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Independent Budget Office Confirms Most NYC Charters Better Funded Than District Schools

The city’s Independent Budget Office recently released an update of their 2010 report on charter funding in New York City, and the results are dramatic. According to the IBO, co-located charters (which make up about two-thirds of charter schools in NYC) have been receiving hundreds of dollars more per student than district schools for the past two years.  In addition, they note, the recent increase in charter funding in 2010-11 means that this gap has likely widened, as we pointed out in an earlier post, Are Many New York City Charters Now Better-Funded than District Schools?‘.  Plugging this year’s higher per-pupil funding for charters into the IBO’s formula suggests that as of 2010-11, charters in district space may now be receiving over $2000 more in per pupil support from the DOE than the district’s own schools.

According to the Office’s new formula (which was revised to make it “more “accurate,” according to both the IBO and the Charter School Center), co-located charter schools in the city have been better funded than district schools since 2008-09.   As the IBO’s chart shows, charters which were given free space in DOE schools ended up with $701 more per student than district schools in 2008-09, and $649 more per student in 2009-10. As the chart indicates, the approximately one-third of charters which use private buildings have received less funding per student than district schools over the same period.

Comparison of Funding

Traditional Schools Versus Charter Schools

2008-2009
(Revised) 2009-2010
Traditional Public Schools $15,672 $16,011
Funding of Charters in DOE Buildings $16,373 $16,660
Difference from Traditional Public Schools $701 $649
Funding of Charters in Private Space $13,661 $13,653
Difference from Traditional Public Schools ($2,011) ($2,358)
SOURCES: IBO; Department of Education

As the IBO notes, however, this year’s significant increase in charter schools’ funding levels (to $13,527 per pupil) has undoubtedly had an effect on this situation.  When the new funding level for 2010-11 is plugged into the IBO’s revised formula, a stunning disparity appears – this year, charter schools in DOE buildings could be receiving over $2000 more per student than the district’s own schools.  Even considering that (at most) forty percent of charters might be in private space, the average charter school in New York City is likely receiving over $800 more per student than district schools.

Charter Support 2010-11 In DOE Buildings In Private Space Average charter
Total Per Pupil Funding $18,044 $15,036 $16,840
Difference from District Funding ($16,011) $2,033 ($975) $829

As the state continues its difficult decisions about education budgeting this year, these numbers should provide a sobering counterpoint to arguments that most charter schools in the city are “doing more with less.”

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