Charter school math

It’s unlikely to change many minds because, like who won the presidential debate, facts mean little when it comes to perception and opinion.

But a new study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation could give pause to those opposed to lifting the cap on charter schools based on the argument it hits traditional school districts in the area it most hurts – the budget.

According to the report, which was handed solely to the Boston Globe and was not available on the group’s website early Wednesday, the bottom line is simple and telling: 3.9 percent of the state’s public school students attend charters and charter schools account for 3.9 percent of state spending on education.

“While people can disagree, certainly, on the educational merits of charter schools, the data doesn’t show that charter schools have taken funding away from traditional public school districts in any way that’s disproportionate to the charter school attendance,” Eileen McAnneny, president of Massachusetts Taxpayers, told the Globe.

Certainly, it gets a little more complicated than that. Critics of the ballot question to lift the cap say districts struggle because money follows the students when they leave to go to charter schools, putting a hole in budgets that still have to support salaries and maintenance. But the study shows per-pupil spending at both charters and traditional school districts – both deemed public schools – have risen roughly the same over the past five years.

The report, though, does not say how traditional districts have been able to maintain the spending levels. A study by the watchdog Boston Municipal Research Bureau earlier this year showed the city diverted money from other departments to bolster school spending.

There are some spending disparities among districts most affected by charter growth. The taxpayers foundation study looked at eight of the state’s districts that comprise three-quarters of the growth in charter school enrollment over the last five years. Overall, the group found charter school spending increased by 11.8 percent while per-pupil spending in traditional districts rose 10.1 percent. But while Boston, for instance, had a slight difference (19.2 percent increase for charters vs. 18 percent for district schools), Springfield saw a yawning gap (12.3 percent increase for charters vs. 5.8 percent for district schools).

But no matter the numbers, it’s doubtful it will sway any of the partisans. The study, for instance, cites Marlborough, the home of the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School, as a typical district where charter school spending increased by 13.3 percent while the city’s school budget went up by nearly 26 percent.

But the Marlborough School Committee approved a resolution opposing Question 2, citing the argument of teachers’ unions and districts around the state that charter schools drained $450 million from traditional districts last year. That argument, though, fails to incorporate the money the state sends back to districts that lose students through a complicated reimbursement formula.

Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant, chairman of the school committee, refused to sign the resolution.

“It is false that charter schools deprive district schools of funding; since [the math and science charter school] opened its door, state tax dollars make up a greater portion of Marlborough’s school budget than it did previously,” Vigeant said.

It is one more log on the fire.

JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker signs legislation designating Billerica as the “Yankee Doodle Town.” (Lowell Sun)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston unveils its new Boston Planning & Development Agency, which replaces the often-reviled Boston Redevelopment Authority. (Boston Globe) A group of community activists, led by Boston icon and one-time mayoral finalist Mel King, issue a letter condemning the change and call for elected, neighborhood boards to have oversight of development and planning decisions. (Dorchester Reporter)

The Lowell City Council approves raises for its members and members of the school committee. (Lowell Sun)

Local lawmakers want the main branch of the Brockton Public Library to be named after the late state senator Thomas Kennedy, but the head of the board of trustees says “naming opportunities” at the library usually come with monetary donations. (The Enterprise)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh could get called to testify in a lawsuit involving the failed IndyCar race, which could surface unpleasant details of one of his first-term fiascos, says Joe Battenfeld. (Boston Herald)

A report details how the tax collector in Hubbardston manipulated accounts to steal more than $500,000. (Telegram & Gazette)

Marshfield officials say residents are illegally putting their own stairs up on the newly built $2.7 million seawall despite seven sets of concrete stairs along the structure. (Patriot Ledger)

The Boston City Council may put a bullseye on the city’s exploding (in more than one way) population of Canada geese. (Boston Globe)

Andover is looking for its own poet laureate. (Eagle-Tribune)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The stalled federal budget may be on the move again as House Republicans go along with Democrats pressing for aid to Flint, Michigan. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Hillary Clinton tries to ride the wave of her winning debate performance to regain momentum in the presidential race. (Boston Globe)

How big league has Trump stepped in it? Even the Herald’s Adriana Cohen thinks he just might want to lay off the “Miss Piggy” references and renewed discussion of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s weight. Meanwhile, the Herald editorial page wasn’t too impressed either by what it saw from Trump on Monday night — and in his post-debate spin, headlining its editorial “Whiner vs. wonk.”

The Arizona Republic editorial board, saying Donald Trump is neither conservative nor qualified, endorses Hillary Clinton, the first Democrat the paper has ever endorsed.

Scientific polls suggest voters think Hillary Clinton prevailed in her debate with Donald Trump. (WBUR) Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito both say neither Clinton nor Trump won the debate. (Telegram & Gazette) A Lowell Sun editorial calls the presidential debate a lost opportunity for Trump, but says he can build on his performance. A Berkshire Eagle editorial says Trump’s stance on climate change is a disqualifier.

With the presidential race tightening over the last month, New Hampshire is emerging as a potential key state in the Electoral College sweepstakes. (Boston Globe)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, campaigning in Worcester for Rep. Daniel Donahue, says he won’t release an ethics report on Donahue’s rival, former representative John Fresolo. (Telegram & Gazette)

How meaningless are opt-in online polls? The margin of error is plus or minus 100.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s toughest foe in a hypothetical 2018 match-up? Joe Kennedy III, according to  the recent UMass/WBZ poll. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A proposed park in place of its current IMAX cinema could help broker a compromise between the New England Aquarium and developer Don Chiofaro over his proposed development project. (Boston Globe) Take the deal, Don, says Shirley Leung. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The University of Massachusetts plans to spend $2.5 billion on capital projects across its five campuses over the next five years. (Boston Herald)

Jack Schneider proposes a more holistic approach to evaluating the performance of schools. (CommonWealth)

The state appears poised to pull back from plans to have student test scores figure prominently in the evaluation of teachers. (Boston Globe)

The Framingham School Committee revealed it voted in May not to renew the contract of Superintendent Stacy Scott, who is on leave. The committee gave no reason for the decision. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Boston Globe Magazine talks to a district and charter teacher about Question 2 and the pros and cons of charter schools. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The state Health Policy Commission warns that health care costs are likely to rise if Boston Children’s Hospital goes ahead with a planned $1 billion expansion. (Boston Globe) The commission raised its concerns in a letter to the the Department of Public Health, which must rule on the hospital expansion. (State House News)

TRANSPORTATION

While a third bridge going to the Cape still looms as a possibility, officials from the Cape Cod Canal Transportation Study group will discuss two new — and cheaper — alternatives to alleviate traffic. (Cape Cod Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The owners of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant are bracing for a comprehensive inspection by officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to determine the struggling plant’s safety and ability to maintain operations. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoag, allowing the tribe to be a party in the suit brought by East Taunton residents trying to block the planned casino. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Investigators are looking closer at the case of the 22-year-old Vermont man found floating at sea 100 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard who says his mother didn’t make it into the lifeboat after their fishing vessel sank. He was once a suspect in his grandfather’s still-unsolved 2013 murder. (Boston Herald)

A 46-year-old Canton man who, as a teen in 1986, lured a classmate into the woods and beat him to death with a baseball bat because he wanted to see how it felt to kill someone, was denied parole. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Google Docs played a key role in NPR’s real-time fact-checking on the debate. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

PASSINGS

Former Israeli prime minister and president Shimon Peres, the last connection to the country’s generation of founding leaders, died Wednesday at age 93. (Haaretz)