Venturesome Capital- State Charter School Finance Systems

If charter schools provide services in these two

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Unformatted text preview: special education services needed by children, but they are also responsible for assessment. By controlling assessment, these districts in these states have an assurance of how the costs 39 Venturesome Capital: State Charter School Finance Systems will be determined. If charter schools provide services in these two states, school districts provide funding based on actual costs and therefore the disabilities of specific students. Overall, Illinois school districts pay charter schools 75 percent to 125 percent of average costs. Much of the funding differential is based on whether a charter school provides special education services on its own or relies on the school district. Similarly, Colorado school districts negotiate with charter schools over a funding level that ranges from 80 percent to 120 percent of district spending.22 Charter schools often get less than 100 percent funding if they attract fewer special education students, or if the school district provides special education services at no cost. Fieldwork and more research are necessary to determine the degree to which special education funding matches specific pupil needs in these states. The other end of the continuum includes states such as Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Special education funding is based not only on host school district special education costs or revenue, but also on the characteristics of the host district’s special education population, as opposed to special education students actually enrolled in the charter school.23 These systems should work perfectly if charter school special education populations exactly mirror host school district special education populations. But as the number of special education students and the severity of their disabilities deviate from school district averages, the potential emerges for overfunding (for charter schools with low special needs populations) and underfunding (for charter schools serving high numbers of special education students). North Carolina and Pennsylvania base revenue for every special education student on the average expenditure (Pennsylvania) or revenue (North Carolina) per special education pupil in the student’s district of residence. Thus, every special education student in a charter school gets district-average funding regardless of the cost of services or the severity of the disability. This funding strategy provides charter schools with a strong financial incentive to enroll special education students, but to enroll those with the least costly disabilities. The finance systems in Louisiana, Massachusetts, Milwaukee and Rhode Island create an even stronger financial incentive to avoid special education altogether.24 In these states, charter school funding is based on the host school districts’ total operating costs (including special education) divided by district enrollment (including special education). No matter how many special education students a charter school serves, it receives special education funding as part of its per-pupil allotment as if it were serving a special needs population exactly matching the school district average. 22 Colorado mandates...
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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.

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