Ivy Prep: Funding and dwindling enrollment fueled decision to close high schools

Ivy Prep sent me a response to a column about why the state Charter Schools Commission should not allow the charter network to close its high schools, which serve 90 students, at the end of this month.

The closing process has already begun, although the official vote of the Charter Schools Commission will come later this month.  The commission is expected to sanction the decision of the Ivy Prep board to shutter its high schools.

You can read my original story about the closing here.

You can read the column about why the schools should remain open here.

And you can read Ivy Prep’s letter to parents about the column here.

Here is a statement Ivy Prep provided today:

082113rohrerThe Governing Board of Ivy Preparatory Academies recently voted to close its high school program after careful consideration of the educational needs of students, the low enrollment, and the budget limitations to providing a high-quality program.

The decision impacted 90 students and their families, including a handful of seniors. Many parents have already withdrawn their scholars to attend partnering high schools.

The board released a statement to parents today to explain their position to act in the best interests of students. IPA operates three single-gender public charter schools in Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties with a total enrollment of more than 1,100 students.

Tony Roberts, president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, also released a statement to explain the funding dilemma facing start-up charter schools, which do not receive a local share of tax dollars for the education of Georgia public school students.

“If funding were not an issue, I am certain that Ivy Prep would continue its high school,” said Roberts. “But funding is the issue and the board and staff of Ivy have made a hard but sound decision to ensure the present and future success of the school in producing Ivy Scholars. Without sufficient funding, these students are better served in other schools at this time. Unlike school districts that can draw upon large reserves or increase millage rates, Ivy Prep receives (as a State Commission approved school) only the state portion of education funding. That means Ivy Prep is one of the lowest funded public schools in Georgia.  Let all those who criticize the school for trying to live within its budget also advocate for and raise more equitable funding, so they can once again offer high school in the future.”

Reader Comments 0

32 comments
newsphile
newsphile

The state chartered schools get funding off the top of the state's education budget.  This reduces funding available for local school districts. 

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@newsphile ummm, but state approved charters don't get ANY local tax revenue.   It does not reduce funding for local school districts.   You might want to check your facts.

newsphile
newsphile

@living-in-outdated-ed @newsphile   Yes, it does take away from dollars for local school districts.  There is no one but us paying into the state's coffers, so state commissioned charter schools are getting our tax dollars, leaving the remaining education dollars to be distributed to our local school districts.  You might want to check these facts.  The state doesn't get a pot of money from anyone except us, and I want my tax dollars to go to my local schools, not to Deal's pet charters.

LarryMajor
LarryMajor

The vast majority of startup charter schools DO receive local tax revenue. The only startup charter schools that do not receive local funding, are those whose charter petitions were approved by the State Charter Schools Commission after being denied by the local BOE. There are only 20 such schools in Georgia.


It is misleading to point out that these schools receive no local funding, without mentioning that these schools also receive significantly more state funding than all other public schools.


As the State Charter Schools Commission’s website explains, “Because state charter schools do not receive a share of local revenue, the funding formula for state charters includes the addition of state funds to offset the reduced opportunity for revenue.”


anothercomment
anothercomment

My child attended a very small private hybrid school last year that was 6-12. She was in 8 th and loved it. We were planning on going to 9 th! Two weeks before school started we got a We prayed on it and did not have enough confirmed enrollment to open email!

This is a horrible situation to find yourself in when you know your child can not go back to the big public school. You do not have $26k for private school. If you are not a right wing fundlementalist, and willing to sign faith statement that you hate Gays etc... This limits you extremely! This is with a kid in the over 90% on the IOWA's.

The administrator told me from the old school that a lot of the former students were now doing the Dual enrollment route since that was approved by the legislature for K-12 and their are on-line schools that for $100 per month will do the high school part!

redweather
redweather

@anothercomment I would caution you about enrolling a tenth grader in Move On When Ready (what Dual Enrollment is now called).  Many students are ready by junior year, but many are not ready until senior year.

CSpinks
CSpinks

Deep Throat said, "Follow the money."


What was good advice in the Watergate era remains good advice today. Let us, the People, see where our tax dollars go. I again propose that each and every public school- traditional or charter- be subjected annually to the rigorous financial scrutiny provided by an audit conducted by a competent, independent, out-of-state entity. No more internal or local financial reviews should be accepted by us, The People, as FINANCIAL  AUDITS.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@CSpinks Let me add that private schools to which money is funneled in lieu of taxes to the state, and private schools that accept special ed vouchers should also be subject to the same!

Point
Point

Since they are closing at the end of October and FTE has been submitted from Ivy Prep, where does the funding go?

