Supporters say, "There's no harm to the schools"


The sponsors offer two reasons why the schools are not harmed when voucher students leave.  

First, they say, the numbers are small compared to the enrollment losses schools already experience as a result of demographic shifts.  That is incorrect.  In its first year, the voucher  program could double or triple the average annual enrollment loss public schools have experienced in the last 10 years.

Second, the sponsors say that the impact on the schools when a voucher student leaves is the same as when any student leaves for any reason, except for a difference in timing.

This is incorrect as well,  A school does not get state aid for a child for the first three years the child is in the school.  Under normal circumstances, when the child leaves, the school continues to get state aid for next three years, so the school comes out even in the end.  

But the Education Tax Credit program would change all that voucher students.  

The school would lose the state aid right away, in the year the child leaves, and in the following years.  The loss to the school, if the student continues to receive a voucher, is not just the $4,112 that shows up in the DOE spreadsheets, but $12,000 to $16,000 depending on the year the child leaves, much greater than when a child leaves under normal circumstances.

This leads to a very odd situation in the schools.  Say 2 classmates leave a public school for a private school. One has a voucher but the other doesn't.  The school will get 3 more years of school aid for the child with no voucher (balancing the 3 years it did not get to begin with), but will lose current and future aid immediately for the child with the voucher.

In the normal case, the district has time to plan and adjust.  But when voucher-funded students leave, the impact is unpredicted and immediate.  And the result is both less teaching and higher local property taxes.

When school choice advocates talk to each other

In a 2008 article entitled, “Wave of the future: Why charter schools should replace failing urban schools,” Andy Smarick of the Fordham Institute, and former CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, revealed a radically different finish line— that is, privatized, free-market schooling:

“As chartering increases its market share in a city, the district will come under growing financial pressure. The district, despite educating fewer and fewer students, will still require a large administrative staff to process payroll and benefits, administer federal programs, and oversee special education. With a lopsided adult- to- student ratio, the district’s per- pupil costs will skyrocket. At some point along the district’s path from monopoly provider to financially unsustainable marginal player, the city’s investors and stakeholders— taxpayers, foundations, business leaders, elected officials, and editorial boards— are likely to demand fundamental change.” (Smarick, 2008)

Here's the full article:

h/t Joe Onosko

In the FY 2012 budget, the 2011/12 school year, adequacy aid was calculated using AMD counts from the 2008/09 school year, 3 years before.  So any child in kindergarten or grades 1 or 2 in the 2011/12 would not be in the ADM count.  They started after the 08/09 school year - 09/10, 10/11, or 11/12 school year.  The second year of the biennium, FY 2013, uses the same 08/09 ADM count so, now, the 3rd graders would also not be in the ADM count.  So the ADM numbers the school gets paid for are either 3 or 4 years old, depending on which year of the biennium you are looking at.  

For the first 3 years Mary is in a public school, the front end of Mary's school career, she does not appear in the ADM count and the school district does not get state aid for Mary.  From Mary's kindergarten year through her 3rd grade year, the school gets no aid for her.  Starting in the 4th year grade, the school does start getting state aid, because 4 years ago, Mary had entered kindergarten and started getting counted.  

But the school makes up for it at the back end.  When Mary leaves - because she moves, goes to a private school or graduates - the school continues to get paid for Mary for 3 or 4 more years, because the ADM count is still 3 or 4 years behind. 

So, under normal circumstances, it all comes out in the wash - the payments to the school are delayed but if Mary goes to the Concord public schools for 12 years, the district will get 12 years worth of adequacy aid, on a 3 year delay.  State aid has worked this way since the beginning of state aid and it works out fine.  

The Education Tax Credit program (HB1607/SB372) would totally upset this funding approach because it would cut off the back end of the school's state aid.  When a student leaves under normal circumstances, the school gets 3 or 4 more years of state aid and can budget for the impending decrease.  But when a voucher student leaves, the back end is cut off.  The school loses state aid in the current year and the following years.

But the Friedman Foundation is willing to say anything...

posted Mar 1, 2012, 6:28 AM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Mar 1, 2012, 6:29 AM ]


We include this link to a Friedman Foundation study to show that there are no limits to what the school choice advocates are willing to call a study so that bill sponsors can refer to it in support of legislation.  It says that 64% of the costs of educating a child in a given year are variable costs, so the schools actually save money when the child leaves!  

The advocates and sponsors rely on assumption that legislators are unlikely to actually read the study or assess it.

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