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Home > MSMA News > Charter Commission adds staff, gives back some funds to charters – September 7, 2016

Charter Commission adds staff, gives back some funds to charters – September 7, 2016

The Maine Charter School Commission believes it is taking in too much money based on the administrative fee allowed under law and wants to give some back to charter schools, while still being able to add staff, increase contracted services and create an annual $100,000 contingency fund.

Language in the state’s charter school law allows the commission to charge charter schools up to 3 percent of the annual per-pupil amounts given them using the Essential Programs and Services formula. The state is sending out just under $20 million to the 9 charter schools up and running this school year, according to the Department of Education.

The greatest single expense for the Charter Commission is its staffing, with $253,984 budgeted for fiscal year 2017, covering the positions of executive director, program director, administrative assistant and a newly created financial administrator position that has yet to be filled.

The budget also calls for adding a part-time administrative assistant in fiscal year 2018. Also in 2018, the commission wants to add $40,000 a year for contracted services and $100,000 annually for contingency to cover costs should a charter school close its doors.

For the current fiscal year, the commission’s budget shows expenses of $424,564, revenue of $615,196, and separate carry-over revenue of $526,255.

At its meeting Tuesday, commission members voted to give back $428,473 to charter schools, although it did not determine what formula it would use to return the money. That would leave the commission with a $288,414 cushion at the end of the year.

Going forward, it wants to collect less, and adopted a policy saying it would “assume a flexible approach to the 3 percent draw down, annually assessing the Commission’s oversight and funding needs, with an eye to ensuring that its schools receive as much of their per-pupil allocation as possible.”

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