Do new charter schools really cost L.A. Unified more than $500 million a year? Charter and district leaders respond

Source: Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2016

The growth of independent charter schools pulls at least $500 million from the Los Angeles Unified School District annually, according to a report the teachers union commissioned. District leaders want to respond to its findings but said Tuesday they need time. … Board members said that they and district staff had just received the report Monday or Tuesday. Charter schools are publicly funded but can be privately run. Like district schools they receive funding based on the number of students enrolled. So if students leave the district for charters, the district loses money. … The report states that the district has “a higher proportion of special education students than the charter schools (13.4% vs. 8.1%, as of December 2013).” Angel said a special education program type called Option 3, a type of funding agreement the district and charter schools created in 2011, has increased the share of Los Angeles students with disabilities in charter school. …

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Union-commissioned report says charter schools are bleeding money from traditional ones
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2016

A teachers union-funded report on charter schools concludes that these largely nonunion campuses are costing traditional schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District millions of dollars in tax money. The report, which is certain to be viewed with skepticism by charter supporters, focused on direct and indirect costs related to enrollment, oversight, services to disabled students and other activities on which the district spends money. … The study calculates that services to charters encroach on tax money the district intended to use for traditional schools, adding up to at least $18.1 million a year and growing. … With more education tax dollars going directly to charters, the result is a decline of more than $500 million a year — about 7% — in the district’s core budget, the researchers say. The effects of this drop are difficult to quantify because fewer students in traditional schools also means a reduced need for teachers and other personnel. But even with reduced staffing, the district faces a net loss of about $4,957 per student, the study says. That amount accounts for fixed costs, such as maintaining buildings. …