school-costs-300x174-3275606Charter schools sharing space in New York City public school buildings cost less to operate than traditional public schools, counter to the findings of a 2010 research memo from the Independent Budget Office (IBO), according to a white paper issued today by a research group affiliated with former state comptroller candidate and financial advisor Harry Wilson.  (Full disclosure: I was among those asked, before the report’s release, to comment on its methodology.)

The report by Wilson and his colleague Jonathan Trichter takes issue with an IBO Fiscal Briefconcluding that charter schools operating in public school buildings actually spent slightly more per pupil– $16,660 vs. $16,001 for traditional city public schools as of 2010.

IBO’s calculations “were incomplete, primarily because they did not take into account the full extent of long-term liabilities associated with district public schools, namely pension and post-retirement healthcare obligations,” or OPEB, said the report, issued by Wilson’s non-profit research organization, Save Our States.

A summary of the Wilson-Trichter findings:

* Taking into account the present value of just pension obligations for district public schools adds $5,181 to $5,642 in per-pupil costs, whereas the IBO only accounted for $2,132 of those costs. So the total per pupil support for district public schools would be between $19,060 and $19,521.

* Taking into account the present value of OPEBs adds an additional $762 per pupil for district public schools, resulting in total support per pupil of $19,822 to $20,283.

Wilson’s findings are especially timely, given mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s desire to collect rent from publicly funded charter schools “co-located” in public school buildings.

IBO’s response, as quoted in today’s New York Post:

“Our report reflected what the city actually paid. We don’t know what the city will owe down the line,” said IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky.

Yes, but … just because the city doesn’t correctly calculate a current cost for OPEB doesn’t mean the number is unknowable.  Since OPEB is contractually promised to the vast majority of city workers, the redoubtable number-crunchers at IBO really should to settle on a methodology for assessing the net present value of those benefits in future comparative cost analyses.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Do NY families have school choice?

Organizations across New York and the country last week observed to raise awareness of the educational pathways that exist outside of residentially-assigned public school systems. But what does Read More

Another Reason to Lift the Charter Cap

A staff shortage in upstate hospitals prompted , where hospital officials and state lawmakers asked that more funding to train medical professionals be included in January’s state bu Read More

Nation’s Report Card Paints Bleak Picture for New York

Results are in for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card. They paint a bleak picture for New York. Read More

The Plan To Kill New York’s Charter Schools 

New York’s statewide teachers union is providing a glimpse of its strategy to shrink and potentially eliminate New York’s charter schools. Read More

The Reality Behind the Regents Diploma

The New York State Board of Regents lowered the threshold to pass Regents examinations from a 65 to a 50 in order to ‘satisfy diploma requirements’ for the academic years disrupted by the pandemic. Read More

The Dog Ate NYSED’s Homework 

A state agency is refusing to release exam results revealing the nature and extent of Covid learning loss among New York schoolchildren. Read More

NY Pandemic Learning Loss Data Under Wraps 

Nationwide test results revealing major pandemic learning loss have been front page news this month. Read More

Judge, Jury and … CFO?

A state court judge at a hearing this morning will consider whether to interfere with New York City authority over its own budget by ordering a preliminary injunction that ices a portion of Gotham’s recently enacted FY 23 city budget. Read More

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!