Public Schools Don’t Want the Money to Follow the Child

Published April 1, 2002

Last month’s School Reform News noted that an organization representing 32 of Indiana’s largest school districts had called for a moratorium on charter school approvals because they didn’t want to lose the state funding for students who transferred out of their districts.

The Center for Education Reform reported in January that the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) had called for a similar moratorium on the granting of additional charters in the Empire State.

“The NYSSBA shall seek legislation to establish a moratorium on the granting of additional charters to new charter schools until such time that the legislature mitigates the negative financial and educational impact of the current charter school law,” according to one of the group’s position statements for 2002.

A state advisory body in North Carolina got to the heart of the matter by recently supporting an expansion of charter schools but also recommending districts be held harmless by continuing to receive about half of the funding for each student who left. Roger Gerber, head of North Carolina’s charter school league, explained it this way to the Center for Education Reform:

“Your community has a restaurant. One in 25 patrons die from food poisoning at this restaurant. Restaurants throughout the state have a similar problem. The controlling powers decide to only allow another 10 restaurants to open in the state. If your area is fortunate enough to get another restaurant you can take heart in the fact that the original restaurant will be held harmless if some customers elect to try the new restaurant.”

In approving a YouthBuild charter school recently, the St. Louis Public Schools found another way to support charter schools without fear of losing funding or students. That’s because YouthBuild USA provides GED and construction trades training to young people who are no longer in school, either because they have dropped out or have been expelled. Having them re-established as students brings more state aid to the district.

“They won’t pull students from the district,” said District Superintendent Cleveland Hammonds, Jr., in justifying the approval.