Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Charter costs and West Meck suspensions

A caller raised a good question about this morning's story on per-pupil costs at charter schools serving Mecklenburg students.  He correctly noted that charters don't get public money for buildings,  while Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools gets construction and renovation money through county-issued bonds.  The caller suspected that would skew the per-pupil spending reported on the N.C. school report cards.

I'm not sure there's ever a perfect apples-to-apples comparison,  but the state does not include capital expenses   --  that is, building and renovation  --  in the per-pupil tally for charters or traditional public schools,  so it should be a reasonably close comparison of spending on education  (or at least school operating expenses).

While we're scrutinizing numbers,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has issued a correction to some eye-popping suspension numbers from West Mecklenburg High that were reported at last week's school board meeting.

As part of a staff report on discipline and other issues at schools that saw major changes in enrollment,  CMS initially said West Meck had 2,452 suspensions during the first half of 2010-11  --  with an enrollment just under 2,200  --  and 1,482 with a slightly smaller student body this year.  A corrected report issued last week  (while I was taking a few days off, thus the delay in reporting)  amends that to 1,226 last year and 741 this year, exactly half of what was presented to the board.

The email from CMS Communications Director Tahira Stalberte noting the revisions does not address the source of the error.


Veronica said...

So CMS has learned how to massage stats just like Rodney's CMPD.

Nothing is to be believed in Mecklenburg anymore.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope you have asked for clarification. Good luck on that.

Anonymous said...

Fool me once, shame on you,
fool me twice, shame on me.

We won't be fooled again...

Wiley Coyote said...

...when you don't have a clue as to who truly qualifies for school lunch benefits, you also don't have a clue as to what the true per pupil expinditure is.

Any number reported is just that - a number.

Wiley Coyote said...

that would be expenditures above...

To follow up - From Eric Frazier in January of this year:

CMS spending: Bigger bucks go to poorer schools

Spending varies because of staffing formula that adds teachers to help disadvantaged students.

By Eric Frazier
Posted: Sunday, Jan. 09, 2011

Newly released per-pupil spending figures show Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spends in some cases more than twice as much on its poorest students as its richest ones, a fact that could affect upcoming debates over how to close a multimillion-dollar budget gap.

The new figures, released Thursday on the CMS website, show that in the case of elementary schools, the district spends the most per pupil - $10,393 a year - at Thomasboro Elementary, which has a 95 percent poverty rate. The district spends the least per elementary school student - $4,406 - at Ballantyne Elementary, with a 16 percent poverty rate.

Despite the lower spending, 91 percent of Ballantyne's students passed state tests, compared with about half of Thomasboro's.

Similar dynamics can be found in middle and high schools: CMS spends $8,377 per student at high-poverty Sedgefield Middle, compared with $4,014 at low-poverty Community House Middle. It spends more than $10,000 per student at Midwood High, an alternative school for teens at risk of dropping out, many of whom come from troubled families.

...again with the "poverty numbers".

All bogus.

DistrictSix said...

The skewing of the numbers is of concern to people, especially when comparing pubic to charter schools.

There is so much less spent per student on charter students, with our tax dollars.

This always makes people wonder how our Charter Schools can do so well with so little.

Perhaps they need to look at the real skew of, four thousand for suburban students, versus the princely amount of 12 to 15 and up per student in the urban areas.

Some money must have been wasted as the suburban students are excelling in a lot of cases, even while being drained of funding.

The urban areas do have some palaces that were built, that explains a lot of the money.

And perhaps the only over crowded areas in CMS, or the schools in the suburbs will get more attention and money for new buildings.

DistrictSix said...

@Veronica: They not only massage the numbers, they skip the meal and go straight to sleeping with them.

Call It What It Is! said...

This erroneous report was made at the request of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education.

Welcome home!

Anne please publish the salaries of everyone in the chain of command who had to review and approve this data before it was presented to the Board of Education.

CMS is so use to poor performance we are again expected to just write this off as another day in the running of the $1.2 billion dollar local public education system.

How can students and teachers be expected to excel when top dollar administrators simply shoot the bull?

There comes a time when people become so used to falsehoods that they cannot recognize the truth.

Hopefully the new Board leadership will begin calling out the CMS game for what it is!

Please do not buy the bureaucracy's excuses.

Anonymous said...

You might want to see how many teachers are leaving mid-term. The retirees have started bailing early from a sinking urban ship of fools. West Meck would be an excellent example of how many have or are in the process of leaving. The CMS "Communications" department has always gamed those numbers, especially TFA departures, or those leaving to surrounding counties. Wiley, you know first hand about West Meck and early departures.

Anonymous said...


I have had a lingering question that needs answering. Why has Crossroads Charter been allowed to stay open all these years? Their statistics are dismal, but they never seem to rise to the level of public concern. Can you help me out? I don't want to attack them, but I do want to understand what's happening.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 5:09...

Yes but I believe most schools have the same issue.

Many good teachers are just getting fed up with the whole system...

My son's math teacher two years ago gave notice she was leaving after the first semester. It took them several weeks AFTER the break to move another teacher into the position and she didn't want it.

Seems the replacement teacher was some sort of snooty higher paid educrat that didn't come back the next year.

DistrictSix said...

Crossroads Report Card: http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/schDetails.jsp?Page=2&pSchCode=000&pLEACode=60H&pYear=2010-2011

This operates as the school kids are sent to, as a last ditch effort to keep them in some type of school.

If you look at the graduation rate, it is quite remarkable for those who were already dropping school.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info District Six.

Ann Doss Helms said...

5:43 p.m., Hugh Hattabaugh presented the report and is ultimately responsible for its contents. He makes $190,000 a year as interim superintendent and is eligible for another $35K at the end of his interim stint.

9:27 a.m., I don't know a lot of details about Crossroads' performance, but D6 is right that it's a school for teens who have done poorly elsewhere, so I'm not sure what the best comparison point would be.