Recently I was asked the question – “Why does APS spend in the neighborhood of $14,000 per student and only funds Charter Schools at a $9,000 level per student? What are the differences?” The Chart below begins to shed some light on the differences in “Spending Per Student” by type of expenditure.
A couple of comments to help explain the differences:
- The $14k noted in the question includes APS spending of Federal funds (primarily Title I and Nutrition) and SPLOST funds that are not allocated to Charter Schools. Accordingly, these amounts are left out of this analysis and the appropriate comparison is between APS General Fund per student spending and the amount APS funds to Charter Schools on a per student basis.
- APS spends $9,037 per student on the core functions of Direct Instruction, School Administration and Operations. This amount is $142 higher per student than the $8,895 spent per Charter School student. I believe the primary difference is attributable to the additional “local revenues” available to APS that are not allocable to the Charter Schools (E-Rate, Tuition charges, investment interest, etc.).
- There are two items that the Charter Schools do not incur, but APS does – Transportation costs and payment on the unfunded Pension liability. These costs amount to $1,310 per APS student.
- The biggest difference is the APS spending on General Administration – $1,247 per student. These types of costs are not funded for Charter Schools and the Charters must find ways to fund it on their own.
Based on this analysis, a couple of questions come to mind:
- Why is the cost of General Administration for Charter Schools not funded?
The answer lies in the mechanisms used for State QBE funding and subsequent allocation of “local revenues” which is derived from the State QBE calculation. In short, the QBE does not take into consideration the General Administration expenditures as part of the methodology used.
- Is it equitable that local taxpayers must fund the cost of General Administration for APS, but that Charter Schools (which are also public schools) are on their own to fund this expenditure?
My answer would be no. If the APS Board of Education has determined that it should spend $1,310 per student on General Administration (or over $57 million in the FY13 Approved Budget) then it should allocate a similar per student amount to the Charter Schools for the costs they also incur for these functions. If they did, the additional funds that would flow to the Charter Schools would amount to $6.5 million.
Anyone want to take a guess as to which system would put the funding to better use? You know the answer.