If just 1-in-10 parents pull their kids out of private schools to save their family money it will cost the public schools in South Carolina $75 million.
Families in South Carolina are tightening their budgets.
They are looking closely at their monthly spending, trying to find places to cut back.
Some parents with children in private schools are thinking seriously about pulling their kids out -even just for a year or two- and having them attend public schools.
But the real fiscal impact of K-12 education transfers will be felt by the public schools -and the taxpayers who fund them.
This year over 66,000 students are attending private schools in South Carolina.
If a mere 1-in-10 private school parents decided to enroll their children in a local public school that would require $75,768,000.00 in new public school spending. This cost is based on the $11,480 per student allocation listed in the Legislature’s 2008-09 budget.
But it gets worse.
The legislature’s $11,480 per child estimates are based on a messy combination of local, state and federal revenue streams. It works out to $5,516 local, $4,867 state and $1,097 federal per child.
The problem is that all the federal money ($1,097 per child) and half of the state money ($2,384) is allocated to the local school districts through programatic grants and categorical funding. Since money is not tied to the child, the addition of new students to a classroom doesn’t correspond to any additional funding from these sources.
Likewise, the local money, averaging $5,516, is a function of local taxpaying ability, determined by the total assessed value of taxable property in the district.
In all, upwards of $8,900.00 of the per-student public school spending in 2008-09 is allocated to schools and districts programatically, which means the in-coming private school transfers would bring a corresponding $2,500 per student in new funding, despite their $11,4800 “cost” to the districts.
And this is still not the whole story.
The $11,480 figure does not include local bond revenues and other money for capital spending. An influx of 6,000 plus students would require a significant expansion classroom capacity, with a further cost of millions of dollars to state and local taxpayers.
For years parents and community leaders have been arguing for school choice based on their concerns about social justice for low-income families and educational effectiveness. Now, with tightening public and private budgets, some once skeptical lawmakers are looking to school choice as a way to ensure that public schools don’t see a big loss in per-student funding as the economy worsens.