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Charter School Philanthropy 2009

In a post last spring, Ken reviewed some philanthropy statistics for New York City charter schools. This post reviews the updated statistics based on the 2008-2009 audited financial statements for 77 charter schools and adds a new comparison: the difference in philanthropy for charters schools that have non-profit Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) versus those who don’t. In this analysis, we found that schools with CMOs take in at least $1,734 per pupil in philanthropic dollars, versus $994 per pupil in non-CMO schools — a $740 difference. We’ve summarized the rest of our results below, but you can see all of our calculations in this workbook.

The total amount of philanthropic contributions to the 77 schools was $31,302,550. The total enrollment was 23,715. (Enrollment information was taken from the 2008-2009 Learning Environment Survey data, which seems to have the most comprehensive information.) This comes out to a per pupil contribution of $1,320 — a 9 percent drop from the 2007-2008 audits, which showed a per pupil contribution of $1,443.

At the school level, the numbers were basically unchanged from last year. The average school philanthropy per pupil was $1,651 in 2007-2008 compared to $1,654 and the median school philanthropy per pupil was $1,092 compared to $1,081.

Many more schools had per-pupil decreases in philanthropy than increases. Thirty-one schools, or 53 percent, lost money per pupil in 2008-2009. Twelve schools, or 21 percent, gained money per pupil. Fifteen schools did not have significant changes in per-pupil philanthropy. (We used $100 per pupil as a cutoff for “significant.”)

In order to get a more complete picture, we decided to look at schools that did not have Charter Management Organizations (CMOs), since the amount of philanthropy that a given school benefits from could be understated depending on the philanthropic donations that were given to the larger CMO. We will have a post on CMO philanthropy in the future.

There were 44 schools in 2008-2009 that did not have a CMO (these schools were either Community Grown Organizations (CGOs) or had for-profit Educational Management Organizations (EMOs)). The total amount of philanthropic contributions for these schools was $13,188,546 and the total enrollment was 13,267. This comes out to a per pupil calculation of $994 — almost exactly the same for the 33 non-CMO schools in 2007-2008, which had a per pupil contribution of $1,000. The percentage of schools that lost money, gained money, or stayed the same per pupil was the same as the data with the CMO charters included. For schools that had a CMO, their per pupil philanthropy came out to $1,734, which is $740 more than charter schools without CMOs.

To be clear, these calculations do not take into account the value of the space that is sometimes granted by the DOE but they do include in-kind donations and restricted funds. (Although charter schools, like traditional public schools, receive certain services free of charge from the DOE, we don’t consider this philanthropy, nor is it reflected in the schools’ financial statements.) Like we did last year, we included the money collected during fundraising events but did not subtract out fundraising expenses.

Here are some additional notes:

1. We subtracted out KIPP to College costs because these amounts are not used for current students. This is their alumni program.

2. We averaged across KIPP and Achievement First schools for per pupil philanthropy. These schools route disproportionate amounts of their philanthropy through one school.

3.We removed The New York Center for Autism.

As always, we encourage feedback!

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.