Nancy Grossman: Fix funding formula that enriches charter schools

Friday, March 08, 2019

An article in the Gazette on Feb. 14 detailed the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s recruitment mailings to area families.

Since charter school budgets do not undergo public review, most taxpayers are not aware of how their tax dollars are spent by these publicly-funded, privately-run schools.

Based on information from the state Department of Education, here are the fiscal 2017 advertising expenditures for several area charter schools: PVCICS, $110,000; Hampden Charter School of Science, $51,000; Veritas Prep (Springfield), $44,000; and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School, $13,445.

In other words, the collective equivalent of four-plus teachers’ salaries. This is information easily located for free online.

The plump ad budgets are just part of the generous spending habits of Massachusetts charter schools, which often include tens of thousands of dollars for administrator travel and trustee expenses and an average administrative cost per student three times that of district schools.

Now go to your town’s spring budget hearing and listen to next year’s proposed staff and program cuts for your neighborhood schools, an annual ritual in many municipalities.

To our state legislators: maybe it is time to fix the funding formula that enriches charter schools at the expense of local schools. And a modicum of spending oversight wouldn’t hurt, either.

Nancy Grossman