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PAUSD Board votes to pay Los Altos Charter School

Original post made by Someone who doesn't understand, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007

According to the PA Weekly Home Page, PAUSD Board has agreed to pay Bullis Charter School a per pupil fee if PA students decide to attend that school and if Los Altos becomes basic aid like us. I do not understand the ramifications of this, particularly with the looming of a Charter School here, but it sounds like a lot of money going out of the District when we need every penny we have. Does this mean that Los Altos would pay us for any of their students we educate in a Charter School here (if we have one) or is it just a case of Palo Alto loosing money to "the system" yet again?

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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2007 at 10:53 am

Well, you have this slightly skewed. Los Altos already is a basic aid district but whether it is, or isn't, the agreement is only in force for as long as either of the two districts remain basic aid districts.

The charter laws provide state compenstation to basic aid school districts that host charter schools, for the districts per pupil expenditures for out of district students that come from Revenue Limit districts. In other words, if a kid from San Jose Unified comes to Bullis, Los Altos District gets refunded for the cost of that student. But they don't get the refunds for students that come from Basic Aid Districts.

So under the charter law, if a kid from PAUSD goes to Bullis, Los Altos has to pay for that kid out of its own basic aid tax dollars, and doesn't get any compensation for that.

So basic aid districts that are forced to house a charter school (like PAUSD will be forced by PACE to host MI Charter) end up footing the cost of students that come from other basic aid districts.

Basic aid districts can protect themselves (and eachother) from this effect with reciprocal agreements.

The reciprocal agreement between two basic aid districts, protects the charter school district from having to fund a lot of out of town students with their own budget.

Basic aid districts are required to go out on their own (one district a time) and set up reciprocal agreements with each basic aid district they want, which say each district will pay for their own students, if those students end up in the other's charter schools.

This is totally fair and cost neutral to each district in the agreement - because they are basic aid district. They pay for their own kids out of their own tax dollars. The tax dollars stay with the kid.

Yes, since we have some PAUSD kids in Bullis, we'll reimburse Los Altos school district - we'd otherwise be paying for them anyway. Its Fair.

But the really important thing is that Los Altos will reimburse PAUSD for any Los Altos students that sign up for an MI charter in PAUSD.

This agreement is actually a very prudent protective measure for PAUSD to protect us from negative impact a Mandarin Immersion charter could have if it draws significantly from Los Altos district.

It is very instructive that Camille Townsend and Grace Mah (both vocal supporters of the MI program, with Grace now leading the MI charter effort) were adamantly opposed to the agreement.

Why? Because it removes a good part of the LEVERAGE they are counting on. It lessens the harm that an MI charter could cause to PAUSD, which hurts their 'negotiation' leverage with the board. They would prefer it if the MI charter was a huge financial threat, so that they could get the board to back down on their MI Choice decision.

I am willing to be that they had a large number of Los Altos residents on their charter petition. This neutralizes that effect for them.

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Posted by John L
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 8, 2007 at 11:10 am

Board Observer,

Thank you for a fantastic, clear and unemotional explanation of this complex issue. I for one very much appreciate it.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2007 at 5:02 pm

I'm curious, what was Mah's ostensible reason for opposing the reimbursement? Did she say? I mean if she really does want an MI charter, I'd think she'd be in favor of a reciprocal agreement that would lessen the potential financial harm to the district.

So, yep, back to charter-school threat as leverage.

Isn't there some plan to move Bullis charter to the Bullis-Purissma site in LAH at some point? At which point, it becomes a very attractive option to LAH residents who are in the PAUSD. And wasn't there some effort to make Bullis a little more open to PAUSD students who live in LAH?

Basically, Bullis is a charter that's meant to replace a neighborhood school.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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