Baltimore: Charter spending

The district plans to file a federal complaint challenging a ruling by the Maryland State Board of Education that requires school systems to provide the same per-pupil spending to charter and regular public schools, according to the May 11 Baltimore Sun. Baltimore Schools Chief Bonnie Copeland is asking other superintendents to support the fight. District officials say the ruling will take funding away from students in regular schools because the system would have to include all its revenue, including federal money intended solely for poor children, in its per-pupil calculations. With that formula, Baltimore might have to provide charters with up to $11,000 per pupil. Five new charters are slated to open in Baltimore this fall, while seven existing public schools want to convert to charters.

New Orleans: Privately managed

The Orleans Parish School Board voted 4-3 to give a private management company unprecedented financial control over the school system, including the power to hire and fire workers, appoint the district’s top financial managers and grant contracts, according to the May 24 Times-Picayune. The board’s three African American members voted against the move, saying it would disenfranchise citizens who elected them. The three white members and one Hispanic voted for the plan. The New York-based company, Alvarez and Marsal, was given a $16.8 million contract and will report directly to the state superintendent. The School Board will retain authority over academic decisions. In St. Louis, Alvarez and Marsal made drastic job cuts, closed some 20 schools and cut nearly $80 million from a $500 million budget.

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