Innovations in Education: Making Charter School Facilities More Affordable: State-driven Policy Approaches
December 2008
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PART I Direct Cash Assistance For Facilities

In most instances, public schools receive state education revenue on a per-pupil basis. Because the average public school does not have to procure or improve its own facility—something that is taken care of by its district—per-pupil allocation formulas to individual schools historically have not accounted for capital expenses. Rather, this funding generally has been intended to support a school's instructional program. But charter schools, which typically have to secure their own space, often have had little choice but to tap into those instructional dollars to cover facility costs.14 Compounding this financial squeeze, charter schools usually receive fewer per-pupil dollars to start with, generally receiving a fixed percentage of the per-pupil allocation designated for their traditional peers. Some states grant charter schools less than half the per-pupil dollars that are given to regular public schools.15

To help address the charter school facilities dilemma, policymakers in some states have created a dedicated funding stream to offset the capital or lease expenses of these schools. Typically granted in the form of a separate per-pupil allocation, this funding supplements any instructional revenue given by the state and is provided without any obligation of repayment.

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Last Modified: 02/05/2009