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Unformatted text preview: that charter schools receive at least 80 percent of the school district average per-pupil
operating funds, but about one-third receive more than the district average (the ones that get capital outlay
funding), and at least one charter school is receiving 120 percent funding.
Massachusetts however, specifically excludes school district special education for preschool, hospital
services and tuition.
This is not to say that all charter schools will respond primarily to financial incentives. The funding
systems in these states are generous enough to allow special education programs. School profiles in
Massachusetts, for instance, show that a number of charter schools are providing special education for a
considerable number of students. However, the number of costly students served by charter schools is, on
average, not in proportion to the size of the special education population in sending districts (KPMG-Peat
Marwick, 1998). 40 Overview of Charter School Funding Regardless of the charter school issues, controversies swirl over special education finance
largely because of ever-increasing costs that arguably come at the expense of regular
education spending. According to one longitudinal study, the share of district budgets
devoted to special education during the past 25 years has increased from 4 percent to 17
percent (Rothstein, 1992; 1997). In New York state, between 1979 and 1992 the share of
the budget devoted to special education increased from 5 percent to more than 11 percent,
and the increase in regular teaching expenditures was about half that of the increase in
special education expenditures (Lankford and Wykoff, 1999).
Against this backdrop, the issue of charter school special education finance needs to be
considered carefully. Parents of students with disabilities have started a number of charter
schools. In several states, charter schools report serving a higher percentage of students in
special education than the state average. Nationwide, however, charter schools serve fewer
handicapped children than do all public schools (RPP, 1997, 1998, 1999). In several states,
however, charter schools report serving a higher percentage of students in special
education than the state averages. Charter schools in Massachusetts with for-profit
managers have also been charged with systematically “counseling out” students with the
most costly disabilities (Zollers and Ramanthan, 1998). Studies in Michigan (Horn and
Miron, 1999, and PCS/MAXIMUS, 1999) indicate a dramatic difference between charter
schools and host districts in spending on added needs students.
The most commonly expressed concern within the charter school community is that a highcost special education student could outstrip a charter school’s financial ability to meet that
student’s educational needs (Bierlein and Fulton, 1996). Part of the problem is size. Small
charter schools are unable to spread the high costs of a severely handicapped child among
all students without having an impa...
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2013 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Smith during the Spring '09 term at Harvard.
- Spring '09