Charter Schools Do Cost Taxpayers Less
Many in Idaho are led to believe that charter schools cost the taxpayers more than the traditional schools. Not true! The valid point in their argument is that charter schools are usually small and get better funding per student, but so do small traditional schools. Now, a moratorium on charter schools is supported by much of the education establishment. Data from the State Department of Education website reveals that the total expenditure per child in the traditional school setting for FY 2008 in the Caldwell School district was nearly $9,000, and in Nampa nearly $11,000. The expenditure per child in charter schools situated in Canyon County is about $3,000 less.
As previously stated, a charter school receives a little more state funding per student than their traditional school counterparts because the school funding formula recognizes economy of scale and provides additional funding for small schools both traditional and charter, however charter schools do NOT receive any property tax revenue. The traditional school receives property taxes in the form of Emergency levies, Tort levies, Supplemental levies, Plant facility levies, and Bond levies amounting to about an additional $3,000 per student per year. Once again, how much does the charter school receive from the local property taxpayer? None, zero, as they only receive State funding.
The traditional school uses its tax proceeds from the state and local property taxpayer to pay their teachers, their administrators, the utilities, all of the support staff salaries, building maintenance, and the cost to build buildings and the debt service created. What about the charter school? They have the same costs as the traditional school, except they pay ALL of those aforementioned expenses from the State funding without the support of the local property taxpayer. It is not rocket science to determine which is the best deal for the Idaho taxpayer.
This legislature is facing another year of declining revenues which affords them the unique opportunity to find new and innovative ways to get the most “bang for the buck” and certainly more charter schools is one of the ways to accomplish just that! There are others but fundamentally, legislators must come to the realization that you can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again and somehow expect better results. It is time to first of all ignore the “cries of foul” from the establishment with their goal to place a moratorium and go one better, remove the cap!
The Idaho Charter School movement started 10 years ago with a vision to boost student achievement, accelerate innovation and provide greater opportunity for students, parents and teachers. Since that beginning, Idaho now has 36 charter schools, enrolling over 12,000 students but unfortunately over 7,000 students are on waiting lists who want to enroll in a charter school but due to the cap, are denied the opportunity. With charter schools doing a much better job of educating kids and doing it for substantially less money, how is it possible that an artificial cap be placed on them? It does not make sense!