Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Charter costs and West Meck suspensions

A caller raised a good question about this morning's story on per-pupil costs at charter schools serving Mecklenburg students.  He correctly noted that charters don't get public money for buildings,  while Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools gets construction and renovation money through county-issued bonds.  The caller suspected that would skew the per-pupil spending reported on the N.C. school report cards.

I'm not sure there's ever a perfect apples-to-apples comparison,  but the state does not include capital expenses   --  that is, building and renovation  --  in the per-pupil tally for charters or traditional public schools,  so it should be a reasonably close comparison of spending on education  (or at least school operating expenses).

While we're scrutinizing numbers,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has issued a correction to some eye-popping suspension numbers from West Mecklenburg High that were reported at last week's school board meeting.

As part of a staff report on discipline and other issues at schools that saw major changes in enrollment,  CMS initially said West Meck had 2,452 suspensions during the first half of 2010-11  --  with an enrollment just under 2,200  --  and 1,482 with a slightly smaller student body this year.  A corrected report issued last week  (while I was taking a few days off, thus the delay in reporting)  amends that to 1,226 last year and 741 this year, exactly half of what was presented to the board.

The email from CMS Communications Director Tahira Stalberte noting the revisions does not address the source of the error.

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