Financial Mismanagement Can Affect All Public Schools – Not Just Charters

July 6th, 2011

Category: News

House Bill 205 was unanimously passed last week in order to provide taxpayers greater oversight and transparency into charter school finances – mostly as a result of poor financial management among a couple Delaware charter schools. 

Critics blamed charter schools and the DOE.  And while these criticisms are valid, these unfortunate circumstances are not unique to charters but have arisen in traditional public schools in Delaware, too. In fact, HB 205 extended the financial receivership (additional state oversight – under which Red Clay and Christina recently were placed) to charter schools.

Financial oversight is not the only problem; unfortunately, our policy environment creates other issues, including:

  • Little transparency due to the funding streams that do not follow students but are restricted in position-specific staffing and categorical line times. This prevented any insight into recent district financial challenges until it was too late.
  • An inequitable funding system that gives charter schools, which do not have legal authority to level taxes and whose parents pay the same rates as their neighbors, $1,550 less/student in local funds alone (leaving out capital and state funding) – hindering their ability to successfully build an academic program that can compete with traditional districts. In fact, the gap Pencader is facing is almost equivalent to the funds they don’t receive in comparison to their district counterparts.

While the solutions to these problems aren’t new, the students and their families continue to suffer the consequences of financial mismanagement.  Instead of piling on criticism unfairly, we welcome the opportunity to work with stakeholders to move us to a place where all public schools are given the freedom to invest their taxpayer dollars to help students and held accountable for both their spending and performance results. 




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Author:
Brett Turner

bturner@rodelfoundationde.org

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