“The state also cushions the blow to district schools by reimbursing them over a six-year period for some of the aid they lose. It is the most generous reimbursement policy of any state, though it has not always been fully funded. The goal is to give traditional public schools a reasonable period of time to cut costs to account for the loss of state aid.”
With a perceived inequality regarding funding for district schools and charter schools, based on the fact that charter schools are funded on their Oct. 1 Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) in comparison to district schools, which are funded by their average daily membership, both charter schools and district schools want to see change — an equalization in the amount of funding provided by the state.
Weighted average daily attendance, the cost of education index, “golden pennies” — the way state and local tax dollars funds public schools is complex set of concepts that takes time and effort to understand. In addition, as a result of seven lawsuits challenging the system’s constitutionality since 1984, Texas has ended up with a patchwork set of formulas, weights and measures that is updated in some areas and outmoded in others.
Massachusetts’ charter school funding formula should maintain the shared responsibility of state and local governments to fund education, but improvements could address a number of weaknesses and allow money to more easily follow students, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. Additionally, the state should fund “target aid,” increase funding that follows special needs students, and reduce district reimbursements.
North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 reached an agreement with the LEARN Charter School Network this week that will allow the network to open a second charter school in the area but will tie the funding it receives to the needs of the students.
The report, which is certain to be viewed with skepticism by charter supporters, focused on direct and indirect costs related to enrollment, oversight, services to disabled students and other activities on which the district spends money.
This new model essentially splits the difference: The schools will keep the flexibility and autonomy, particularly over hiring and teaching, that have made charters most unlike traditional public schools. But the board becomes manager and regulator, making sure schools abide by policies meant to ensure equity and provide broad services, like managing the cost of particularly expensive special education students, that individual schools might not have the capacity or desire to do.