Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists

Meaghan Batdorff, Larry Maloney, Jay May, Daniela Doyle, Bryan Hassel
Ball State University
May 2010

This long-anticipated report reaffirms a sad reality:
Charter schools are woefully underfunded compared to their district
counterparts. It updates and expands upon an earlier Fordham report that
used 2002-03 data. This one examines 2006-07 funding across twenty-five
states, capturing more than 90 percent of the country’s charter school
population. It also deploys a more finely-tuned methodology. On average,
charter schools receive $2,247 fewer than district schools in the same
state, a 19.2 percent difference in per-pupil revenue, a slightly
narrower gap than four years before. Yet funding disparities widened
over the same period in a handful of “deep dive” districts to the tune
of $3,727 or 27.8 percent. Disparities ranged from just 5 percent in
Indiana to a whopping 41 percent in D.C. For an average 250-student
charter in the nation’s capital, that’s a gap of over $3 million.
District disparities ranged from 4.5 percent in Albuquerque to 50.5
percent in Newark. The study also includes detailed state profiles and
extensive slicing and dicing by funding sources (local, state, federal
etc.), grades served, student demographics, and more. It’s a very
valuable, albeit rather dispiriting, addition to our understanding of
the charter cosmos within the U.S. K-12 universe. Read it here.

Stafford Palmieri is a . at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute