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.
District schools and charter schools are often at odds. When the two school types share a school building—arrangements known as “co-locations”—the tensions can boil over. But what happens when district and charter leaders approach co-location as a tool to promote school improvement, rather than simply a real estate deal?
Since Los Angeles real estate is expensive, finding suitable space to lease is difficult, city permitting can be a hassle and charters’ access to bond money to build their own buildings limited, co-location is often an “expedient” option for many new charter schools. But discord from troubled co-location sites can drown out the harmony.
The deal sheds light on a growing niche in real estate that aims to help charter operators secure space they would struggle to acquire on their own by appealing to investors, rather than a more traditional roster of philanthropists and foundations.
Now the two states with the most rapid school age population growth, Nevada and Arizona, have joined Florida in trying out Education Savings Accounts. ESAs give parents the option of taking a chunk of the money the state would otherwise spend on their children and using it as they see fit.
This new paper takes the first systematic look at costs associated with implementing personalized learning schools, how leaders of these schools choose to allocate their funds, and what it might take to make personalized learning financially sustainable on public dollars. Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, in partnership with Afton Partners, studied 16 charter elementary and secondary schools with a wide range of personalized learning models from across the country.
Just as venture capitalists have financial incentives for backing education technology ventures—to the tune of $1.85 billion in the U.S. last year alone—and relevant expertise to bring to bear on their efforts, foundations have financial as well as social motivations, and their knowledge and expertise can come in handy, too.
Districts that think through the longer term cost trade-offs up front have a much greater chance of implementing a sustainable and scalable model to serve all students in their district. The Learning Accelerator created this guide to help encourage educators to approach financial planning for blended learning with a focus on developing a multi-year plan.
Few education initiatives in Florida are expanding faster than the Legislature’s efforts to cover education costs for families who want to send their children to private schools. Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income families continues to grow rapidly, aided by 2014 legislation that allowed more families to enroll. And the state’s Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts program is entering its second year, with individual scholarships that allow families to tailor education services for special needs children and young adults.
What I found most noteworthy is how little we know, on a national basis, about how much is spent on special education and what connection any of that spending has to student outcomes. There were a series of reports that came out in the early 2000s on special education funding, and they can be found at the website of the Center for Special Education Finance/Special Education Expenditure Project. But all those reports were based on figures collected during the 1999-2000 school year. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how the state of special education funding has changed since then?