According to a published report in the Connecticut Post, the “Education Reform Plan” that Governor Malloy will announce later this week will include Commissioner of Education Stephan Pryor’s plan to give charter schools more public funds including money that will be shifted from helping Connecticut’s poorest urban districts. The primary beneficiary of this move will likely be Achievement First, the large Charter School Management Company that has 9 schools in Connecticut. An ironic development considering Stefan Pryor helped create Achievement First and has served as one of its Directors until he resigned to accept Malloy’s invitation to become Connecticut’s Education Commissioner.
Details about the plan remain vague, but it would appear that Governor Malloy has decided to side with the charter schools and begin the “money follows the child” system in which scarce dollars used to help pay for education in existing school districts would be transferred to the charter schools.
The report is the Governor will “increase per-pupil funding for charter schools from $9,400 to $12,000” and that at least $1,000 per-pupil would be a transferred directly for the resource poor urban districts to the big-time donor supported charter schools that have recruited students from their area.
The Connecticut Post (see link below) claims that this would be the first time local districts would be transferring money to charter schools in their towns. The paper notes that “for districts like Bridgeport, which sends about 1,400 students to charter school, the cost would be $1.4 million annually.”
While that loss would be a major blow to the Bridgeport Public School System, the paper’s claim that charter schools don’t get any funds from local districts is blatantly false although the “untruth” has been consistently used by Achievement First and other charter school managers in their battle to get more taxpayer funds.
For example, the City of Hartford paid $1.5 million to help renovate the old school building that Achievement First – The Hartford Academy moved into. In addition, Hartford pays Achievement First $500 a year for each Hartford student who attends Achievement First – Hartford Academy (and that is on top of the grant Achievement First gets from the state of Connecticut). Hartford also provided Achievement First with a “one-time payment” of $400,000 to “cover costs associated with the operation of the school”.
As Achievement First has expanded, the cost to the City of Hartford has also gone up. According to one estimate Hartford now provides Achievement First with $2.35 million a year, money that could be helping Hartford overcome the existing challenges that face its schools.
Meanwhile, while Achievement First cries poverty, they seem to skip over the fact that the state of Connecticut gave Achievement First a $24 million grant to help build the permanent home of the Amistad Academy, which opened last year. It was the first grant of its kind to a charter school in Connecticut and will end up costing Connecticut taxpayers well over $35 million to pay back the bonds and interest for that grant.
Apparently Governor Malloy’s new plan not only over looks these existing taxpayer-funded subsidies but he is calling for significantly more money to be given to Achievement First and other charter schools.
According to the CT Post article, the number of charter schools allowed in the state would increase from 17 to 22 including some type of incentive that would reward local school districts to setting up separate charter schools within their district.
Of course, that overlooks one of the major problems and that is how does a publicly elected municipal board of education legally allow a charter school to be set up in its district when that charter school doesn’t even allow a local elected board to citizens to oversee it.
Achievement First traditionally claims that they need and deserve exactly the same amount of money that public district schools receive. But the fact is that they don’t have unionized faculty and staff so they can pay less…and yet these same teachers are put into the state’s teacher retirement system which will cost Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of extra dollars in the years to come.
For more information on the breaking story see http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Charter-schools-to-get-boost-under-Malloy-plan-3057442.php#ixzz1lcWikeVR