QOD: Chris Cerf Discusses School Funding Gaps in Newark While Praising Charter Schools for "Beating the Odds"

Yesterday Newark Superintendent Chris Cerf gave his annual report to the N.J. State Board of Education and, according to the Star-Ledger, honed in on fiscal concerns.  When he took over from Cami Anderson, the district had a $63 million deficit; now it's down to $12 million. 

Newark receives  $715,271,519 in state aid for the 2015-2016 school year.  The rest of its annual operating budget of $856,553,675 comes from local taxes and federal grant.

The Ledger recounts Cerf's discussion of his discovery that "as many as 4,500 additional children now attend both city public and charter schools than in 2011, all while state funding has remained flat." This budgetary stress is compounded, he said, "by a provision inserted into this year's budget that slightly eased per-pupil cuts to Newark charters in order to avoid potentially 'catastrophic' effects on their ability to operate. The measure, he said, put further stress on traditional public schools in a city where many school buildings are more than a century old."
A noted advocate of education reform, he was careful to discourage the kind of public vs. charter debate that has often proven chaotic in Newark, but encouraged the state to further examine how funding was distributed. 
"It's fabulous that so many charter schools are beating the odds. That's what we should care about...but the economics of that have not been thought through," he said.

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