New charter schools crunch public efforts

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A grim financial reality was revealed at last week’s Natchez-Adams School Board meeting.

If a charter school is approved for Adams County, the financial impact on the existing public school district could be profound.

Natchez-Adams schools Superintendent Frederick Hill estimated the district might lose approximately $1.5 million if one of the three charter school applications for the county is approved.

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Hill’s estimate comes from calculating the per pupil expenditures for the Natchez-Adams district and applying it to the hopeful charter schools’ enrollment goals.

The solution, Hill told school board members, is to improve the district to the point at which no one would want to join a charter school.

We hope Hill’s efforts prove successful, both for the sake of the students in the community, but also taxpayers.

While charter schools have populist favor at the moment, they may also have the unintended consequence of siphoning off the best students from already struggling school districts.

The result could leave the remaining students as the responsibility of the existing public schools with dwindling funds with which to operate. That may end up raising taxes on already overburdened taxpayers.

Supporters of charter schools argue it’s simply allowing the taxpayer’s money to go toward successful schools.

But it also might simply be putting more of a financial choke hold on districts already struggling to survive.

Time will tell whether or not charter schools ultimately prove successful, but in the meantime, the transition process could be a painful redistribution of educational dollars.