Week 3: Cyber charter funding reform ​

Ask your legislator to support cyber charter school funding reform in the 2024-25 state budget. School districts need reforms that will modernize the Charter School Law to set fairer payments to cyber charter schools while maintaining choices for public education. The focus is NOT on eliminating cyber charter schools as an option for parents, but to reduce the cost and burden of cyber charter tuition on school districts and taxpayers such as: 

  • A statewide cyber charter school tuition rate that does not exceed $10,000 per student for non-special education students with a provision that requires all school districts to pay the statewide tuition rate or their calculated charter school tuition rate, whichever is lower. 
  • A tiered system of funding for special education students similar to the formula used to drive state special education funding to school districts which is based on the needs of the individual student.  

Complete the letter below to send to your legislators.

Talking points: 

  • School districts now spend more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars each year on tuition to cyber charter schools. In each of the last 5 years, mandatory charter school tuition costs have been identified as the top source of budget pressure for school districts which drive property tax increases and cuts to school district programs.  
  • Cyber charter school tuition rates are based on the home school district’s education expenses, not what a cyber charter school spends to provide its educational program. Despite providing all enrolled students with access to the same educational programming, cyber charter schools receive vastly different tuition rates from home school districts. This results in inconsistencies and overpayments to cyber charter schools. 
  • Claims that charter schools receive 25-30% less funding per student are inaccurate. In the 2021-22 school year, charter schools only received 6.1% less funding per student than school districts. And when you take into account the expenses school districts have that charter schools do not, such as mandatory tuition payments to charter schools, that difference is completely justified and yet still results in overpayments to cyber charter schools. 
  • Cyber charter schools do not have the same level of expenses as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, yet they are paid as if they do. These funding flaws allow cyber charter schools to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising, gifts and perks, state-of-the-art facilities, and to amass huge sums of unrestricted taxpayer dollars in reserve funds. 
  • Nearly 98% of special education students enrolled in a cyber charter school require specialized programs and support services which were in the lowest cost tier reported to the Department of Education. Yet, school districts are required to pay the cyber charter school the same tuition rate for all special education students regardless of the actual needs of the student. 

 

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