Location, Location, Location: How Would a High-Performing Charter School Network Fare in Different States?

Andrew Proctor

This report by Bellwether Education Partners investigated the financial
feasibility of a highly successful charter management company, Aspire Public
Schools (California), if it were to operate in 22 different states and the
District of Columbia.

The 23 places, including Ohio, were selected because they already had
operating charter schools and “were recently included in a comprehensive
analysis of charter school finances.” 
Previous research
found that California charter schools fared worse than district counterparts,
receiving 9.2 percent less funding per student. Building on this research, this
brief assumes that Aspire would receive the average level of charter funding
per student in each state.  It also
adjusted for state-specific labor, facility, and operating costs, which vary by
location. They found that Aspire’s native California’s school-funding model,
along with projected educational and building expenses in the state, created some
of the harshest financial conditions for charter school operation nationwide.
In 18 of the 23 states studied, Aspire would have had a greater operating
margin.

How would Aspire have fared in Ohio? Not very well. The state’s poor
relative ranking in this cost-analysis, only $38 per student operating margin,
reveals tough conditions here that limit incentives for high-performing charter
school networks to operate or migrate here. Add this report to the pile of
evidence showing that the Buckeye State needs to address charter-district
school funding inequities. Per pupil funding for Ohio charter schools is about
two-thirds of per pupil funding for traditional public schools.  The state has also eliminated
a $50,000 grant that was designed to help charter schools with start-up costs.

Location,
Location, Location: How Would a
High-Performing Charter School Network Fare in Different States?

Chris Lozier and Andrew J. Rotherham
Bellwether Education Partners
February 2011

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