Thinking about adding capacity or simply providing more space to your current students? Maybe you’ve been in those portables a bit longer than you anticipated? Perhaps it’s time to move out of the old strip mall and into something newer and more modern? Is your landlord giving you the raw deal?
If any of these questions have crossed your mind, attend our Inaugural Texas Facilities Summit! Hosted in Austin in just a few short weeks, this convening will leverage experts from the various aspects related to facilities and financing to help our schools learn more about this constantly evolving space. Schools that acquired facilities ten or fifteen years ago now have many more options for competitive products while newly authorized charters are gaining more attention. While the charter market is slowing down significantly in other parts of the country, we still see a more positive charter environment here in the Lone Star State.
See you in four weeks!
Public charter schools are the fastest growing public school system in the state with student enrollment at 247,236, increasing at more than six times the rate of school districts per year. The demand from Texas families for a charter school seat is also growing with more than 141,000 students on a waiting list. In order to meet this demand with zero facilities funding, public charter schools use classroom dollars for bricks and mortar.
Charter schools receive $1400 less per student on average than other public schools because of the lack of facilities funding. SB 457 seeks to close this funding gap by one-half and provide charter schools with $700 per student. This legislation proposes the state provide facilities funding for public charter schools and puts them on par with the state efforts for property poor school districts.
The Texas Charter Schools Association thanks Senator Donna Campbell for her strong support for public charter schools and we look forward to working with her to ensure all students have access to a quality public education!
The following was published as a Letter to the Editor appearing in The Houston Chronicle on January 29, 2016.
School funding is a mystery to most Texans and can be described as convoluted at best. We appreciate your addressing this matter in your piece of January 24, and share many concerns with using antiquated formulas and measures to fund public schools.
Public charter schools serve more than 227,000 students at more than 600 campuses across Texas. Generally, the students enrolled at a charter school are African American and Hispanic and come from economically disadvantaged homes.
More than 125,000 students are currently on a wait list to attend a charter school. Charter schools simply do not have the means to meet the growing demand for additional seats because they do not receive facilities funding from the state. Period. Charter schools must cannibalize funds from their Maintenance and Operations allotment, funds intended for academic instruction. We cannot dismiss that our counterparts at other public schools receive $5.5 billion in facilities funding annually while charter school students receive nothing.
Critics of charter schools would have you believe the size adjustment and weighted average daily attendance compensates charter schools for what they do not receive in facilities funding. Using the weighted average daily attendance, the gap is an average of $1000 less per student statewide, a number undisputed by any party in the most recent school finance litigation. When using average daily attendance, the gap ranges from $489 at the low end to $4,624 at the high end. Bottom line: a funding gap shortchanges charter school students.
Texas needs to stop penalizing families for choosing charter schools for their children and overhaul the school finance system to provide equitable funding for all public school students.