Public School District Benefits By Branching Into Private Schools

Brighton Area Schools turns deficit into surplus by offering teaching services to private schools

For years, Brighton Area Schools struggled with deficits and saw it balloon to $8.5 million in 2012-2013. 

That's up from $2.3 million in 2008-2009.

However, the district now projects it cannot only be out of deficit, but show a surplus in 2014-15 thanks to its "shared services" program that brought the district $8 million dollars in 2013-14.

"Where else are we going to generate $8 million a year?" said Brighton School Board Member Bill Trombley. "What else are you going to do?"

Public schools can provide services to private schools in non-core areas such as art, computers, foreign language, music, physical education and other electives. The shared services program has been around for years, but Brighton only recently implemented its program.

Brighton Area Schools hires teachers to work in private schools outside its district in the non-core service classes. Brighton has hired 170 teachers for the program, making it the largest shared service program in the state, said Brighton Area Schools Superintendent Greg Gray.

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The Livingston County school district started the program in 2011-12. The first year, the program involved 85 student full-time equivalencies. Students join the program from surrounding schools for an hour and Brighton Area Schools gets a pro-rated, per-pupil dollar amount for providing services.

In 2013-14, the district generated 1,000 student FTEs and that is projected to jump to 1,400 FTEs in 2014-15, which will bring in $10.5 million, Gray said.

"It creates great partnerships for us with our local privates," Gray said. "It's worked out for everybody so far."

And for the first time in six years, the district should not be in the red. In fact, district officials say there will be a $1.5 million surplus, instead. 


See also:

Helping Districts Deal With Deficits 

Coverage of School District Claiming Cuts

Five Easy Questions to Ask School Officials

Related Articles:

Michigan Private Schools Cost Significantly Less Than Public Schools

The State of Private Schools in Michigan

Mia's Story Shows Private Schools Can Help When Other Schools Have Failed

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Frustrated With Public School, Parents of Student With Special Needs Find Help at Private School

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