Study Shows School Systems Benefit Financially From State Commissioned Charter Schools

November 5, 2012 15:00 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 14 comments

Received via press release:

ATLANTA – A new study from Georgia Tech Economics Professor Christine Reis shows that school districts totaling almost 90 percent of Georgia’s students stand to gain financially when a state-authorized charter school opens in their community.

The study sheds new light on the ongoing debate over charter schools in Georgia. Tomorrow, voters will go to the polls and decide on a constitutional amendment that would ensure both the state and school districts have the authority to approve charter schools. Opponents to the amendment have argued that state-authorized charter schools will take away funds from school districts, yet this new study shows just the opposite.

Not surprisingly, the largest gains for districts occur where spending per student is the highest and administrative expenses are above the state average. According to the study, these districts add an average of $1,218 to their budget for each child that leaves to attend a state-authorized charter. This occurs because no local funding goes to the state-approved charter school, meaning all local property and sales taxes remain with the district to be spent on the remaining students. Nearly 1.4 million Georgia students are enrolled in the districts that would see a net gain.

The study can be found here. Full press release below the fold.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2012

ATLANTA – A new study from Georgia Tech Economics Professor Christine Reis shows that school districts totaling almost 90 percent of Georgia’s students stand to gain financially when a state-authorized charter school opens in their community.

The study sheds new light on the ongoing debate over charter schools in Georgia. Tomorrow, voters will go to the polls and decide on a constitutional amendment that would ensure both the state and school districts have the authority to approve charter schools. Opponents to the amendment have argued that state-authorized charter schools will take away funds from school districts, yet this new study shows just the opposite.

Not surprisingly, the largest gains for districts occur where spending per student is the highest and administrative expenses are above the state average. According to the study, these districts add an average of $1,218 to their budget for each child that leaves to attend a state-authorized charter. This occurs because no local funding goes to the state-approved charter school, meaning all local property and sales taxes remain with the district to be spent on the remaining students. Nearly 1.4 million Georgia students are enrolled in the districts that would see a net gain.
For the Metro Atlanta area, here are the figures cited in the study that each district would gain for each student that chose to attend a state charter school:

Gwinnett County — $1,492.72
Cobb County — $1,851.11
DeKalb County — $2,511.53
Fulton County — $3,098.28
Clayton County — $913.44
Atlanta Public — $6,506.67
Henry County — $518.48
Cherokee County — $921.20
Forsyth County — $1,718.06
Fayette County — $2,076.31
Rockdale County — $1,851.78
Marietta City — $2,923.69
Buford City — $3,217.11
Decatur City: $5,035.01

The study also found the districts that would theoretically lose funds because of state charters opening in their area are the smallest districts and therefore most unlikely to have charters located there. These systems average just 3,221 students per district and usually have five or fewer schools.

The study, which can be found at http://www.econ.gatech.edu/files/papers/CharterSchools_0.pdf, finds this about the vast majority of Georgia school districts that would gain from charter schools, including all those in the Metro Atlanta area: “For those districts, all parents, teachers and superintendents should encourage the creation of charter schools. Parents and charter school teachers get the innovation, choice, and student-centered programs that they are seeking. Regular public schools and districts have greater resources per student for those students and families that remain.”
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ricstewart November 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Thanks, Buzz, for saving me the hassle of doing Google News searches for “charter school” for the past three months.

benevolus November 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm

If I am understanding this though, it is meaning “per student” funds. But that is probably irrelevant for this argument. The bottom line is that schools will have less money overall and the same expenses.

Howard Roark November 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm

My guess is CA 1 is to close to call. I understand Landmark Communications polled the CA this weekend but have heard no results. The Ga gang had nothing to say about it Sunday. My guess is it has a chance to go down, mainly because citizens don’t trust Atlanta Ga to run local schools.

bowersville November 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Here’s what Matt Towery had to say today:

As to the controversial charter school amendment, Towery states “We have not publicly polled this…however, the internals of other polls I have seen suggest that this thing might be getting tighter …independents are breaking against it… African-American voters, who had basically held about the same level of support as whites are being told to vote ‘no’ and some of the ads and mailers for the effort have confused Republicans, particularly seniors, by appearing to be designed to appeal more to Democrat and minority voters.

http://www.southernpoliticalreport.com/storylink_115_2774.aspx

Six days ago from Survey USA:

On Amendment 1, the Georgia Charter Schools Amendment, 38% of voters tell SurveyUSA they are certain to vote Yes, 29% say they are certain to vote No, but 33% are uncertain

http://www.surveyusa.com/index.php/2012/10/30/8-days-till-votes-are-counted-gas-16-electoral-votes-remain-red-charter-schools-amendment-has-narrow-plurality-but-1-in-3-are-undecided/

The 33% of undecided seems to back Towery.

rrrrr November 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I just wish we all knew where Buzz stood on this issue being it’s SO close to the election…

It will be interesting what happens with both Amendment 1 and 2.
T-SPLOST recently showed us even a flawed plan can pass “somewhere” in the state.

Make our leaders work a little harder like the rest of us, just VOTE NO and give them another chance.

saltycracker November 5, 2012 at 10:11 pm

The date on the study is September and the immediate press release is Nov 5.
Guess they didn’t want to influence those that haven’t already voted.

Angela Palm November 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Perhaps I just missed it, but I did not see a disclosure in the press release or report that Dr. Reis is on the governing board of Charter Schools USA’s two state charter schools in Coweta and Cherokee. I do not doubt her expertise, but I do believe this should have been disclosed. If I missed it, I apologize.

I was surprised at the editorial-type comments in the report. I expected simply an economic analysis. Alas, there’s been nothing simple about this amendment.

Harry November 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

And you are the Director of Legislative Services of the Georgia School Boards Association?

bowersville November 6, 2012 at 12:13 am

Harry you can follow the link by clicking Angela Palm’s name. We all know when a comment left by someone with their name written in blue the name provides a link. In case you are having trouble, let me give you the direct link to Senior Staff. Now scroll down and you can find Angela Palm.

http://www.gsba.com/Portals/0/AboutGSBA/GSBA_SeniorStaff.pdf

Ms. Palm hid nothing.

Harry November 6, 2012 at 12:20 am

I’m not saying it’s not disclosed, I’m just highlighting her employment with the government school establishment. That means she gets a paycheck from them.

bowersville November 6, 2012 at 6:08 am

If Dr. Reis is on the governing board of two of Charter USA’s charter schools, that should have been disclosed so the reader could properly weight it. Rightfully, Ms. Palm pointed that out.

Good Morning BTW…it’s fun work for me today. No matter what side of any issue you are on, whichever candidates you support, take someone to the polls. Call your friends, your neighbors, and wear the “Peach” and remind folks to vote

Dave Bearse November 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

Yeah, they’ll benefit until it’s time to make up the $400M in state revenue funding state-chartered schools. Tax increases are likely off the table.

There may well be changes to QBE/overall appropriations that fund schools, in which case amendment proponents claims that amendment wording won’t affect non-charter public schools funding would be exposed as a charade. Overall school funding is determined by appropriation and statue subject to the whim of a monopoly Gold Dome (monopoly because there is no choice for voters on over 2/3 of ballots), not anything within the amendment itself.

Angela Palm November 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

Yes, Harry, I am. I have disclosed that previously and it is in my profile, so there is no attempt to hide where I work.

ricstewart November 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Is there any way someone can post a county-by-county map that shows where Amendment One passed and where it failed?

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