Monday, March 2, 2009
Depends on how you define "flush"
So I figured the Daily Hampshire Gazette, after publishing an AP story on the Front Page “Charter Schools Cushion: As critics howl, surpluses are defended”, would have showed some due diligence and requested the financials for our local Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, the one my daughter attends.
The one that created a Hell of a stir two years ago fighting for its very creation/existence in an Israeli sort of way (powerfully opposed by Amherst school officials, individuals now gone or in the process of going.)
PVCIC is after all a public school, and although autonomous from our local school committees still subject to Open Meeting Law and Public Documents Law.
I just wish the AP had done a better job of “fair and balanced” research/reporting. For instance, they headline how Charter Schools ended the Fiscal Year (2006) “flush with cash,” but did not bother to ask Regional Public Schools about their E+D accounts (Excess and Deficiency).
For instance, the venerable Amherst Regional High School has almost $1 million stashed away for emergencies ($927,546 to be exact) in the current Fiscal Year--one everybody considers a crisis.
And 10 years ago the state reimbursed the town 80% of the $22 million Override to renovate the High School. Charter Schools, on the other hand, cannot get state funding for buildings from the Massachusetts State Building Authority.
As of June 30, 2008 the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School had an “excess” of $104,881, WELL below the statewide$365,000 (2006) average surplus for charter schools cited in the AP story.
PVCIC generated total revenues of $841,603 against total expenses of $736,822, so unlike most businesses in The Happy Valley this past year –mine included—they showed a “profit.”
But the interesting math to do is simple division: total costs divided by number of students. PVCIC served seventy-seven children or an average cost per student of $9,569; below the state average and well below Amherst’s $14,000 average.
But even more interesting is that state tax education money (Chapter 70) from sending districts--the ones who whine that Charter School robbed them of that money-- came to $488,611 (58% total) and the other $352, 367 (42%) came from Grants (mostly Federal) and Contributions.
These figures do not include the recent $1.5 million Federal Grant paying out over five years for curriculum development because the Feds consider Chinese a “critical language.”
So…as far as Amherst taxpayers are concerned, the average cost to educate was only $6,345 (or less than half the cost of the venerable Amherst Schools)
Pretty good bang for the buck.