It’s finally happened!
An official of Bridgeport Public Schools finally admitted that there has been a reduction of students that would have attended Bridgeport schools due to the opening of new charter schools.
At Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, district CFO Marlene Siegel told board members that Blackrock School lost an entire sixth grade class because, “in some cases we are losing students to charters.”
This is a huge deal because over the past year the anti-charter lobby has been using flawed data to promote the claim that new public charter schools siphon money away from traditional public schools, never taking into account the money districts save when students leave for charters.
As Education Bridgeport! has reported on numerous occasions, in Connecticut, funding does not follow the child. State law holds districts “harmless” for reductions in enrollment. Meaning, when a student leaves the district to attend a charter school, Bridgeport keeps the funding.
Even though in the past few years Bridgeport Public Schools has seen an increase in enrollment overall, the fact that a school can reduce an entire classroom is significant.
That’s an entire classroom of funding and resources that can now be spent elsewhere, due to the fact that new charter schools have opened.
To put that into perspective: One classroom of 29 students equals around $420,000 in funding that Bridgeport Public Schools now gets to keep.
With over 350 new charter school spots opening in Bridgeport over the next year (assuming in-district students will fill about seventy-five percent of those spots) the district will be saving at least $2.6 million – and that’s just counting students who will be leaving the district for charters this coming year.
According to estimates published last year by the advocacy group ConnCAN, between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, Bridgeport Public Schools will receive around $33 million in per-pupil savings for student who attends charter schools.
It seems pretty clear that Bridgeport’s traditional schools stand to gain, not lose, from the expansion of new charter seats.
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