Report: SDUSD loses millions of dollars every year to charter schools

There are more than 1,200 charter schools in CA
Posted at 6:09 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 22:39:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new report says San Diego Unified School District is losing nearly $66 million a year due to the exploding number of charter schools.

School districts receive funding per student. The report by the organization, In the Public Interest, found SDUSD loses nearly $4,913 a year per charter school student, largely due to costs that cannot be reduced when a student goes to a charter school. SDUSD is the second-largest district in California.

There are about 120 charter schools in San Diego County. Roughly 50 of those schools are in the SDUSD. Elva Barajas’ son attends a local charter school.

“I liked what they were offering for the students. There were smaller classrooms… less than 25 kids in the classroom. It was more individualized for the students,” Barajas said.

Miriam Rodriguez’s daughters go to traditional schools within SDUSD.

“At the end of the day, the schools are in my community,” Rodriguez said.

The report, called "Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools to Public School District," analyzed three California school districts including San Diego.

Superintendent Cindy Marten and SDUSD trustee Richard Barrera argued that local districts need more control over school charter decisions. Barrera said district leaders need to ask critical questions, including fiscal impact. Currently, he said they are not allowed to do so.

“What is it bringing to the table, what is it adding to the mix of schools… but also, what is it taking away?” Barrera said.

Michelle Anderson, Regional Manager for the California Charter Schools Association, said districts already have enough oversight. 

“This is really a misrepresentation of issues that came through from a report that was paid for by special interests. Charter schools are really not the bad guys in this issue,” Anderson said.

Both sides agree that education funding goes beyond this particular issue, although they differ in the impact of charter schools. About 18 percent of students that live within SDUSD attend charter schools.