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Date Posted: 18:50:00 11/27/09 Fri
Author: Larry
Subject: I was unclear
In reply to: Donald F. Valtman 's message, "Re: Letís talk about DeKalb" on 01:02:16 11/25/09 Wed

I also managed to destroy the spreadsheet with actual numbers, so Iím working from memory Ė not a good thing considering my attraction to yeast byproducts. At any rate, if something here looks obviously wrong, point it out and Iíll re-gather the actual student populations, budget numbers etc.

DeKalb currently gets about $10million in state funding for the kids in these charter schools. If these charter schools re-file as commission schools, they would collectively get this $10 million, not DeKalb. I donít consider this any type of cut or loss because those kids are no longer enrolled in DeKalb. It would be the same if they graduated, quit, entered private school or left for any other reason. A school/system ďearnsĒ state funding based on the type and number of students currently enrolled.

The $5 million I mentioned is the additional 50% the Charter Commission gives to schools it approves over and above that determined by the state funding formula. This $5 million doesnít come from the stateís general fund or any external revenue stream; it would be deducted directly from state funding for kids who still attend DeKalb schools.

* Whether a given schoolís population is more or less expensive to educate than a selected baseline is handled, in theory, by the FTE factors in the state funding formula. Beyond this, school/system size is a significant factor that isnít immediately obvious. This isnít an issue with intent or desire, but purely a real world function of size.

When a large school system like DeKalb has a student that costs $100,000 to educate, it raises the average student cost by less than a dollar. Should this happen to an independent charter school with only 200 students, it could very well take them out. If you ever wondered, as I did, how they would handle this situation, now we know.

New Life Academy of Excellence, the first independent startup charter school in Gwinnett, was approved by the BoE in May 2006. When they got some expensive to educate students, who earned more state funding than a typical student, here is what they did - directly from the minutes of the June 2008 GCPS public board meeting:

New Life Academy of Excellence, Inc., submitted an amendment to its charter petition in regard to special education components of the charter school application that was approved by GCPS' Board of Education in May 2006. Currently, the school serves nine students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The school has requested that its current charter be amended, partnering the school with Gwinnett County Public Schools' Special Education department to provide more effective service for its students with special needs. In return for the district's support of these students, New Life Academy of Excellence will remit to the school district its FTE earnings for these special needs students.

All the special services you suggest commission schools may someday provide just ainít gonna happen. A small school simply canít do it. What will happen, is that taxpayers will continue to fund the entire cost of education for expensive SpEd kids, get less than state calculated funding for typical students they pay to educate, while commission schools get full state funding PLUS 50% for the kids they donít unceremoniously toss back to the host school system.

The only ďlosersĒ I see are taxpayers, but opinions vary.

Also, these decisions are made by a board, which is appointed by another appointed board. If you followed the Dacula Library situation, you know that we Dacula folk arenít bashful about explaining the finer points of democracy to elected officials who donít do what we tell them to do.

I respectfully suggest you contact both the winners and losers of the recent local election for an independent assessment of what happens when taxpaying voters disapprove of how a board, appointed by our elected officials, spends our money.

Project this onto the possibility that there may be like-minded folk elsewhere in the state who will have a similarly spirited reaction to an appointed board spending our money without our permission.

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