NBEF, in a recent Facebook post, has finally recognized that there will be financial and other impacts if their Charter school proposal is approved. We believe this is a conversation the entire NUSD community should have been having all along and we are glad to see NBEF finally engaging in a more complete discussion of the proposal. NBEF is still glossing over much of the potential impact with their "claims" though, as listed below.
CLAIM #1 This charter school will not effect the district budget
The history of charter schools in California tells us otherwise. There are stories after stories of charter school negatively effecting the finances of the district. Smaller districts, like Novato, feel the effect much more strongly than larger school districts. Opening a charter school has never been a cost neutral proposition and nothing we've seen in the NBEF budget leads us to believe this will be any different.
The NBEF is budgeting $170 per student to give back to the district to cover administrative costs. The district currently is spending close to $400 per student to cover administrative costs. The district and its remaining students are left make up the shortfall.
The NBEF is budgeting $320 per student to reimburse the district for facilities. The district cost to provide facilities for all of its 7500 students is north of $800 per student last year. Furthermore the district deferred over 1.5 million dollars in maintenance last year so the true cost approaches $1000 per student for facilities. Again the district is left to make up the shortfall.
CLAIM #2 An elementary school will not close because of this charter
This logic just doesn't make financial sense. If you remove 500 students from the district, there just won't be the money to keep all our 8 elementary schools open. We know the NBEF would happily fill whatever school the district decides to close but do you want to play Russian roulette with your schools future? We think we are better off improving the great schools we have rather than waste our time shuffling students around.
CLAIM #3 Any NUSD teachers laid off will happily go to work at this charter school
The NBEF has not made a guarantee of offering employment to laid off teachers. Even if they did, do you really want to lose those teachers at your school? Why should we have to lose even one great teacher at our neighborhood school to allow this charter to happen? The NBEF is budgeting an average salary for their teachers that is close to 20% less than what NUSD pays. Why should our great teachers be forced to take a pay cut?