Remember the $629 million budget gap the School District walked into Council with this spring? It was only part of the story. The district's budget gap was only $629 million if a couple of things happened: 1) The schools got $75 million in concessions from its unions -- that hasn't happened yet; 2) the schools got $57 million in charter reimbursements from the state. That appears to not be happening: The budget passed by the State Senate last night eliminates charter school reimbursements entirely.
What are charter school reimbursements? Basically, they're an acknowledgement that when a student goes from a public school to a charter school and takes per-pupil funding with her, she leaves some cost behind. As the Daily News said last month:
Every child who leaves a traditional public school does not also take a fraction of a teacher or part of the school building he's leaving. Ultimately, a district educating fewer students will spend less, but building consolidation and staff downsizing takes time.
(Full disclosure: I'm married to a Philadelphia charter school teacher.)
There are a number of issues surrounding the state's push for more charter schools. Being unrealistic about their cost doesn't seem like a great way to start resolving them -- so that's a bad job by the state.
Having said that, if this money isn't coming, the fact that the school district made this assumption doesn't paint a pretty picture about the schools' fiscal planning, either.
UPDATE: Kristen Graham reports that when the district subtracts the $57 million, then adds $22 million from an Accountability Block Grant, it winds up with a new $35 million shortfall.