One of the arguments against charter schools in the case before state Supreme Court is that they take away local property tax revenue from the Jackson Public School District.
The amount provided to the charter public schools in Jackson is minuscule when compared to both the amount of local property tax revenue (slightly more than 1 percent) and the annual expenditures by JPS (less than 0.5 percent).
Since 2015, the three charters located in Jackson have received $4.5 million from the district’s property tax revenue, or about 1.2 percent of the $373,917,333 in property tax revenue the district has received during the same span.
In 2018, JPS had expenses of $277,820,379, $298,256,286 in 2017, $282,231,492 in 2016 and $268,687,636 in 2015.
That adds up to $1,126,995,793 in expenses from 2018 to 2015. The amount directed to charter schools represents only 0.4 percent of that spending.
The arguments Tuesday before the state Supreme Court arose because of a 2016 lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that questioned the validity of the state’s 2013 charter school law and whether local property tax revenues can be used to fund public charter schools.
A February 2018 ruling in Hinds County Chancery Court was a victory for charter school supporters, but the SPLC immediately appealed to the state’s highest court.
The reason for the location of charters in Jackson is because the district is a failing one according to the Mississippi Department of Education’s annual accountability scores. The district has received an F grade for the past three years.
Since 2011 when the MDE switched to a letter grade system for its accountability scores, JPS has scored no higher than a D.
The accountability grades are partially based on the performance of students and the annual progress made on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests for English language arts and mathematics, which are administered annually to students in the third through eighth grades and in high school.
Also figured into the accountability grades are the four-year graduation rate, student performance on biology, U.S. history and ACT tests, and student participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement.