Seven essentials about charter schools
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By GreatSchools Staff
6. Charters receive state funding, generally based on their enrollment.
Similar to regular public schools, this funding is based on a formula for each child enrolled in the charter school. However, such formulas vary from school to school and state to state.
In some states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota and New Jersey, charters receive less money than regular schools because states and districts withhold administrative fees. In other states, like California, additional funds are made available to charters to cover facilities and start-up costs.
Many charters have ambitious programs that are not fully funded by state or district formulas and therefore do their own fundraising to obtain grants and additional donations. There is also a limited amount of federal funding to help start new charter schools.
Funding for facilities can be a challenge for charter schools. In some cases, districts provide free space for charters or funding for charters to pay for facilities. But even with this support, charter schools often end up moving multiple times due to the difficulty of finding a permanent home. As you look at a charter school, be sure to ask about its facility status and whether it will need to move again in the future.
7. Charter schools can be closed down by their authorizers.
Authorizers are the entities that grant schools their charter and monitor their performance. Depending on the state, authorizers may include charter boards, school boards, and universities. While each state's charter law is a bit different regarding reasons for a school to be shut down, the key reasons schools close are:
- They can't recruit enough students.
- They can't find a stable space to operate.
- They can't manage their finances.
While this sounds dramatic, in reality authorizers rarely close down charters. When researching a charter school, find out who authorized it and get a copy of the latest performance report generated by the authorizer. Some authorizers do in-depth reviews of their schools, so these reports can give you important insights about the school's long-term viability.