Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Charter School Bill Before Senate - Contact Your Senator TODAY

Contact your Senator TODAY and urge him or her to vote against SB 440. This bill would require, among other things, public school boards to give charter schools at least 90% of the state and local share of the Standards of Quality per pupil funding.

The General Assembly has never required that a set percentage or amount of funding be sent by a school board to any other type of school, including Governor’s schools and other regional programs. Charter schools should be treated no differently.

In testimony before the House Education Committee, the Secretary of Education stated that currently charter schools in Virginia receive in excess of 90% of state and local per pupil funding. It would appear that SB 440 is intended to fix a problem that does not exist. If passed, SB 440 may well cause a problem in that 90% will become not only the floor but also the ceiling for charter school funding.

Under the current law, the amount of funding provided to a charter school is a matter of negotiation between the school board and the charter school. Those negotiations take into account many factors that may impact funding, such as whether the school board will provide transportation for charter school students, the programs offered at the charter school, and the make-up of the student body at the charter school.
Ninety percent of per pupil funding is an arbitrary figure that bears no relation to the actual costs of operating a charter school. Indeed, the cost of operating a charter school, or any other school, depends upon many variable factors, including the student population, the programs offered, and the facilities used. One charter school may need more than 90 % of state and local per pupil funds while another charter school may need less funding to operate efficiently. Further, there is no evidence to support 90% funding or funding of any particular percentage.

In addition, many charter schools have access to additional types of funding not available to regular public schools. Requiring school boards to give an arbitrary amount of funding to charter schools without regard to the needs of the particular charter school or other funding available to the charter school is not good policy.

Ask you Senator to vote NO on SB 440.