Saturday, January 10, 2009

Charter Schools Drawing More Students, Dollars

The exodus to charter schools in Plainfield amounts to more than a whole city school gone missing. And the expense over five years has increased from $1.5 million to more than $8 million.

It is no wonder that Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III has his eye on reclaiming both the student population and the funding as the trend increases.

In 2004-05, the district had to allocate $1,476,502 for charter schools. The following school year, the cost was $3,138,542. In 2006-07, $3.3 million was budgeted, but actual expenses ballooned to $5.2 million. Last year, the district set aside $6,092,905 but spent $6,516,430.

So far this year, $8,238,249 was budgeted, but actual costs will not be known until the school year closes.

Already supporting the only three charter schools in Union County, Plainfield will be called on to come up with a projected additional $1.6 million for a fourth charter school in 2009-10. The new school's population is also expected to increase from 160 students to 240 by 2010-11.
An editorial in the Star-Ledger points out some of the differences between charter schools and traditional public education. Built into the charter school formula is parent support and student motivation, while city schools must educate all students who enroll, regardless of whether adults in the household back the effort. Because attendance is mandatory, non-charter public schools receive the disaffected and those with no other options.
With a new federal administration, education of the nation's children will be in the spotlight, along with health care and the economy. Expect renewed discussion on school choice, best practices and the No Child Left Behind legislation.
Just this week, the Plainfield school district announced a new initiative that may help its students make the most of their educational experience - character education. Responsibility, perseverance and courage are among the traits that can maximize any student's ability to succeed, no matter what societal obstacles are in the way. Such emphasis may help the district in the educational tug of war over students and dollars.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The debate about charter schools seems endless. The district would do well to go into these charter schools, talk to parents and students, and see what makes them so appealing. School culture is a huge issue that no one addresses. Character education is a good idea, but the right people are required to implement it. You can try all the programs in the world, but they won't work if the right people(teachers and adults in the building) are not on the bus. Building supervisors need to make school culture a priority. Gathering best practices and being relentless about implementing them should be a focus of Dr. Gallon's. Success stories are out there, but the district won't be successful if the constant battle between charters and district schools exist. The enemy is bad teaching and unsafe environments not charter schools

9:21 PM  

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