Fiscal Intelligence

Fiscal analysis that enables educators, small business owners, and community organizers to make informed decisions.

Category: Education

The Importance of Being in School

When the Instructors Need Instructing by Sol Stern, City Journal 22 August 2014

When the Instructors Need Instructing by Sol Stern, City Journal 22 August 2014.

FINANCE AND GOVERNANCE: The critical role they play in the charter schools movement and its survival.

When people think about one of the most common reason/rationale for charter schools closure what immediately comes to mind is an instructional reason, however, what the most recent research points out to is a completely different story.  It turns out that an often overlooked area surfaces as a rationale for most of the charter school closures and that is financial mismanagement. Another factor that is usually mentioned is governance. Pondering a second over this, the financial reason makes a great deal of sense. The students drive the inflow of capital into the schools. Therefore, if enrollment falls substantially that can jeopardize the viability and sustainability of the school. We have seen this scenario played out in some of the New York State suburbs and throughout the nations where municipalities have been forced to close down numerous schools because of a decline in enrollment.

When the authorizers are making a decision to close a school (not renewed its charter), they do tend to weigh heavily the fiscal viability of the entity. If they consider it not to be a robust one, they likely move forward with the decision to shut down the school. A point of reference that is important to mention  is Washington, D.C., where 50% of the students attend charter schools. When one looks at the report  released by the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (PCSB), more than 50% of the charter schools closed since 1996 have been due to financial mismanagement.   Although the rest of the school might not have been closed solely for financial management, this rationale was mentioned as one of the reasons for the decision.  This sheds some light on the importance of having strong financial procedures and a strong finance team with the background and skills needed to support and strengthen the viability and sustainability of the charter school movement.

Another factor that triggers the closure of the charter schools – one that people tend to overlook most of the time – is governance (Board of Trustees). Governance plays a vital and critical role in setting the strategic direction of the school when it comes to procedures, operations, and finance. If they are not doing what they have been chosen to do, which is governing, even if the school is doing well instructionallly the school will not be considered a viable and sustainable entity in the foreseeable future.

Given my professional experience in the education sector, I was not surprised by the findings presented by the research as to the importance of finance and governance. They do play a pivotal role in the viability and sustainability of any school. What keeps getting my attention on a daily basis is that in actuality, these two significance areas are usually overlooked and dismissed to a secondary, not strategic role.  The evidence clearly indicates that these two functions cannot continue to be ignored and must be fully understood in order to ensure that we are building stronger and fiscally viable schools.

See you next time,

Optimization with an Impact


Investigate * Educate * Optimize


New York City Public School Demographics

Student Loan Debt History – Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Student Loan Debt History – Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Choice, Accountability, and Achievement by Charles Upton Sahm, City Journal 9 January 2014

Choice, Accountability, and Achievement by Charles Upton Sahm, City Journal 9 January 2014.

The Closing of Diane Ravitch’s Mind by Sol Stern, City Journal Autumn 2013

Education writer and activist Diane Ravitch is very angry these days. She’s convinced herself and her followers that elements of the American corporate elite are working to destroy the nation’s public schools, the indispensable institution that has held our republic together for more than two centuries. According to Ravitch, these fake reformers—the “billionaire boys’ club,” as she calls them—are driven by greed: after destroying the schools and stigmatizing hardworking teachers, she says, they want to privatize education and reap the profits from the new market.

The Closing of Diane Ravitch’s Mind by Sol Stern, City Journal Autumn 2013.

Charter Schools’s Challenges

Subdue, Contain, Deplete by Larry Sand – City Journal.

Our New Reality

Dear Readers,

I am delighted to share with you my most recent article. The best way to summarize it is by sharing these quotes with you from The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti  in order to guide you better. The unfortunate thing is that not everyone is prepared to embrace the changes that are engulfing this wonderful nation.

I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

These quotes are a great segway into my article.

 “On the surface it seems we have good reason to be worried. Middle class salaries are declining. Good jobs are scarce. Take the typical forty-year-old male worker with a high school education: today his hourly wage is 8% lower than his father’s was in 1980, adjusted for inflation. This means that for the first time in recent America history, the average worker has not experienced an improvement in standard of living compared to the previous generation. In fact he is worse off by almost every measure. On top of this, income inequality is widening. Uncertainty about the future is now endemic.”


“Over the past half century the United States has shifted from an economy centered on producing physical goods to one centered on innovation and knowledge.”


See you soon,

Optimization with an Impact (OpIm)



New Jersey’s Abbott Districts: Education Finances During the Great Recession

“The New Jersey Constitution states that any child between the ages of five and eighteen has the constitutional right to a “thorough and efficient” education.”