LAO Reports

Comparing Funding for Charter Schools and Their School District Peers

January 26, 2012

 


The 1992 legislation that authorized charter schools in California created a funding model intended to provide charter schools with the same per-pupil operational funding as received by other schools in the same school district. The state subsequently modified this policy in 1998, enacting legislation specifying that “charter school operational funding shall be equal to the total funding that would be available to a similar school district serving a similar pupil population.” This policy remains in place. In this report, we assess whether operational funding received by charter schools and their school district peers is comparable. We (1) describe the funding models used for charter schools and school districts, (2) compare funding rates for the two groups, and (3) provide recommendations to simplify the funding system, maximize flexibility for both school types, and equalize funding rates for charter schools under the current funding system or under a fundamentally restructured system.