Department of Education publishes fiscal analysis of charter school expansion
Potential taxpayer savings of $62m-$178m over next decade
CONCORD- The New Hampshire Department of Education today published a long-term comprehensive modeling analysis of the taxpayer savings of expanded public charter schools in the Granite State. The study projects savings over the next decade under conservative, historic, and ambitious charter school growth. Even using the most conservative growth and savings estimates, New Hampshire taxpayers would save $62 million over the next decade. Total taxpayer savings with more ambitious growth could reach $178 million.
“Opponents of public charter schools pit them against traditional school districts. In fact, these start-up funds will be available to local school districts to find new ways to teach at-risk students using the flexibility and innovation of the charter school model,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who conducted the analysis using DOE statistics. “Public charter schools provide higher academic achievement at lower cost per pupil. The potential cost savings of opening up public charter schools to more New Hampshire students are tremendous.”
The study addresses how local school districts might adjust to a small percentage of students enrolling in public charter schools, and how districts can reduce costs.
“Recognizing that when one or even several students leave a traditional public school, that may not be enough of a reduction to allow the school to reduce associated cost quickly, the modeled scenarios afford schools long periods of time to adjust fixed costs.”
The reality of declining student enrollment is a factor that needs to be considered in any school finance modeling, irrespective of the proposed public charter school grant. Given the expectation of declining student enrollment, the department is recommending that all districts begin the conversation and planning relative to how they will manage costs in the coming decade to address the fact that there will be fewer students.
Edelblut has asked to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to consider the public charter school replication grant in light of this new analysis, hoping to break the partisan logjam at the State House over accepting a $46 million federal grant to replicate New Hampshire’s success with public charter schools for the benefit of at-risk students. Members of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee have rejected the grant, arguing that using federal start-up funds to open more charter schools would create a long-term financial obligation. Today’s analysis demonstrates that public charter schools could significantly lower the cost of providing the opportunity for an adequate education, since they operate at roughly half the per-pupil cost of traditional district schools.
“The purpose of this grant is to find new opportunities for students who are not thriving in a traditional school setting,” Edelblut added. “Expanding on our success with public charter schools would open up new paths for at-risk students, and provide tremendous cost savings for state and local taxpayers.”