Venturesome Capital- State Charter School Finance Systems

To address problems with charter school financing

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Unformatted text preview: 996) found, “[R]esource woes are the greatest single barrier to establishment of a large number of flourishing charter schools—and the one that state policymakers could do the most about.” To address problems with charter school financing, policymakers need to understand how their decisions affect charter schools’ financial stability and educational quality. Among the questions of concern are (1) whether charter schools receive resources for their educational programs that are at least comparable to those resources that other public schools receive for similar programs; and (2) whether charter schools have spending patterns that differ from those of traditional public schools. The development of a 7 Venturesome Capital: State Charter School Finance Systems broader understanding of these issues is among the goals of the National Charter School Finance Study. Our report, which is the first component of this study, summarizes and analyzes charter school finance laws, regulations and practices in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Milwaukee. The research generally focuses on charter school finance systems in place during the 1998-99 school year. The analysis includes a determination of the range of perpupil funding that charter schools should expect to receive in each state. While our report examines the financial practices adopted by state funding agencies needed to implement state finance laws and regulations, it does not address the implementation practices of school districts. Issues regarding school district fidelity to state law, or unilateral actions taken by school districts, are not addressed in this first report. Subsequent reports of our study will collect and analyze revenue data for charter schools and school districts in most states and expenditure data in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas. Intensive financial analysis and qualitative case study work in selected charter schools and school districts will also be conducted for these six states. These subsequent reports of our national study will address important implementation issues regarding, among other things, the extent to which school districts share revenue with charter schools as required by state law. Much of the previous research on charter school funding is based on opinions from surveys. The actual relationship between charter school funding and school district funding is systematically studied in our report. The technical provisions relating to the financing of charter schools and the oversight of their financial activities are still not clearly understood even by some charter school operators and state officials. Understanding the technical relationship between charter school and school district finance is an essential preliminary step toward understanding how state and local policies affect the provision of services by charter schools and the effect that charter schools have on school districts. Although the systems established to finance charter schools vary from state to state, th...
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