Innovations in Education: Making Charter School Facilities More Affordable: State-driven Policy Approaches
December 2008
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Policy Considerations Regarding Direct Cash Assistance for Facilities

Interview respondents from the five jurisdictions with relatively high per-pupil facilities aid generally express satisfaction with their current funding models. But they suggest that policymakers consider:

  • Adjusting funding formulas for growth in charter enrollment. Three of the five entities profiled in this section (Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.) have annual allocation formulas designed to take enrollment growth into account. Others would like to move in this direction. In New Mexico, the NMCCS seeks to change the state's funding model so that the overall program funding level each year is based, in part, on changes in charter enrollment.

  • Adjusting funding formulas for inflation, particularly in facilities-related costs. Arizona respondents Sigmund and Kaprosy argue that the amount of aid for charter facilities should grow at the rate of a construction inflation index, which Arizona uses to adjust traditional public schools' funding when capital costs significantly increase. Sigmund points out that while Arizona's index has increased more than 12 percent per square foot over the past two years, the amount of facilities assistance for charter schools in the state has increased only 2 percent over the same period.23 Noting that Minnesota's lease aid grant amount also is due for an inflation adjustment, Schroeder suggests that states create adjustment mechanisms that account for local variations in the costs of living and construction.

  • Allowing flexibility in use of state aid intended to assist with cost of charter school facilities. Two jurisdictions highlighted in this guide for their facilities aid approaches (Arizona and Washington, D.C.) offer charter schools the flexibility to direct these funds where they deem them most needed. By not restricting this use of funding, these jurisdictions may encourage charter schools to be economical in their choices related to facilities because any leftover funds can be directed toward other needs. Many respondents cited the value of such flexibility.

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Last Modified: 02/05/2009