Indiana Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, questions whether Ball State has the money to support other university programs outside the charters.
"They make millions of dollars," he said. "They say all of the money goes toward the administration of those charter schools. I believe they are subsidizing something else within Ball State University. They claim it's about the children, but some of those charter schools have not been successful. They have been around for years and should have been closed."
Ball State University spokeswoman Joan Todd said the university gets no financial benefit from authorizing charter schools.
"The Office of Charter Schools does reimburse Ball State for financial, legal support services, office space and other miscellaneous items connected with running an enterprise," she said . . .
Rep. Smith said he wants to see the charter schools succeed because they are responsible for educating many African-American children.
"Charter schools have been touted as the greatest thing since apple pie," Smith said. "But with the exception of Thea Bowman in Gary, they haven't all been successful.Ball State defends its charter school oversight, noting it derives no financial benefit from sponsoring charter schools. "The Office of Charter Schools does reimburse Ball State for financial, legal support services, office space and other miscellaneous items connected with running an enterprise," Joan Todd said. Ball State spends over $720,000 for salaries and benefits for the staff that oversees the charter schools.
"And in 10 years, we should have seen success. I know that urban schools are not up to par, but charters were supposed to be the cure-all. We continue to experiment and split the dollars, which causes urban schools to struggle even more."
What I found interesting about McCollum's report is the size of Ball State's charter schools staff. The Office of Charter Schools at Ball State has a staff of seven full-time employees, plus three graduate assistants with an annual budget of $2.9 million, to oversee 41 schools. Indianapolis' Office of Education Innovation, which sponsors 19 schools, employs nine full-time employees with less than half the number of schools to oversee with an annual budget of about $2 million.
Mayor Greg Ballard refuses to collect the administrative fee it costs to oversee the City's charter school program, the costs of which have skyrocketed over the past several years. The cost of administering the Office of Education Innovation come at the expense of basic city services, including public safety. Ballard has fought council efforts to force him to collect the administrative fee authorized by state law, which is 3% of the state funding the charter schools receive.
The City is trying to plug what it describes as a $50 million budget deficit. Ballard wants to raise property taxes on most homeowners by eliminating the homestead property tax credit to help plug that deficit.