DPS doesn’t get funding for charter school enrollment growth
The 2014-15 budget adopted by county commissioners Monday does not include a school district request for $716,000 to offset a projected increase of more than 300 new students expected to enroll in local charter schools this fall.
School officials had asked for the extra money so that enrollment growth in charter schools would not have a deleterious budgetary impact on Durham Public Schools’ students.
This year, the school district will pass through about $15 million in local funding to 10 charter schools – an 11th is expected to open in August – now operating in Durham County.
The school district will receive an additional $630,000 in local funding, courtesy of the quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2011 to benefit public education.
The school district’s portion of the sales tax is projected at $7.7 million next school year.
“We’re appreciative of any new money,” said Aaron Beaulieu, the school district’s chief financial officer. “We would have liked to have the $716,000 [for charter school enrollment growth] as well.”
Beaulieu said the school district, which is expecting an enrollment increase of nearly 350 students, will have to consider a reduction in services to its students to cover the cost of enrollment growth in charter schools.
“We asked for the additional money for charter school enrollment growth because we felt like we needed it,” Beaulieu said. “Funding that growth should not come at the expense of our student attending Durham Public Schools.”
School officials have asked county officials to work with the district to develop a funding formula that provides more certainty in the coming years.
Including, the $7.7 million in quarter-cent sales tax, local funding for Durham Public Schools will amount to roughly $120 million of the school district’s $408 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.
School board Vice Chairwoman Minnie Forte Brown said she was disappointed that commissioners didn’t come up with the request for additional money for charter school enrollment growth.
“I don’t know what their thinking was,” Forte-Brown said. “We only asked them to pay for charter school enrollment growth. The commissioners have been good to us and they have promised to take care of our educational needs. Hopefully, they’ll stand by that.”
Nearly 5,100 students are expected to enroll in charter schools next school year, 300 more than the 4,785 who enrolled in charter schools last school year.
Meanwhile, DPS is expecting enrollment to climb by about 350 students to 33,650 compared to 33,296 the previous year.
Beaulieu said the school district is still waiting to see how the state budget will impact Durham Public Schools.
He said the state Senate’s budget proposal would cost the school district about $8 million, while the governor’s budget proposal and the proposal put forth by the House are more in line with what the school district has proposed in its $408 million.