NJ Charters & Disability Rates

Posted on November 2, 2009

Here’s a quick snapshot of the percent of children classified as having disabilities in Charter schools and in Traditional Public Schools in Essex County. These figures add some context to the spending deficit figures in my previous post. Yes, Charters receive a reduced operating aid subsidy. Charters are most disadvantaged financially by not receiving support for facilities, and having to draw on operating funds for facility leases, or receive substantial private support. But, this piece – special education populations- cuts the other way. Traditional public school districts have about 14% to 18% children with disabilities, which typically run about 90% to 110% above “average” expenditure (to provide typical – not necessarily adequate or great – special education services). For example, if 16% of children qualified as disabled and required additional per pupil expenditure of 100% each, these students would add 16% total cost onto district operating costs – or $1,920 over $12,000 for an average per pupil cost of $13,920. That is – just to provide average/typical special education services – the per pupil cost in a district with 16% special ed would be 16% above the per pupil cost of a district with 0% special ed. In other words, if a district with 16% special ed spends $13,920 and another with 0% special ed spends $12,000, those spending figures are comparable – not vastly different.

Here are the special ed rates among Essex county districts and charters:


Note: A knowledgeable reader has informed me that the “0” value for Greater Newark Charter is actually “missing data,” for that year and has assured me that Greater Newark Charter does indeed enroll children with disabilities. At some point, I may get around to updating these analyses. Other “0” values may also represent missing data. But, very low, actual reported rates likely do not.

Charter School Special Education Classification