To Improve Charter Schools, Declare Their Budgets Independent from Public Schools

These days, charter schools are at the center of many conversations about education. On the surface, charter schools seem like a viable option for students. So why the controversy? Like anything, charter schools aren’t perfect, and how to improve charter schools is a valid question to ask. The best way to improve them is to separate their funding from public schools.

Stop Draining Money from Public Schools

One may argue that charter schools can’t take money from public schools. By their nature, charter schools are public schools. However, that is only the surface of the issue. Charter schools receive funding on a per-pupil basis. They’re paid based on how many students they attract. However, each student attending a charter school means one fewer attending a public school. With a smaller school population comes a smaller budget.

It may be easy to say schools should just trim down their budgets, but it isn’t that easy. There are fixed costs to educating students that don’t fluctuate with the student population. A Pennsylvania study found schools could recoup no more than 20% of the funding lost to charter schools. Trimming the budget wasn’t enough. Those schools then had to provide for their students with significantly less money than before.

The simple fact is that charter schools siphon money from public schools. To make charter schools a viable, equitable choice, they must find their funding independently.