Charters don't get unfair funding advantage

May 25, 2011

Responding to your May 23 article on per pupil funding in Baltimore City public schools, I see no evidence that school leaders and charter officials are "at odds," either in the real world or in the article. I see even less for the claim that charter schools are set to receive "more per pupil funding" in the budget.

The city school system currently spends $11,640 per student. This seems the relevant number to compare with the charter per pupil expenditure of $9,318. Also note that charters do not receive any capital funding and must pay for facility costs out of that $9,318.

The $5,000 expenditure in district-run schools refers to the amount of per pupil funds over which principals have discretion. The rest is centrally managed or comes to schools as staff or services.

I am certain that schools CEO Andrés Alonso would want to set the record straight — that he is not "at odds" with charter schools — for two reasons. The first reason is that Mr. Alonso is a great supporter of charter schools (his charter-like Transformation School initiative brings to mind the adage 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"). The second reason is that $5,000 per student can't be the correct figure for district run schools since that would suggest that the remaining $6,640 per pupil allocation is being spent on something other than students. Mr. Alonso will surely attest that that is not the case.

David Borinsky, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Charter School Network.

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