Rocketship Redux

By 11/16/2009

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In an earlier post I described an October visit to the Rocketship Mateo Sheedy charter school in San Jose CA.  I related the school’s impressive test scores — some of the highest in Santa Clara County — for low-income, mostly Hispanic students led by a faculty of Teach for America graduates.   I also stated that the school’s budget of about $6,000/pupil supported higher salary levels than for comparable teachers in San Jose public schools.

Last week Rocketship Mateo Sheedy was the subject of a post at the blog of Joanne Jacobs, a freelance education writer.  One (of twenty-three) comments asked about teacher salaries at the school.  Another doubted that the budget was as low as I had claimed.

In response to a request, the school provided me with extensive spreadsheets detailing its FY 2010 budget.   With an enrollment of 452 students, the $3,229,381 budget for all expenses, including capital costs, is $7,145/student.  Excluding almost $600,000 in capital costs, the operating budget is about $2.6 million, or $5,842/student.

The average salary for the eleven teachers at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy is $60,660.  John Danner, CEO for a group of Rocketship schools, says the salaries are 10%-20% higher than for peers in the San Jose public school system. With benefits, total average compensation is $74,996.  The benefit package more closely reflects the real world, rather than the dreamland that is going to bankrupt so many traditional public school districts.

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