States

States Rework Policies on Charter Buildings

By Katie Ash — July 25, 2013 3 min read

Several states have been working to change policies and budgeting practices to help charter schools identify and pay for better facilities.

In Idaho, education officials representing both traditional district schools and charter schools came together this year to work on a plan for equitable facilities funding for charter schools.

After a series of compromises by both district and charter groups, the final recommendation was for the state to provide 20 percent of facilities costs for charters in its per-pupil allocation the first year of the program and 30 percent the next year; after that, the funding would increase or decrease in increments of 10 percentage points, with a cap at 50 percent and a minimum of 20 percent, depending on fluctuations in the overall state education budget, said Jason Hancock, the deputy chief of staff at the Idaho education department.

“It was important to administrators that future increases in that equivalency percentage would be tied to the budget,” he said. “If charter schools were getting more money for facilities, it was because all schools were receiving more money.”

The proposal passed the legislature with minimal changes and was signed into law in April.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee’s state-run Achievement School District—which was created with $22 million from the $500 million Race to the Top grant awarded to the state in 2010—education officials are aiming to move the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state into the top 25 percent of student achievement within five years.

To do so, the achievement district has relied largely on conversion charters in the low-performing schools.

Conversion charters are those that were previously a traditional public school before becoming a charter.

To cut back on the competition between charters and regular schools, the conversion charters can only pull students from schools in the Achievement School District. In exchange, the charters operate in district facilities rent-free.

“We don’t want this to be a financially adverse situation for the home district,” explained Malika Anderson, the chief portfolio officer for the 1,600-student Achievement School District.

Ballots and Bonds

In California, a series of lawsuits stemming from a 2000 ballot measure has put the state in the limelight for the charter school facility movement. The measure, Proposition 39, requires that public school facilities be “shared fairly and equally among all public schools, including those in charter schools.”

Proposition 39 has been critical in helping charters find adequate facilities, said Ricardo Soto, the senior vice president for legal advocacy and general counsel for the California Charter Schools Association. But even with the law in place, the state’s charters face challenges in securing space and paying for it, he said.

For starters, the law applies only to charter schools with more than 80 students, which not all startup charters may have, he said. Second, while Proposition 39 helps charters access facilities, it doesn’t help those charters finance the buildings.

In some California districts, such as San Diego and Los Angeles, charters have responded to that challenge by working with districts to be included in local bond measures, said Mr. Soto.

Miles Durfee, the Southern California managing regional director for the California Charter Schools Association, is helping oversee the distribution of funds to charters from a facilities bond passed in the San Diego school district last November.

“We absolutely would like to see this model explode or become bigger as we look through different local bonds,” he said. “The political nexus occurs when the voters vote for the bond. They want to vote for all students, and they have kids at charter schools.”

A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2013 edition of Education Week as States, Districts Set Policies to Give Charters Financing for Facilities

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States 8 States Debate Bills to Restrict How Teachers Discuss Racism, Sexism
Proposed bills in several states aim to ban "divisive concepts."
8 min read
Messed up puzzle pieces of an American flag on a dark blue background
iStock/Getty Images Plus
States How to Talk About Next School Year Presents a Big Test for Education Leaders
State K-12 officials must clearly communicate plans for safety, academics, and mental health, while mixing urgency with nuance.
12 min read
Woman applying "Welcome Back" sign to the school entrance
Leo Patrizi/E+/Getty Images
States Two More States Pass Restrictions on Transgender Students. Will Others Follow?
States have considered dozens of bills on the rights of transgender students. They cover everything from sports to pronouns used in schools.
4 min read
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre, S.D., on March 11, 2021, to protest a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues.
Advocates for transgender people march from the South Dakota governor's mansion to the Capitol in Pierre to protest a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues.
Stephen Groves/AP
States Vaccine Access Speeds Up for Teachers After Biden's Declaration
The vaccine landscape for teachers shifted dramatically after President Joe Biden directed states to prioritize the K-12 workforce.
7 min read
030321 Vaccine Breaking AP BS
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is held by a pharmacist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut on March.
Jessica Hill