Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who's Getting Paid at Charters (by Whom?)

Leo Casey (via F.Klonsky):

Note that in addition to public funds which come as revenue for its schools and government grants such as that secured by Cardin, KIPP nationwide has taken in more than $17.6 million from the Wal-Mart Walton Family Foundation over the last three years, and close to $120 million from various foundations since 2003. In each year of its existence, KIPP Baltimore has significantly increased its revenues and its end of the year bottom line balance, which is now close to $1 million on the positive side of the ledger. Moreover, KIPP Baltimore plans to open a second charter school in Baltimore in the coming school year. If we may be forgiven a little understatement, KIPP nationwide and KIPP Baltimore in particular are not exactly in the red.

But no sooner was the ink on that contract dry, than KIPP management decided it really shouldn’t have to negotiate such matters, and began a media campaign to that end. The program in the school was deliberately cut, and teachers’ hours cut in the most punitive way. To understand the full impact of what was going on, consider that KIPP Baltimore has a most interesting profile for an educational organization: it reports a total of 14 teachers, but 19 out of the classroom employees. Key KIPP Baltimore leadership figures, such as the Executive Director and the Principal, are very well-compensated with multiple sources of income — Baltimore charter school base pay, KIPP salary on more than one line, and salary as corporate officers of KIPP Baltimore, Inc. Baltimore KIPP financial documents are confusing — perhaps deliberately so — but one thing is clear: while Baltimore KIPP is now saying that it does not have enough money to pay its teachers the 33% premium on the charter school base pay it just negotiated, it has had no difficulty paying the Principal an additional premium at least 45% of her charter school base pay in at least one year with another 30% in at least one year as a corporate officer of Baltimore KIPP. But cuts were made only in teachers’ hours and in teacher positions.

Yeah... I've been confused about how numbers are being added up when we hear about how much charters are able to do with the same amount of funding as district schools. What contributions are they not counting? How much of the difference is not paying into the pension system, etc? How many people working on site aren't actually on the school payroll? I'd like to know.

It isn't like, say, the KIPP model of putting a few schools in a lot of different cities is designed to minimize costs.

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