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November 24, 2020
               
CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING GAP GROWS

Inequity Surges in the Cities for the Largest Gap Ever
The University of Arkansas (UA) has updated a major study on revenue disparities between charter schools and traditional public schools (TPS) in 18 urban centers. The study’s dismaying data includes:  
  • In 2017-2018, public charter schools received an average of $7,796 less per-pupil than TPS — the largest funding disparity ever discovered by UA's research team – which represents a funding gap of 33 percent.
  • Across eight cities with longitudinal data back to 2003, the overall funding gap favoring TPS more than doubled in real terms since 2003 and grew by 28 percent since 2016.
  • Across 14 cities with data back to 2013, the overall funding gap favoring TPS grew 26 percent since 2013 and widened by 28 percent since 2016. 
Researchers say a dearth of education funding from local sources was most responsible for the charter school funding gap. Charters also received 37 percent less in federal dollars per pupil than TPS. The 18 urban areas that primarily informed the study include Atlanta, Boston, Camden, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C. The entire report can be accessed here: Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities, November 2020; Scott McClallen, New Study Finds Detroit Charter Schools Receive 29% Less Per Pupil Than Traditional Public Schools, The Center Square, November 20, 2020

                       
THE MARKET IS EVOLVING ON CONTINUING DISCLOSURE

Helping the Charter School Investment Community Keep Up in the "New Normal" 
If you financed or invested in a school building with charter school bonds, or are seeking funding for a facility, you might want to invest some time in understanding the type of continuing disclosure lenders expect in this time of uncertainty. Arthur Mitchell, Executive Director of Philadelphia's STEM Equity Alliance, is this week's featured speaker. Click here to get his perspective on COVID, distance learning, and the effects of a renewed emphasis on social justice in the charter schools he works with. Arthur's report comes from the neighborhoods of Philadelphia as part of the “School Improvement Partnership News Hour: News You Can Use.

                               
NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT FOR NORTH CAROLINA  

Pro-Charter Candidate Wins After Being Outspent 6-1
Despite hefty contributions to her opponent from the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and the Democratic Party, Republican Catherine Truitt has won the race for the state’s top education job. Notwithstanding its own spending during the election, NCAE bloggers inundated social media with articles and posts attacking Truitt’s campaign donations. Immediately after she captured roughly 51 percent of the vote, NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly tweeted: “Nothing Catherine Truitt could say shows me that she’s dedicated to putting students and educators first.” North Carolina has doubled the number of its charter schools since the GOP-led General Assembly lifted the 100-school cap in 2011. Truitt “unapologetically” supports both charters and vouchers, but believes vouchers should be limited to families at 150 percent of the poverty line. Dr. Terry Stoops, Teacher Union Bloggers Attack Truitt as Mangrum Campaign Falters, John Locke Foundation, October 29, 2020; Greg Childress, State Superintendent-elect Catherine Truitt: Where She Stands on Charters, the Board and the NCAE, NC Policy Watch, November 19, 2020
 
                                 
CHARTER-SUPPORTING BEAUTY QUEEN WINS LAS VEGAS SCHOOL BOARD SEAT
Assistant Executive Director of the NEA Wins Another
Four of the seven Clark County School District (CCSD) trustee seats were contested in 2020. CCSD includes Las Vegas and educates the vast majority of Nevada’s children. Board President Lola Brooks, who works at a state-sponsored independent charter school, managed to hang on to her seat. The winners of three open seats are: Lisa Guzman, assistant executive director of the NEA; Katie Williams, a former Ms. Nevada and an enthusiastic school choice proponent; and Evelyn Garcia Morales, who serves on the board of directors at Nevada Prep charter school. Staff, Election 2020 Results: Board of Regents, Board of Education and School Board, KTNV 13, November 16, 2020;  David K. Li & Jareen Imam, Ms. Nevada Stripped of Her Crown. She Says its for Supporting Trump, NBC News, August 21, 2019
                 
ANGRY PARENTS PULL NO PUNCHES

Long Island Charter School & Church Fight Over a Shared Driveway 
For years, Academy Charter School (ACS) students in Hempstead Village, NY have used a driveway to walk between the school’s two campuses. Now, ACS’s neighbor, Faith Baptist Church, has filed suit to prove it owns the land, because it plans to demolish the church and build a 230 unit apartment complex between the two school buildings. Parents are furious, saying resulting “traffic and chaos” will endanger students. To make their point, they held a “vigil” with protestors holding large eyeballs that demanded transparency and full community involvement in reviewing a proposal they say is being fast tracked by influential developers and lobbyists. Village Mayor Don Ryan met with a delegation from the school, but said it will be up to the local zoning board to decide who wins the disagreement. Academy Parents Meet Mayor Ryan After Vigil, Patch, November 17, 2020; Kristen Thorne, Long Island Church Sues Charter School Neighbor Over Student Walk-Thru, ABC News 7, October 30, 2020
                      
HOLISTIC CARE & EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
A Mother's Experience Sparks New, Specialized Charter School
A Texas mother who battled to provide effective education and support for her autistic son is working with “Thrive With Autism” to establish a new charter school that will serve students with the disability. Elizabeth Goldsmith will model the school after “Els for Autism” in Jupiter, Florida. Els incorporates Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, considered by many experts as the gold standard treatment for autism, into an academic setting. ABA is a data-driven therapy that breaks down skills and teaches using prompting procedures coupled with positive reinforcement. “They created a one-stop-shop approach, offering onsite recreation activities after school, and therapies such as speech, occupational therapy, and feeding therapies. Right now, parents have to pick up their children after school and drive them around town to needed therapies,” Goldsmith said. Thrive’s school, to be located in Magnolia, will do the same. According to the CDC, one in 54 children is diagnosed with autism. For more information, visit Thrive With Autism Foundation at www.thrivewautism.org. James Fredricks, Autism Foundation Plans Meeting for New Charter School, Woodlands Online, November 18, 2020
               
School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. As continuing disclosure agent for more than 40 schools in six states, we enhance the form and content of secondary market information for charter school bond investors. On behalf of such investors, School Improvement Partnership performs comprehensive evaluations of charter school borrowers in transition - both pre-investment and post-investment. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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