The truth about charter school funding


FLORIDA – April 15, 2014 - In recent weeks, inaccuracies have appeared in the media regarding public charter school operations, and funding practices. Here is the truth: public charter schools receive considerably less funding that District-run schools.

• Capital outlay – funded through Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) – is limited and only available once a charter school has been in operation for three years and has met other accountability requirements.

• District schools have not received PECO funding in recent years, however, Districts continue to have several options to increase revenues. If construction needs arise, a school District may use Certificates of Participation (COPS) and can also go to the voters for an added millage allocation for major construction, maintenance or operational projects. Charter schools do not have that option.

• Most charter schools receive federal start-up grant dollars and capital outlay funds which allow them to secure a facility and begin operations. However, in the last decade, the availability of those grants has been dramatically reduced while the number of charter schools has grown substantially.

• Both district schools and charter schools receive per student funding from the State. However, charter school students are funded an average of 11.4 % less than students attending a district school (2005 Thomas B. Fordham Institute report).

• According to Ball State University (May 2010), the nation’s public charter schools received, on average, $2,247 less per pupil funding than district schools in the same state. In Florida, on average, public charter school students received over $3,000 less than students attending District public schools.

• Local funding accounts for the largest disparity between District and charter public schools. Capital millage is exclusively (except in a few Counties in Florida) used by school districts – even though both district school and charter school parents contribute.

The question no one is asking is…what are charter schools doing right that's attracting parents?

All charter school students elect to attend their public charter school because it offers a program the family values. Not one student is assigned to a charter school.

Enrollment is entirely a parent’s decision. Across the state, charter school enrollment has increased every year, because Florida families value this public school option. The number of charter schools has grown from 5 in their inception in 1997, to more than 600 today, and serve more than 200,000 students.

Policy doesn't fill seats, parents do! Parents are the force behind charter school growth. Charter schools enjoy bipartisan support. Former Governor Jeb Bush is a supporter, and so is President Obama, President Clinton and President George W. Bush. In fact, the federal Charter Schools Program was established by President Clinton.

# # #