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Public Charter Schools Receiving Less Funding Than Their Traditional Counterparts
posted by: Cindy Omlin | August 09, 2012, 08:03 PM   

One of the most pressing issues facing the public charter school movement is the push for equitable funding. Because they are public schools, charter schools are funded with tax dollars and are designed to provide options for students and for teachers. Although many of these schools have proved to be successful, charter schools have typically been forced to operate with fewer public dollars when compared to their traditional district school counterparts.

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, public charter schools do not add any new costs to the state's public education system. They simply represent a reallocation of resources from one school to another based upon the decisions of families across the state. According to a recent report by researchers at Ball State University, charter schools receive $2.2 billion less nationally than traditional public schools.

As charter schools grow in popularity and spread to new states every year, funding inequality has become a top issue for many charter school advocates. In some states, public charter school per-pupil funding can be nearly 30% less than that of traditional district schools.

In California, a state with 440,000 charter school students, public charter schools receive significantly less funding according to the state's Legislative Analyst's Office. While state law dictates schools should receive equal funding, charter schools receive on average $395 less per student or 7% less than district schools. Moreover, for the half of charter elementary schools that does not qualify for class-size reduction subsidies, the gap increases an additional $721 less per student.

Despite the inequity in funding, many charter schools in California and other states are high-performing compared to district averages. "The proof is in the pudding," said Bob Hampton, superintendent of Guajome Park Academy, a charter school in California. Another charter leader remarked, "At the end of the day, we are in the business to take care of our students."

The situation is not unique to California. According to analysis from Florida TaxWatch, Florida charter schools receive about 70 cents for every dollar budgeted to a traditional district schools. Similarly, in Illinois, legislators have proposed legislation that would require districts to provide at least 95%–up from 75%–of the district's per capita student tuition to charter schools.

To examine funding levels in your state, click here to view the Public Charter School Dashboard website.

Do you think public charter schools should receive equal funding?

Comment below.

Originally posted by Alix at AAE.

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