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Districts Don't Bleed their Schools of Funds - Charter Schools Do!

Paul Hill, Founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, recently entered into a dialogue regarding response to a report by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), The Tapestry of American Public Education. The response was written by Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris.

His entire statement is here.

I would like to draw attention to one part of Dr. Hill's statement below:

"Ravitch and Burris also assert unconditionally that charters harm district schools financially, as public funds follow individual students to charters. This is not true at all when local school populations are growing and charters relieve districts from the need to build new facilities. It can be true when district enrollments are shrinking and charters are growing fast, but only if districts bleed the schools of funds to preserve their fixed administrative costs and staffing formulas." (Emphasis added.)

This statement shows a complete disregard for local school district budgets. In West Contra Costa, for example, the funds being "bled" by the district support:

retiree health benefits (earned by our retired workers),

special education out-of-district costs (legally required) and

additional pension contributions (mandated by our state).

"Districts" don't "bleed the schools of funds" - these are legitimate costs - not administrative nor driven by staffing formulas. In most cases, as Ms. Ravitch and Ms. Burris explain (the exception being growing districts), charters harm district schools financially. LAUSD has examined becoming an "all charter" district - trying to find a solution to the hemorrhaging of funds to charter operators. The answer is to CAP their growth in vulnerable California districts.

Paul Hill

Valerie Strauss' Washington Post column - written by Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris is here.

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