the bonds they use to finance
> schools and the holders of the bonds make a profit on
> the loan of their money. Same thing really happens
> between Kestrel and Imagine -- its just on the school
> level instead of being lost in the government cloud.
> In any case, one of the key controls with charters is
> that parents vote with their feet -- if the charter
> school isn't providing a good education that meets a
> child's needs then parents will withdraw kids and the
> school will close.
> Because charter schools do need to pay facilities
> costs out of their operating allocation, they
> generally have to run pretty efficiently. For instance
> Kestrel doesn't have a cafeteria and the kids eat
> either in classrooms or outside when it is nice.
> They do cater in a hot lunch for those that want it
> but not having to dedicate space to a cafeteria
> reduces costs. I actually find not having a cafeteria
> to be an advantage as the
> cafeterias in most schools are too small forcing kids
> to eat in shifts with some kids having either
> outrageously early or late lunchtimes (my KG daughter
> eats lunch at 10:40 AM).
> I could see how DPS might have a burr under their
> saddle over charter schools because it drains money
> from their coffers, but I think the competition is
> good for them and might serve to make the school
> system strive to be better. More importantly, our
> schools are currently overcrowded and charter schools
> are an option that help accommodate the increasing
> student demand without taxpayers having to pay for the
> --- RW Pickle <randy at 27beverly.com> wrote:
> > Is there anyone on this list that tell us the
> > difference between these?
> > Such as State educational requirements, per pupil
> > funding provided by the
> > State (to charter school children), and how it is
> > possible for charter
> > schools to build buildings without charging more for
> > children (or that
> > they do; like private schools do). Maybe even the
> > difference between
> > charter, private, and public. I guess kids who
> > attend private schools also
> > get the State funding sent to that school.
> > I have no kids, so I missed out on all this
> > new-fangled educational
> > process. It seems (to me) that these charter schools
> > are just a drain on
> > funding for our public schools and if things need to
> > change there, we as
> > taxpayers will be called on to meet that burden.
> > Charter schools will just
> > close as some have. I can understand that there may
> > be some overcrowding
> > from time-to-time in our current schools, but growth
> > (of children in
> > numbers) is a hard thing to plan. And unless someone
> > is keeping an eye on
> > it (like Melissa says, where will her kids go in 5th
> > grade if preschool is
> > already this crowded), it could get really out of
> > hand in a hurry. I know
> > developers never estimate how many children will
> > impact a school when they
> > do development. And I doubt anyone else can predict
> > that as well. My
> > street over here once had 52 school-age children on
> > it. Today that number
> > is 10. And of those 10, 2 attend a charter school, 1
> > attends a private
> > school, and the rest go to public schools. But
> > that's a big difference
> > from the 52 who were once here and that must really
> > mess up planning for
> > someone.
> > Because we live in a different world today than when
> > I was growing up, it
> > seems our society has become so transient. Given
> > several large company
> > moves from our region, the entire population base
> > that we plan for could
> > move as well. I think about the declining cities in
> > the north; they could
> > use more students. Here, our economy is good, so we
> > get more residents
> > (and their kids). It must be a hard thing to plan
> > since building schools
> > are not something that is done overnight. I guess
> > that is why we've turned
> > to trailers as a temporary solution. The kid
> > population could change one
> > way or the other from year-to-year depending on
> > where the parents are in
> > their lives.
> > RWP
> > 27 Beverly
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