The absurdity of expanding charter schools in Texas while under-funding school districts has come to a head in Galveston, where Galveston ISD and the KIPP charter chain are severing ties. The reason, according to the Houston Chronicle, is that the school district can no longer afford KIPP.
Under a contract with the district, KIPP has been operating two campuses in Galveston ISD with about 900 students combined. The district this year paid KIPP $5.5 million for the two schools, about $1.5 million more than it would have spent on those students if they had been attending traditional, district-run schools. That means the district has been spending about $1,600 less per year for each student not enrolled in KIPP, which is most Galveston ISD students.
The KIPP schools will finish this school year but reopen in August as regular Galveston ISD campuses.
“It became kind of an equity issue,” Galveston Superintendent Larry Nichols told the Chronicle. “I’m a fan of KIPP, but we’ve got to live within the budget.”
KIPP schools have a longer school day and year, but they were taking money away from most of the district’s enrollment, children whose parents proportionately pay the same taxes as KIPP parents.
Galveston and hundreds of other school districts are still feeling the effects of the $5.4 billion in school budget cuts that the legislative majority imposed in 2011, because lawmakers restored only part of the funding last year. And, instead of holding the line on charter schools, the legislative majority raised the ceiling on an expensive experiment.