By Kelly Cadman: Those who know me well have heard me beat the drum for years LOUDLY and FREQUENTLY about charter school funding inequities. Why does this matter? Because a primary right granted under our state’s Constitution is for an adequate education for EVERY child. Our charter students, whose parents are local and state tax-paying citizens, are not and have not been treated equitably and an adequate education for them has been compromised. You have heard traditional schools continue to state that they are underfunded. If we take that at face value, then where are the charters? EVERY charter in Georgia is funded lower than the traditional schools. Every. Single. One.
In 2008, a study was released called “Inequity Persists.” Today the University of Arkansas released a follow up to this study that shows public charter schools receive $3,059 LESS per pupil than traditional public schools. Charter Funding: Inequity Expands (the study) reveals the disparity is greatest in major cities and that the funding gap has grown in recent years.
That’s a nation-wide report. Here in Georgia, the study rated Georgia an F in funding charter school students. Georgia charter school students received 27.8% LESS funding than their traditional school counterpart students. There are a multitude of reasons for this outlined in the report.
Here’s the kicker in the report – In Georgia, if districts statewide had earned the same level of funding as charter schools do, they would have received 5 BILLION dollars LESS in total revenues. They are already concerned about too little funding …. what if they had to live on charter school funding … without the benefit of scale that size brings?
Bringing it closer to home, the charter school my sons attend earns about $5,800 per pupil (plus about $645 per student for ONE year). The district is at $7,933 PLUS facility outlay, PLUS SPLOST funds. Granted, there are some natural disparities based on federal funds (about 7-8%) and demographic differences (primarily low incidence SPED students served), but there is STILL a gigantic disparity.
Our state laws and practices for funding our charters MUST be addressed by the legislature and policy makers. Our charter students who are public school students deserve better. These schools have been living on a shoestring since inception, making compromises that no other school in the state has to make. It is time to fix this! I pray those who have the ability will listen and act. Please share this!
Here is a copy of the University of Arkansas report: http://www.uaedreform.org/
Kelly Cadman is Vice President of School Services at the Georgia Charter Schools Association