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KIPP departs Galveston

I have two things to say about this.

The popular KIPP charter school chain is pulling out of Galveston, where it operates two campuses with about 900 students combined under a contract with the school district.

Because of statewide school funding cuts, Galveston ISD superintendent Larry Nichols said, the district has dipped into savings over the last few years to foot the bill. This is unfair to taxpayers and other Galveston students, Nichols said.

Galveston ISD paid KIPP $5.5 million this year – about $1.5 million more than it would have spent on those students in district-run schools.

“It became kind of an equity issue,” Nichols said. “I’m a fan of KIPP, but we’ve got to live within the budget.”

[…]

The Costal Village elementary and middle schools opened in the months following Hurricane Ike in 2008 to help draw families back to the island. After the contract was negotiated, the 6,800-student Galveston ISD lost $7.4 million in state funding for the biennium in 2011. About $1.7 million was restored by the Legislature last year, Nichols said.

“The original agreement was no longer workable after GISD had to live with quite a bit less money,” the superintendent said.

KIPP leaders said they couldn’t maintain their model, which includes a longer school day and year, for less money. The charter chain spends about $6,200 per student in Galveston, compared to Galveson ISD’s $4,623. And KIPP’s costs were higher earlier in the contract, officials said.

There’s no way to close a gap that large, leaders agreed.

“We kind of both said ‘uncle,’‚ÄČ” KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg said. “This doesn’t have any solution on the horizon.”

1. The failure of KIPP to stay in Galveston is a direct consequence of the $5.4 billion that was cut from public education in the 2011 budget, the failure to restore those cuts in 2013 despite a huge surplus, and the failure in general to adequately fund public education in Texas. Republicans own this failure, as they are the ones that are responsible for those cuts, even as they claim to be advocates for “school choice” and a greater role for charter schools in Texas. Dan Patrick, the Chair of the Public Education Committee in the Senate last session, owns this failure. Greg Abbott, who continues to defend the $5.4 billion cuts to public ed in court, owns this failure. Every Republican legislator that voted for the 2011 budget owns this failure. Every Republican legislator and candidate that isn’t advocating for restoring full funding to public education and doing whatever it takes to adequately and equitably fund it going forward owns this failure.

2. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how much better the rest of Galveston’s schools could be if they had received that extra $1600 per student that KIPP had been getting? Maybe now that GISD isn’t writing a check to KIPP it can take some of that money that it would have spent on KIPP and spend it on the rest of their students.

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