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Feb 1 / tester

Charter Schools Do Cost Taxpayers Less

Many in Idaho are led to believe that charter schools cost the taxpayers more than the traditional schools. Not true! The valid point in their argument is that charter schools are usually small and get better funding per student, but so do small traditional schools. Now, a moratorium on charter schools is supported by much of the education establishment. Data from the State Department of Education website reveals that the total expenditure per child in the traditional school setting for FY 2008 in the Caldwell School district was nearly $9,000, and in Nampa nearly $11,000. The expenditure per child in charter schools situated in Canyon County is about $3,000 less.

As previously stated, a charter school receives a little more state funding per student than their traditional school counterparts because the school funding formula recognizes economy of scale and provides additional funding for small schools both traditional and charter, however charter schools do NOT receive any property tax revenue. The traditional school receives property taxes in the form of Emergency levies, Tort levies, Supplemental levies, Plant facility levies, and Bond levies amounting to about an additional $3,000 per student per year. Once again, how much does the charter school receive from the local property taxpayer? None, zero, as they only receive State funding.

The traditional school uses its tax proceeds from the state and local property taxpayer to pay their teachers, their administrators, the utilities, all of the support staff salaries, building maintenance, and the cost to build buildings and the debt service created. What about the charter school? They have the same costs as the traditional school, except they pay ALL of those aforementioned expenses from the State funding without the support of the local property taxpayer. It is not rocket science to determine which is the best deal for the Idaho taxpayer.

This legislature is facing another year of declining revenues which affords them the unique opportunity to find new and innovative ways to get the most “bang for the buck” and certainly more charter schools is one of the ways to accomplish just that! There are others but fundamentally, legislators must come to the realization that you can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again and somehow expect better results. It is time to first of all ignore the “cries of foul” from the establishment with their goal to place a moratorium and go one better, remove the cap!

The Idaho Charter School movement started 10 years ago with a vision to boost student achievement, accelerate innovation and provide greater opportunity for students, parents and teachers. Since that beginning, Idaho now has 36 charter schools, enrolling over 12,000 students but unfortunately over 7,000 students are on waiting lists who want to enroll in a charter school but due to the cap, are denied the opportunity. With charter schools doing a much better job of educating kids and doing it for substantially less money, how is it possible that an artificial cap be placed on them? It does not make sense!

5 comments on “Charter Schools Do Cost Taxpayers Less

  1. Holland Johnson on said:

    I agree with Deide’s article on charter schools. The legislature should make more of them available since there’s a waiting list for parents and students to get into Idaho’s charter schools.

  2. You completely glossed over the preferential funding charter schools get; it deserves more mention and reference than you gave it.

    I also disagree with your contention that charter schools are doing a better job than traditional public schools. It is indisputable that charter schools skim the cream from the crop from traditional public schools. The student populations of ESL, special education, and free-or-reduced-lunch-eligible students in charter schools are miniscule compared to traditional schools. These student populations do not score as well as the general student population, so it is intellectually dishonest to point to test scores on the IRI, ISAT and other tests and say charter schools are doing a better job of educating their students.

    Further, as you well know, students whose parents are more active in their education almost universally outperform students whose parents are more passive, or do not participate in their children’s education. Parents who choose to enroll their children in charter schools are obviously more active and interested in their children’s education, so it only naturally follows that charter school student achievement will be higher. I submit that had these parents kept their children in traditional schools and continued their efforts toward their children’s education, their children would have performed the same; hence, the students’ achievement has no correlation to whether they attended a charter school or a traditional public school.

    Finally, I find it incongruent that one of the reasons you support school district consolidation is the potential for savings by eliminating duplicative layers of administration, yet every charter school creates a new layer of administrative bureaucracy. And let’s not forget how charter schools can cause major headaches for the state and increased costs to the taxpayers; just look at the failed Idaho Leadership Academy, Hidden Springs Charter School, and the litigation over the Nampa Classical Academy (both sides are expending taxpayer funds for litigation, notwithstanding NCA’s “volunteer” attorney from out of state, and when the NCA loses its case, it will have to pay fees and costs to the state using taxpayer dollars). Look also at the Idaho Virtual Academy (K12), which has ignored state bidding requirements for purchasing computer equipment for its students since its inception, going instead through K12 Inc.’s secretive, private purchasing department, yet has undergone little or no scrutiny for the practice.

    Charter schools can be great, but they have a long way to go in Idaho. When the legislature approved them in 1998, it did so as a compromise to appease the voucher system advocates, who in large part became founders of the existing charter schools. Twelve years later, there have been some improvements in the laws governing charters, but more work is needed to improve them to rein in abuses and empower the Charter School Commission or Department of Education to enforce existing federal and state laws, rules and regulations. Only then should the cap be modified or lifted.

  3. erotteAerow on said:

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  4. Gatorbait on said:

    No matter what others say, I think it is still interesting and useful maybe necessary to improve some minor things

  5. Phoenix on said:

    I read about it some days ago in another blog and the main things that you mention here are very similar

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