The charter funding debate

Lots of the conflict is over short-term vs. long-term picture

The charter funding debate

IN THE HIGH-STAKES battle over charter school expansion, the impact of charters on school finances has come front and center. Supporters of Question 2, which would allow up to 12 new charter schools or expansion of 12 existing schools per year, argue that the funding formula for charter schools holds districts harmless when students move from district schools to charter schools. Opponents say the shift of funds to charters is wreaking havoc on district systems and their budgets.

The truth lies somewhere in between.

The principle undergirding charter school funding in the state is that public funds for schools follow the students. When a charter school enrolls a student from a community, it receives the same per-pupil funding that district schools get, which is a combination of state aid and local dollars generated from property taxes.

A recent report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation examined the charter funding issue and concluded that the system has worked remarkably well and largely as envisioned. Last year, according to the report, 3.9 percent of all public school students in the state attended charter schools and charters received 3.9 percent of all public education spending.

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Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

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