« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

3 posts from February 2010

February 17, 2010

Database Alert: DOE Spending Over the Past Decade

To help to put New York City education budget cuts in context, we have compiled a database of historical budget data available on the DOE's website. Included in our spreadsheet are some preliminary calculations, charts, decade comparisons, and yearly data that break down the DOE’s spending according to five main categories. 

Overall DOE Budget Breakdown, 2007-2008
Some preliminary findings:

Total spending per pupil — the total budget divided by total enrollment — grew 48 percent since 1999, adjusted for inflation. Total enrollment declined over the same period by 6 percent. The chart below shows the spending each year (unadjusted for inflation): 

Total Spending Per Pupil, 1999-2008
The portion of the budget that grew by the largest percentage was total leadership and supervision compensation. The amount paid out to principals increased by 103 percent, adjusted for inflation, and the amount paid to assistant principals increased by 86 percent. This increase could be partially attributable to the proliferation of small schools during the Bloomberg administration which likely increased the number of administrators in the system. Overall, however, leadership makes up only 10 percent of all DOE funds that directly go to support schools.

Direct Services to Schools Breakdown

As always, we welcome comments and suggestions for future areas of exploration!

February 05, 2010

Charter School Management Fees

As the debate over the for-profit management company Victory Schools heats up, we reviewed the fees that some charter schools pay for management services, either to a for-profit Educational Management Organization (EMO) or to a non-profit Charter Management Organization (CMO). Using data available from the 2008-2009 fiscal audits, we found that 46 schools, or 60% percent of all charter schools, had some sort of CMO or EMO. Out of the 35 schools that actually paid for these services, the cost was, on average, $1,291, or 10 percent, per pupil.

Charters with a CMO paid an average of $986, or 7 percent of per pupil funds. EMO schools paid an average of $2,146, or 17 percent of per pupil funds— a $1,160 difference. To be clear, since different services are provided by different management groups and CMOs might subsidize their services with philanthropy, the amounts paid don’t necessarily indicate over-charging for services. A full spreadsheet, with a breakdown of the schools, philanthropy numbers, and explanatory notes, is available here.

While about 40 percent of all NYC charter schools are independent schools, the rest choose to enter into a contract with either an EMO or CMO for management services. Typically, these contracts stipulate the services that the management organization will provide in exchange for a fee, which is calculated as a percentage of the per-pupil funding that a school receives.

A typical arrangement is that of Uncommon Schools Inc, which charges a new charter school 10% of their per-pupil funds. In exchange, they provide charter application and start-up help, as well as accountability, budgeting, back office, legal, fund development, marketing, and educational services once the school is up and running.

Most schools that choose to have a management organization have a CMO. The rest, about 10 percent, use a for-profit company, generally Victory Schools, which dominates the market in New York City—operating 7 of the 9 EMO charters open in 2008-2009. This small number of EMO charters in New York City makes it difficult to make generalizations about the relative difference between EMO and CMO schools.

In 2008-2009, Harbor Sciences and Arts Charter School, a CMO school, and Peninsula Preparatory Academy, an EMO school, paid the most—23% of per pupil funding—for management services. Some schools, such as those run by the Harlem Children’s Zone and Harlem Village Academies, were not charged at all for CMO services.

February 01, 2010

Rewriting History

On Friday, the DOE announced changes to the much-maligned grading system for elementary and middle schools. Whereas last year more than 80 percent of schools received an A on their progress reports, this year the amount of schools that will be able to receive an A grade will be capped at 25 percent. The full breakdown is as follows:


Percentile Rank (out of all schools)


Above 75%


Between 45% and 75%


Between 15% and 45%


Between 5% and 15%


Below 5%

Curious to see how this would have affected last year’s scores, we applied the curve to the 2008-2009 Progress Report data available on the DOE’s website. Take a look and see who would have sunk and who would have stayed on top. Of particular note:

  1. 308 schools would have fallen from an A to a C
  2. Every single one of the six middle schools that the DOE has proposed for closure would have received     an F grade (they are highlighted in red in the spreadsheet)
  3. 28 schools would have gone from a B to an F. They are, in descending order of raw score:

·         I.S. X303 Leadership & Community Service

·         The Young Scholars Academy of The Bronx

·         P.S. 095 The Gravesend

·         Satellite Three

·         Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School

·         Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School

·         Young Women's Leadership School

·         P.S. 309 George E. Wibecan

·         P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier

·         Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change

·         The Michael J. Petrides School

·         Beginning With Children Charter School

·         P.S. 289 George V. Brower

·         Future Leaders Institute Charter School

·         P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente

·         Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice

·         P.S. 165 Ida Posner

·         P.S. 030 Queens

·         P.S. 132 Garret A. Morgan

·         P.S. 282 Park Slope

·         Harlem Children's Zone/Promise Academy II

·         Harlem Children's Zone/Promise Academy Charter School

·         P.S. 147 Isaac Remsen

·         P.S. 260 Breuckelen

·         East Bronx Academy for the Future

·         P.S./I.S. 137 Rachel Jean Mitchell

·         J.H.S. 125 Henry Hudson

·         I.S. 340


(Disclaimer: This is in no way intended to imply that these schools were deserving of the new grade they would have received under next year’s curve.)