The Madison School Board’s recent consideration of the Urban League’s application for a planning grant from DPI for the Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men prompted me to dig deeper into the issues the charter school proposal raises. I have several concerns – some old and some new – that are described below.
I apologize for the length of this post. It kind of turned into a data dump of all things Madison Prep.
Here are the seven areas of concern I have today about the Madison school district agreeing to sponsor Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter school.
1. The Expense.
As I have written, it looks like the roughly $14,500 per student that Madison Prep is seeking from the school district for its first year of operations is per nearly twice the per-student funding that other independent and non-instrumentality charter schools in the state now receive.
Independent charter schools, for example, receive $7,750 per-student annually in state funding and nothing from the local school district. As far as I can tell, non-instrumentality charter schools tend to receive less than $7,750 from their sponsoring school districts.
It seems that the Madison Prep proposal seeks to pioneer a whole new approach to charter schools in this state. The Urban League is requesting a much higher than typical per-student payment from the school district in the service of an ambitious undertaking that could develop into what amounts to a shadow Madison school district that operates at least a couple of schools, one for boys and one for girls. (If the Urban League eventually operates a girl’s school of the same size as projected for Madison Prep, it would be responsible for a total of 840 students, which is a larger total enrollment than about 180 school districts in Wisconsin can claim.)
What about the argument that Madison Prep does not propose to spend any more on a per-student basis than the Madison school district already spends? There are a couple of responses. First, MMSD does not spend $14,500 per student on in-school operations – i.e., teachers, classroom support, instructional materials. The figure is more like $11,000. But this is not the appropriate comparison.
Much more on the proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy, here.