Charter School Funding Issues

LEA/Charter School Funding

FACT SHEET & CALL TO ACTION

All public school children – regardless of which type of school they attend – deserve the opportunity to find their passion, reach their full potential and achieve their dreams.

In recent years charter school advocates have been pushing legislation to tip the scales and create an unbalanced playing field between school districts and charter schools.  Any such legislation is not the solution to equitable public school funding.

MYTH: School districts receive a higher per-pupil share of local and state tax dollars than charter schools.

FACT:   False.  School districts and charter schools currently receive an equal per-pupil share of local and state tax dollars.

MYTH: School districts and charter schools rely solely on tax dollars to fund public education.

FACT:   False.  There are many sources of revenue that individual public schools, charter schools and school districts can pursue and receive other than federal, state and local tax dollars to meet the needs of their students, including:

  • Grants and reimbursements that are tied to specific programs and services
  • Rental fees for use of school facilities
  • Private gifts
  • Tuition for pre-k, summer classes and other extracurricular services
  • Fundraisers

MYTH: Public School Districts are shortchanging charter schools by keeping money that should follow the child.  As a result, North Carolina’s charter schools get less than 75 cents for every dollar given to regular public schools.

FACT:   False. Charter advocates use an apples-to-oranges comparison. The chart below highlights some of the revenue sources that are left out of the charter school revenue calculation:

Charter School Revenue Source Calculation For the 75 Cent Comparison
Rental Fees NOT Counted
Sales Tax Refunds NOT Counted
Tuition NOT Counted
Gifts and Grants NOT Counted
Pre-K Funds NOT Counted
Indirect Costs NOT Counted
Federal Reimbursements NOT Counted

 

Ironically, charter advocates count many of those same revenue sources when calculating the funds districts receive.

BOTTOM LINE:

All tax dollars allocated on a per-pupil basis follow the child.

Charters and districts can, and often do, pursue the same non-tax revenue sources, such as grants and reimbursements (more examples are listed above) that fit their students’ needs.

Program-specific grants have to be used for their intended purpose.  Those types of grants that districts apply for and receive are currently not shared with charter schools, just as charter schools do not share their grant money with school districts – in part because there’s no way to guarantee the other entity will spend the grant money for its intended purpose.

Charter advocates are now lobbying lawmakers to pass bills that forces school districts to share its program-specific funding with charter schools while allowing charter schools to keep every cent of its program-specific funding.  That is not equitable funding.

A list of other funds advocates are trying to funnel from school districts to charter schools includes:

  • Grants tied to programs charters don’t necessarily offer.
  • Federal dollars meant to offset additional costs of offering a specific program. Example: costs associated with providing free and reduced-price meals for which charters (i) also receive federal dollars or (ii) don’t provide the program and should not receive funds meant to offset costs for a program they don’t offer.
  • Federal reimbursements. Exampledistricts and charters can receive reimbursements for technology infrastructure investments, such as Wi-Fi. These reimbursements are distributed to schools based on dollars they already spent on the program, not on how many students use the program.  The reimbursement is the same whether the program benefits 10 students or 1,000 students.  Hence, funds are not distributed on a per-pupil basis and should not follow the student.

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