CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITY FUNDING

In July, The Charter School Facility Center at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools published an analysis of state policies relative to Per-Pupil Facility Funding.

According to the analysis there are 18 states that provide per-pupil funding for charter school facilities. Of those 18, 12 states – including Minnesota – provide supplementary funding beyond the overall per-pupil funding formula for schools. (6 states embed any funding for facilities in the general formula).

When one looks closer at the 12 states that provide supplementary per-pupil funding for facilities, Minnesota provides the largest per-pupil funding by statute for facilities, except for Washington DC. In terms of the average per-pupil funding Minnesota ($1,232.94) is twice as high as the next state, New Mexico, and six times higher than Pennsylvania and Texas.

All 12 states have either some eligibility criteria or restrictions on the use of facility funding. For example:

  • 3 states differentiate on how much per-pupil funding a school is eligible for based on the ownership of the building,
  • 4 states preclude virtual schools from receiving facility funding,
  • 5 states connect eligibility to academic performance,
  • 4 states restrict use of the funds to Lease reimbursement costs (including Minnesota)

While Idaho, New Mexico, and Washington DC provide funding simply based on average daily attendance whereas Minnesota is based on adjusted pupil units, the per-pupil amount in their statutes is lower far lower than Minnesota, with the exception of Washington DC.

When one looks at the statutes of all 18 states that provide facilities funding, only Washington DC, and Arizona have a higher amount in statute than Minnesota. New York cannot be compared to any state since it has a hybrid model of facilities – including no cost district space.

So, when you look across the landscape across the country – Minnesota is a top tier state in terms of providing per-pupil facility funding in both statute and in real dollars.

EP

EXAMINING LEASE COSTS

As you know, chartered public schools are prohibited by state law from directly owning buildings using public money, so charter schools are always only tenants – never owners – of the spaces they occupy.

Over the last decade, charter school facilities has been a major focus of the Association and we have worked to enact charter school facility legislation – including direct ownership, state bonding, amending the lease aid law to cover maintenance costs, and leverage incentive for schools in negotiating leases with landlords.

During the same period, we have been keeping track of Lease Aid and the costs of charter school leases. Today, Lease Aid is close to $80 million dollars a year, while lease costs are $100 million a year.  Given that the Lease Aid Law requires that charters pay 10% of the lease cost from general funds, or about 10 million, it also means that charters are paying an additional $10 million out of general funds.

Earlier this week we sent our member schools a LEASE COST WORKSHEET so that schools could look at lease costs from five different perspectives:

  1. Cost Per Square Foot
  2. % of Excess Cost of Lease from General Fund
  3. Amount of Excess Dollars from General Fund
  4. Cost Per Pupil
  5. Square Foot Cost Per Pupil

The LEASE COST WORKSHEET is designed to be a educational tool for school administrators, Boards of Directors, and its Finance Committee given that lease costs for many schools are the second biggest expenditure after personnel costs.