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City's charter enrollment surpasses 67,000; many charters exceed enrollment caps

By Paul Socolar on Feb 4, 2014 04:40 PM

New data released by the School District on Tuesday show that charter enrollment in Philadelphia has swelled to 67,315 students, which is more than one-third of all K-12 students in public schools. 

More than 1,500 of those students are enrolled in excess of enrollment caps for individual schools. Twenty charters are 10 or more students over their enrollment caps.

Four charters have more than 100 students in excess of their caps, led by Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter, where the District reports an enrollment of 1,302 despite an enrollment cap of 675.

The District has attempted to make those caps enforceable by writing them into its charter agreements. But this has not prevented the state from paying some charters directly for students enrolled in excess of the caps.

[Update:] A District spokesperson said Walter D. Palmer and four other charters have been billing the state for enrollment in excess of the caps. Other charters have not tried to secure payment from the state for more than the authorized numbers of students.

The four are Delaware Valley, Discovery, KIPP Philadelphia, and Richard Allen Preparatory. Combined with Walter D. Palmer, they have enrolled more than 1,000 students beyond their approved numbers.

The unexpected growth in charter enrollment -- which is partially attributable to schools exceeding their caps -- is projected to put the District about $25 million over its $675 million budget for charter payments this year, not counting transportation costs. 

The District's overall budget situation, including charter costs, will be the subject of a report at the Feb. 20 School Reform Commission meeting. No SRC action is required at the meeting. Charter costs and special education costs have been the two big challenges to keeping this year's District budget in balance, according to Matthew Stanski, the District's chief financial officer. [End update]

Another striking fact from the District's charter enrollment report is that more than 30 of the city's charters -- including many of the charters that boast high test scores -- have enrollments substantially below their enrollment caps. In all, the city's underenrolled charters could take in 8,000 more students if they were to fill up to their authorized limit.

For example, Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter is authorized to to serve 2,525 students and has only 1,425 students enrolled, according to District data. Mastery Charter's Lenfest campus has been approved to serve 1,200 students but currently has 555.

Citywide, the District's report says there are just over 60,000 students in brick-and-mortar charters, 15,000 of those being in Renaissance charters -- neighborhood schools placed under outside management to lead a school-turnaround effort. That total is up more than 5,000 students from last school year.

And 7,100 Philadelphia students are in cyber charters.

The District anticipates spending $700 million on charter school payments this school year, according to spokesperson Fernando Gallard.

The per pupil payment from the District to each charter is $8,597 for each regular education student, and $22,242 for each special education student. In all, there are 57,935 regular education students enrolled in charters and 9,920 special education students.



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Comments (19)

Submitted by Christopher Paslay (not verified) on February 4, 2014 5:59 pm
The most blatant abuse from a charter school is the school opened by Philadelphia Principal Dom Rossetti, who opened the World Peace Charter School that was actually a front for notorious South Philly mobster Tony Genitaglia. They are under investigation by the FBI and are supposedly embezzling the money to fund a strip club in Baltimore called "Straight A's." Read about it here: Unbelievable.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 4, 2014 8:51 pm
The title of this article should be: "Charters save District over $68 milllion this year by enrolling 8,000 less students then they were asked to" Because no charter school has been opened here without the District ASKING for proposals and then APPROVING them.
Submitted by tom-104 on February 4, 2014 10:21 pm
Uhhh...did you read the link to the comment that your comment is connected to?? Did the SRC approve of charters that are connected to mobsters and strip clubs??
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 4, 2014 6:26 pm
Silly mindless nonsense. The District has NOT really tried to do anything to stop this practice and all thinking people know it. The State and The District are both doing the bidding of the corporate elite as is Nutter and The SRC, of course. Unless the people with a conscience, stop this blatant abuse, Democracy in all inner cities , will cease to exist.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 4, 2014 7:49 pm
Sounds encouraging. Parents and students continue to choose charter schools. The competitive environment will strengthen the system.
Submitted by tom-104 on February 4, 2014 7:47 pm
No, it will continue to drain the public schools of resources until we once again have a segregated school system based on family income.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 5, 2014 9:18 am
Why are there caps on neighborhood schools? If a Renaissance charter has the capacity to serve more kids in the neighborhood, why should they be sent to another neighborhood with a lower-quality school? Oh right, because it's not about what's best for kids and families, it's about what's best for saving the drowning district.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on February 5, 2014 12:04 pm
Audenreid (Universal) will claim a "cap" when it wants to deny entry or get rid of a student. Audenreid also claims it can only take 9th and 10th graders. Some Renaissance Charters use the cap to their advantage.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on February 5, 2014 12:29 pm
Audenreid (Universal) has a "selective" cap - when they don't want to admit or they want to get rid of a student, they claim they have a "cap." Audenreid also will not admit students who are juniors or seniors. A neighborhood school has to admit everyone. So, caps are for the "convenience" of the charter.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2014 6:11 am
I would like to know what enrollment caps renaissance charters must adhere to. I teach kindergarten in a public school. Right now I have 29 students and no aide. If a child wants to enroll now, my school will accept him or her since I can have up to 30. We have received several children from Renaissance schools who say they are full. Do they accept up to 30? Do they have aides? I want all my students to be successful but I feel like I am being set up to fail them.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on February 5, 2014 12:26 pm
Walter Palmer CS was "excused" from blatant cheating on the PSSA by Corbett. It is NOT a "high performing" school. It rakes in the bucks by over enrolling. There was a concerted effort by some charters to take students from public schools last year. (Look at what happened at Sheppard Elementary. Once it was listed for closure, Congresso went after the students. Sheppard's community organized and fought to stay open.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 9, 2014 10:40 pm
Does anyone know the profit margin that these charters receive? For example if the charters profit margin is 20%, the end result is approx. 140 million dollars of the taxpayers money not going back into the schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 9, 2014 11:37 pm
What does it matter? They are already providing a better service at a lower cost than the district schools. They are saving us money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 9, 2014 11:52 pm
Charters are costing more than public schools. "Figures don't lie, but liars figure".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 9, 2014 11:19 pm
Do you have any idea what CEO's of charters are paid??
Submitted by Tyler.Y on February 10, 2014 5:55 am
That does sound encouraging. What a great amount of students.




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Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on February 10, 2014 8:10 am
Not only do we have a charter school that funded strip clubs, but we have a charter school that funded an Islamic movement in Turkey. Truebright was founded by the Gulen movement which has schools across the country. Those who make blanket statements that charters are better than public schools simply have no idea what is going on or are part of the scam.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on February 10, 2014 8:05 am
Also, everyone should read today's editorial in the Daily News, "Control Issues" to see how charters illegally swindle the school district of funding. It is all about the commercialization for profit of publicly funded education.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 10, 2014 9:28 am
So if only four charters are billing for the students enrolled over the cap, that means charters are educating several hundred students for free. Sounds like they are following their mission of serving district families at the expense of maximizing their own revenues. I guess that really annoys the unions here.

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