By Erica L. Green
5:24 PM EDT, October 12, 2012
Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso sent an email to the community this week promoting an "objective, third-party analysis" of his student funding model. But The Baltimore Sun found that the company that did the report helped him implement that program.
On Monday, the schools chief promoted the five-page report that examined the success of Baltimore’s per-pupil funding formula, called Fair Student Funding, which Alonso introduced in the district in 2008. The report, published Sept. 6, concluded that the district is a model for the best outcomes of the program: pushing more money into schools and allowing principals to spend based on what's best for students.
"I am writing to you about the report because it provides an objective, third-party analysis of a major reform under the current transformation," Alonso wrote in the widely distributed email to parents, educators and community members.
"The report affirms that, in many ways, we are headed in the right reform direction; on the other hand, it affirms that we have far to go before we are where we need to be. It takes our reform pulse, and on balance, the prognosis is good," Alonso wrote.
But The Sun found that the report was conducted by the same organization, Education Resource Strategies, that helped develop and implement the Fair Student Funding program.
According to ERS in the report, the Fair Student Funding examination was done at the request of the city school system, but paid for by the Carnegie Corp. of New York. However, on Friday, the school system said that it did not request the report and that the consultants had revised it to reflect that.
City school officials said that the district has paid ERS a total of $24,477 since 2008 as consultants on charter schools and school networks.
But in a description of its work in Baltimore on its website, the company says that in 2007, it worked to "to create a resource map and a decision-making support model to inform funding system redesign and implementation (Fair Student Funding) including corresponding shift of resources from central office to school.
When The Sun asked Alonso why he presented the report as independent, he responded through a statement: "ERS is preeminent in the country in the strategic use and analysis of resources, and it works with many districts like Baltimore," Alonso said. "Part of the firm’s value to these districts is its knowledge of this work across the country. The report was not commissioned by the district. It was done independently of the district and its statements are not the district's positions. It is an independent report."
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