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Unformatted text preview: lorida and Minnesota improved charter school
facilities funding in 1999-2000. In Florida, Minnesota and Rhode Island, funds are
narrowly restricted to capital purchases. In Arizona, Massachusetts and the District of
Columbia, funds provided for capital can be used for general operating expenditures.
School districts, on the other hand, are almost always restricted from using capital funds
for general operating purposes. The flexibility offered to charter schools in those states is 71 Venturesome Capital: State Charter School Finance Systems often portrayed as an incentive to provide facilities efficiently, but it also raises questions
about whether the facilities issue is exploited simply to improve funding.
In Arizona, the state provides generous funding for capital outlay and capital levy
expenditures. Some of the funding for state authorized charter schools depends on grade
level and school size.35 The capital outlay revenue limit program provides $195 (large
elementary schools) to $330 per pupil (small high schools). The capital levy revenue limit
program, which depends on school size but not grade level, provides $195 (large schools)
to $300 per pupil (small schools). Regular and charter high schools get $70 per pupil for
textbooks, which in Arizona is considered a capital expense. The third capital assistance
program ($496 to $569 per pupil) is available only to charter schools. Under the new
school capital finance system, school districts get state funding based on need. Average
funding totals about $400 per pupil. With voter approval, however, school districts can
issue bonds, and several fast-growing school districts have debt retirement costs of $800 to
$1,000 per pupil. In addition to extra funding provided by the weighting system, charter
schools enjoy more flexibility. School districts can use the capital levy only for equipment.
Charter schools get an equal amount and can spend it for any legitimate purpose.
Charter schools in the District of Columbia received a facilities allowance of $617 per
pupil in 1998-99. The use of the funds is not limited to capital. The facilities allowance for
1999-2000 increased to $1,058 per pupil, approximately the average per-pupil capital
expense in other public schools for the prior fiscal year. Almost all capital improvement
programs in other District of Columbia public schools are devoted to the repair of leaky
roofs, broken windows, lead paint and asbestos removal, poor lighting, inadequate heating,
inoperable bathrooms and other repairs. Some charter schools occupy former district
schools and use facility funds for exactly the same purposes.
In Massachusetts, all debt service in excess of State Building Assistance Bureau (SBAB)
grants for debt retirement enters the charter school tuition calculation. SBAB funds up to
90 percent of the debt retirement cost of new facilities in cities where facilities construction
is an integral component of a racial desegregation plan; otherwise SBAB funds about half
of debt retirement costs for qualifying projects, or no funding at all. A KPMG-Peat
Marwick study of 33 school districts sending students to charter sc...
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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