329 Native American children attend schools from Dennis to Plymouth, according to statistics obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This represents a growth of 4% from 317 students last year.
Overall Cape area school enrollment dropped 1.42% in the same period and over 20% in the past decade.
The $4.3M Question
If the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe forms a Commonwealth Charter School these 329 students represent as much as $4.3 million in charter school tuition, paid by the school district where the students reside. See the chart below.
It is unknown what percentage of Wampanoag students would apply to a new charter school, but tribal members we spoke with expect the number will be high.
With a potential of $4.3 million changing hands, all eyes will be on the Mashpee Wampanoag nation as they move forward with their plans to form a school.
Mashpee could lose $1.4M, DY $800K
In examining the potential impact of a Wampanoag Language Immersion School, we used the “foundation formula rate” for Fiscal 2014 that was recently published by DESE. High school foundation rates can range higher than middle and elementary school charter tuition rates, so we used Sturgis’ numbers to model a worse cast scenario.
Mashpee enrolls the most Native American students in the area – 103 of them this year, up from 97 in Fiscal 2012. Dennis-Yarmouth comes in second with 58 students, up from 55 last year. Falmouth is fourth with 45 students.
If every Native American child in Mashpee moved to a Wampanoag charter school the district would pay $1,461,261 per year to educate those students at the charter.
Dennis-Yarmouth could lose another $808,520 in charter tuition in addition to what it is already projected to pay in FY2014 to Sturgis ($1,603,100) and Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter ($734,706).
Martha’s Vineyard’s Native American school population grew almost 40% in the past year, from 32 to 44 students.
If the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe establishes an excellent academic program, wrapped in Native American culture, they may well attract students from Martha’s Vineyard. That would be very bad news indeed for the Vineyard’s tiny school districts (MVPS).
New Twist in School Competition
In our ongoing chronicle of the school competition “market” here on Cape Cod, we have examined school choice, two existing charter schools, private schools and most recently the likely formation of a K-5 charter school in the mid-Cape area.
The specter of a Wampanoag charter school adds a new twist to school competition Cape-wide and a potential tectonic shift that will be felt most acutely on the Upper Cape and South Coast regions.