Do public charter schools drain money from public district schools? Charter opponents claim they do. However, a 2021 study shows this isn’t true. In fact, district schools often fare better when more students attend charter schools.
The 2021 study, commissioned by the Fordham Institute, looked at independent charter schools in 21 states, including North Carolina. Researchers evaluated “the relationship between the local market share of independent charter schools and the finances of host school districts” between 2000 and 2017. In most states, researchers found that:
… an increase in the percentage of students attending independent charter schools was associated with a significant increase in their host districts’:
Total revenue per pupil
Total spending per pupil
Local revenue per pupil
Per-pupil spending on support services
In North Carolina, charter growth was linked with an increase in districts’ total revenue, spending, and per-pupil spending on support services.
California, the state with more charter schools than any other
What about California, a state that has more charter schools than any other in the U.S.? A new analysis from The 74 Million reviews this study through the lens of a new California law targeting charter growth. The intention of this bill seems to be to limit charter growth. Yet, in California, the revenue of host districts increased as more students attended independent charter schools.
The analysis concludes:
… Expanding California’s charter sector is a win-win proposition. So yes, authorizers in the state should absolutely vet new charter applications – and hold existing schools accountable for their performance during the renewal process. But opponents of charter schools should stop perpetuating the myth that they threaten host district’s finances.