The cost of HOLA
Dec 22, 2013 | 1586 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

The recent proposed letter which opposes the expansion of HOLA charter school to 7th and 8th grades by School Superintendent, Dr. Toback, at behest of the Board of Education majority, focused on the cost of charters to the public school system. In support of their position, the letter and subsequent statements have referred to keeping resources in the district. The logic being if the proposed 50-100 HOLA middle schoolers, instead, return to the public schools, there is more money to spend on existing district children. This logic might hold for an incremental handful of kids, but when you hit a tipping point, you need to add more staff and overhead.

A look inside the numbers shows HOLA receives $10,800 per child from the school budget. That money plus another $2,200 in state aid would go back to the district if a child returned. So $13,000 back per child. According to the Board of Education budget numbers, the non pre-k in classroom cost per student is about $12,000 for teachers and supplies only. Dr. Toback's letter to the state pegs administrative costs per pupil at $1,914. (For the sake of simplicity, I will not question where the other $11,000 per pupil is allocated.) The simple math is the school district takes in $13,000 per charter student and spends nearly $14,000 in direct costs. So it is very possible that the district could be reducing resources to the current students, if they kept hostage, those kids who would otherwise go to the charter. As a parent with two children in the district, I am concerned that the Board of Education and superintendent are turning a blind eye to basic math.

Instead of pitting parents against parents through baseless assumptions, the Board of Education owes it to all parents to instruct Dr. Toback to undertake his own study to determine the real costs or savings to the district before opposing the HOLA expansion. Only by knowing the real economic impact can Dr. Toback and the Board of Education uphold their fiduciary duties. Furthermore, the Board of Education and superintendent should be asking why the charter schools can educate a child for less than half the cost of the public school. As a community, knowing the true economic costs/benefits of HOLA expansion can help determine if the recommended course of action is worth the social impact to HOLA students and families.

Brian Murray

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