HollyJones
HollyJones

@Point My understanding, from someone who works in the central office of another system, is that the FTE money does not come back to the system if the student re- enrolls in the public system.  Thus, I would assume that whatever funds Ivy Prep received for those high school students stays with Ivy Prep. Doesn't seem quite right, when the charter arguement is that the money should follow the child. Seems that is a one-way street.  

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@gactzn2 

As I had warned on this blog years ago, the for-profit charter/private movement will lack the "cohesion" and "continuity" which Georgia's traditional public schools have sustained, even through turbulent changing times in the society, as a whole.

Point
Point

@HollyJones @Point I guess that is how they can retain staff while they have no students to teach.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf @HollyJones @Point 

I do not know if this applies here with Ivy Prep, but I will state what I had stated years ago on this blog, once again, as a general truth, which forever needs heeding: "Students and teachers must never be used as pawns for profit."

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@HollyJones @Point 

This seems to explain why Ivy Prep would open its school for the first two months of the school year and then close it for good.  They wanted to get that FTE money for 2015-6.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@Point @HollyJones What a mess! Then students come to the public schools with no state revenue to support their being there-.  Now what happens when legions of charter schools pull this same crap and close at the end of FTE count- keep the money- then send thousands of students back to the public schools who do not receive the funding to teach them- AGAIN- what a mess!!!!!!Next complaint will be overcrowded classrooms in pubic schools-Can Georgia do better than THIS?

Point
Point

@gactzn2 @Point @HollyJones If we are going to money follows the student funding, then public schools should be able to refuse to enrollment until they get a check.


North Carolina has already gone to vouchers with 90% of them being used at religious schools with the largest recipient being Greensboro Islamic Academy.  I'm sure there are many taxpayers in Georgia whose heads would explode thinking they were supporting schools of other religions.

Parents & taxpayers
Parents & taxpayers

As long as traditional public schools continue to underperform there will be a market for new ideas. However indifferently funded.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@Parents & taxpayers Should your schools shutter its doors at the end of FTE count (October) and send you scrambling to find a suitable school for your child- I am sure you would not feel the same.  Charters are fine as long as they are fully accountable like public schools are.  Problem is- they are not. 

cellophane
cellophane

I was waiting for the "charter schools don't get as much money" martyr speech from Mr Roberts. Georgia was sold the charter movement with cost savings as a selling point. Look at the state DOE finance spreadsheets on revenue. Two of the Ivy Prep schools are right there with Cobb and Cherokee districts in terms of revenue per student. Those districts do just fine. In Cherokee, the state charter school gets MORE funding in their state charter supplement than they would get as a locally approved school-- but the parents are clueless and continue to blame the district for their falling enrollment and lack of funds. Maureen, it would be great to look at the supplement and how it compares to what these schools would get if locally approved. And, how many charters (like Ivy) actually got windfall funding from the state when they LOST enrollment and got to keep the state money for kids who left. It happened in cherokee last year and the school got to keep a million dollllars.

bu2
bu2

@cellophane

Funding is based on actual enrollment, not projected.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@cellophane


Charter schools are not real public schools because their financial data is a secret(private). 


Why is that? Who's making the money they don't want the taxpayer to know about?

gactzn2
gactzn2

@bu2 @cellophane Wonder if they "counsel out" students before FTE count to keep those greenbacks? 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Why are the salaries and vendor payments for IVY Prep hidden from tax payers? Real public schools are required to post this yearly. State Charters are not accountable to the public.Edit (in 5 minutes)

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I have no issues with the statement made by Tony Roberts.  My issue, if the facts prove Ms. Falk correct, is how they communicated this to students and their parents and why they didn't make the decision before the start of the school year.

bu2
bu2

@living-in-outdated-ed


And this letter does not explain why they opened in August nor why it had to happen mid-term.  Since they offer no explanation, there are only two that come to mind:

1)  Their management is incompetent; or

2)  They are in severe financial difficulty (see also 1) above).


As Maureen noted, for good students, the transition may not be hard.  For mid-level and struggling students, this could be very difficult for them academically.  It will be difficult socially for all.

bu2
bu2

@living-in-outdated-ed

Reading the linked letter, it sounds like they blame Alisha Morgan for the waffling.  She didn't want to accept their recommendation not to open in the fall and then changed her mind mid-term.  It still doesn't explain why the board thought mid-term was a good idea.  Nor why they think keeping Alisha Morgan is a good idea.



MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@living-in-outdated-ed  Try the links now. I have talked to some parents at Ivy Prep. They are not happy with the notification process but even more upset the school chose to open given all these challenges, Why, they want to know, weren't they told there was a strong chance the school could not survive the year?

I think some kids will make the transition to a new school easily; it will be harder for others to come in two months into the semester.