Public funding for most NYC charter schools exceeds district public schools

Today, a new report from New York City’s Independent Budget Office was released, showing that during the 2009–2010 school year, per pupil public spending for general education students enrolled in NYC co-located charter schools significantly exceeded public spending for students at district public schools.

The difference was about $650 per student. About two thirds of charter schools in NYC fall under this category and are given free space in city school buildings.

This analysis, which corrected the estimates made in an IBO report last year, did not take into account the large private subsidies that many charter schools receive.

Nor did it account for the fact that charter schools tend to enroll fewer high needs students than the communities in which they are located, including fewer students from families living below the poverty line and fewer English language learners. (The funding of DOE public schools is supposedly pegged to the number of high needs students enrolled, but charters escape this formula.)

As a recent report from the National Education Policy Center revealed, the difference in public subsidies between NYC charter schools and traditional public schools would be even larger, if the difference in the type of students they enrolled was taken into account.

This year, charter school students received yet another big boost in per pupil funding from the state, while district schools had their budgets cut.

As the IBO concludes: “When complete data from 2010–2011 become available, they are almost certain to show an even greater advantage for those charters housed within public school buildings compared with traditional public schools.”

According to GothamSchools, the DOE asked the IBO to take down their analysis. To their credit they refused. Transparency, anyone?

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