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Date Posted: 08:26:20 02/05/11 Sat
Author: CharterStarter, Too
Subject: Re: Ivy Prep FTE info for Charter Starter Too
In reply to: Larry Major 's message, "Ivy Prep FTE info for Charter Starter Too" on 19:18:13 02/04/11 Fri

Mr. Major,

I really appreciate you taking some time to address this. I'm very familiar with the rolling average methodology and the funding formula itself. Here's the rub...Commission schools (and district schools for that matter) have special provisions in 2 charter statutes which levels the playing field for the schools who don't have historical data to draw from, and other factors as well (growth,etc.) Specifically related to FTE, NEW Commission charters are to be funded based on their projections (found in their charter petition)...or....most do enrollment around Februaryish - these numbers could be verified in the October count and adjusted accordingly. For growing Commission charters (like Ivy), they are to be funded based on their ACTUAL enrollment, per the statute (and adjusted up to twice yearly). The state has, in the past, gone out to the schools to do a head count -which is fine. This year, it did not. Nor did it make the immediate adjustments that should have been made after the October count. The schools had to wait 3 months to see the adjustment for not only the number of students, but the programs as well (new Commission schools got NO SPED, gifted, ELL, etc. funds until a recent drop.) And when the schools saw the adjustments, they were either negatively impacted or adjusted in such a minor manner to be negligible. The length of time for adjustments (and the fact that they are wrong) is unacceptable and places an undue hardship on the schools, especially when there are statute provisions to prevent this from happening.

I was curious to see what you thought could be attributed to the huge difference in district per pupil and the charter per pupils. I respectfully disagree with your FTE theory, and in fact, know it is not the root of the issue. I know this because Ivy, for example, has now been adjusted (new allotment sheets out on the DOE site), and they are now even further off in their per pupil. Last year Ivy was funded at $7800 per pupil - not up to par with the districts, but pretty close, and no one was complaining. With the new adjustment the DOE made, Ivy is now down BELOW $6000 per pupil - even with the adjustment for new FTE. Not a single district they serve is anywhere close to $5800 per pupil. The problem is not solely with the local calculations either. The major difference is in the state earnings and how these have been calculated.

The Commission schools, every one, are very far behind their district counterparts. The statute is very specific about how the calculations are to be conducted and what is considered a part of the QBE EARNINGS (note in the statute EARNINGS - not state funds). What we see though is that funds were not properly budgeted in a timely fashion for these schools, and thus, they have been without funds that are critical to paying their teachers (T&E), serving all students (i.e. SPED), and does not include basic categorical grants provided to every school/system. Despite the funding (and living on a wing and prayer every day), the schools ARE fulfilling their obligation to pay the teachers and serve all students ...the state would not provide a "pass" if the schools said, "Well, we don't have the funds to pay, so we won't serve." The state department should not get a free pass either. The law is the law, and what's right is right.

You mention who generated the calculations - I say DOE because every calculation made this year has been generated by the DOE - NOT the Commission (check the source documents provided to the schools). I've run the calculations, and what I see is alarming. Aside from the calculations themselves being so absolutely wrong (you can't argue with the bottom line, no matter what the method in the middle is), what is more frustrating is the lack of commitment to actually fix the problem and make sure the Commission kids are at least in the ballpark of equitable funding. The answer the schools get when they inquire is that it "can't" be fixed, and basically the schools will have to live with it and there is no "mechanism" (read planning/budgeting) for forward funding (note that they managed to "forward fund" the initial students). Everyone was fairly patient with the delay in funding last year since it was the first year of Commission schools. I'm not sure why they should have to live with it for a 2nd year. It is unacceptable for this to have occurred a second time for the new schools or why Ivy has had to live with growing pains due to lack of planning that is no fault of theirs. We keep hearing there has to be a "legislative fix" to the issue. Granted, some things need to be adjusted; however, the basic provisions provided for specifically in the law are currently not being followed - legislative changes cannot fix broken processes. That's the job of the higher ups at the DOE (you?)

It's clear that the FBO did not take any measures to adapt their systems and processes to comply with the new law (that is now 2 years old). It's clear that the budget was not properly inclusive of funds to comply with the law either. And it's clear that budget adjustments and process adjustments are STILL not being made to comply and fairly fund.

The schools need a fix. They aren't asking for anything more or less than what they are due. Won't you please fix this issue as you committed to doing almost 2 months ago?

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