When students attend a public charter school instead of a traditional public school, the funding of dollars shift every January.
Public charter schools receive payments from traditional public school districts their students reside in per MS Code 37-28-55(3).
Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School executive director Amanda Johnson reported the school received just below $500,000 in payments in January 2020, which comes to around $2,000 per child. The school has 246 students enrolled – 73 in kindergarten, 73 in first grade, 50 in second grade and 50 in third grade.
The majority of the money the school received came from the Clarksdale Municipal School District, which paid $252,465.72.
“We know the local taxes come out in January, so we know we expect it,” Johnson said. “We ended up using other funds or grants or even lines of credit to make sure that we’re good in the beginning of the year. It’s just the way that school funding often works out.”
Johnson said salary is the school’s biggest expense.
Last year, Johnson said the school received around $300,000 from traditional public schools, which came to $1,900 per child. However, Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School only enrolled kindergarteners through second graders in 2018-19.
Approximately 100 more kids are enrolled than last year. Another 75 kids will be added to the school as it enrolls kindergarteners through fourth graders in 2020-21.
The school plans to add a grade each year until it enrolls kindergarteners through eighth graders in 2024-25.
“If enrollment went down, then we would definitely have to revise our budget,” Johnson said. “So, if enrollment went down significantly, then our biggest expense is personnel. If our enrollment went down by 25, that’s a classroom. That means that’s a teacher.”
Another big expense Johnson mentioned was transportation. The school transport students outside of city of Clarksdale to towns such as Jonestown, Duncan and Friars Point.
“We run three different buses quite far, so transportation is also a big expense that a lot of charter schools don’t have,” Johnson said.
Johnson reported the school employs 38 individuals, including part-time bus drivers and kitchen staff. There were 25 employees in 2018-19.
“We made a pretty tremendous growth from last year to this year with the food service staff, another bus drive and another bus route,” Johnson said.
After the school is teaching kindergartners through eighth graders, Johnson said there should be approximately 50 employees. For that to happen, the school would have around 675 students, 27 home rooms and 10 instructional assistants.
According to Johnson’s report to the board, the retention rate since Oct. 1, 2019 is at 98.4 percent. It is 100 percent for kindergarten, 99 percent for first grade, 98 percent for second grade and 96.2 percent for third grade.
“We believe that retention of our scholars means that we’re doing something right,” Johnson said. “It is school choice, so kids choose to come here and stay. Families choose to come here and stay. That’s definitely a positive indicator for us with all of the things that are happening.”
Johnson said the most recent enrollment deadline for the 2020-21 school year was Tuesday. Another one is coming up in March. There are 83 students on the current wait list for next year – 16 for kindergarten, eight for first grade, 26 for second grade and 33 for third grade.