National Report Finds Funding Inequities For D.C. Charter Schools

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Contact: Audrey Williams  202-328-2748
Washington, D.C. — Charter schools are significantly underfunded relative to local district schools, according to a national study conducted by Ball State University.   The study, which was released today, examined charter schools in 24 states and Washington, D.C. during the 2006-2007 school year and analyzed state-level funding disparities between charter schools and local public school districts.  In the District of Columbia, the study found that charter schools received 41 percent less funding than D.C. public schools (DCPS) – charter schools received $17,525 per pupil versus $29,808 per pupil for DCPS, a difference of $12,283 per pupil.  D.C. public charter schools educated 25.6 percent of the district’s students during 2006-2007, but the schools received only 16.8 percent of the total education funding.
“The report verifies our suspicions about inequity,” said Josephine Baker, Executive Director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board.  “Last year the Board was asked by Council Chair Vincent Gray to lead a working group to examine facilities funding for charter schools and the findings were clear – charter school per pupil facilities funding has historically been insufficient to meet actual costs and has been less than DCPS per pupil facilities funding,” Baker said.  “What was even more glaring in the Ball State University report is that the District government and the U.S. Treasury provide revenue to cover retirement costs for DCPS teachers, but retirement comes out of the per pupil funds for charter school teachers.”  According to the report, in FY07, D.C. Retirement Board contributed $233 million toward teacher retirement through direct payments from the city and from investments, while the U.S. Treasury contributed an additional $68.6 million toward teacher retirement.

The report also found that while the District of Columbia was one of the few states/municipalities in the study to offer facilities funding to charter schools, the charter schools did not receive an amount equal to the local school district.  In FY 2006-2007, the District of Columbia provided DCPS $145,739,636 for capital projects, or $3,023 per pupil.  D.C. charters received just $2,810 per pupil in general operating revenues for facilities, a disparity of $213 per pupil.  Baker said the disparity is even greater today.  According to an analysis by Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), the FY2011 facilities budget for DCPS amounts to $6,000 per student versus $3,000 facilities allotment per student for charter schools.

The D.C. Public Charter School Board currently oversees 57 public charter schools on 99 campuses, serving approximately 28,000 students living in every ward of the city.  Public charter schools now serve 38% of all public school students in Washington, D.C.

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