BOB HOPE OFFICIALS — Charter schools are doing more with less in finances
Published 12:06 am Saturday, April 29, 2023
According to the Texas Charter School Association, there are more than 700 public charter schools in Texas, and they serve an estimated 300,000 students.
The Texas Education Agency authorized the establishment of charter schools in 1995, and the Bob Hope School has been serving students in Port Arthur for 13 years since 2010. Still, there is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to understanding how charter schools are funded.
It is important to understand that charter schools in Texas are publicly funded, and they are overseen by their authorizer, the Texas Education Agency.
As such, charter schools are subject to A-F accountability like all independent school districts. Charter schools are funded by state and federal monies, along with private donations and grants.
Charter schools receive most of their funding from the state via the basic allotment. In 2019-2020, the allotment funded $6,160.00 per student; additional money is allotted depending upon whether the student is in a special program like special education, or if they are classified as an emergent bilingual or economically disadvantaged student.
The allotment’s funds come from the Foundation School Program, which is the source traditional public schools receive funding from also. The state distributes the allotment according to the average daily attendance (ADA) generated by the campuses that make up the charter school system or traditional independent school district.
One important difference though between charter schools and traditional public schools is that charter schools receive no local funding; they cannot levy taxes or receive local tax funds like traditional public schools.
Traditional public schools receive 55 percent of their funding this way; charter schools receive 100 percent of their funding from the state.
While charter schools do receive more funding from the state than traditional independent school districts as they have no access to local funds, this does not translate into more funding per student.
An evaluation of the Texas Education Agency’s Summary of Finances in 2019-2020 found that public charters receive $676 less per student than traditional independent school districts. Adding to this disparity are the allotments that traditional independent school districts have access to that charter schools do not.
For example, traditional independent school districts have access to the Fast Growth Allotment, a $305 million allotment, that the Texas Education Agency awards money from to the fastest growing traditional independent school districts in Texas.
Another large funding disparity between charters and traditional independent school districts is access to facility funding. According to the Texas Charter School Association, traditional independent school districts receive on average around $1700 per student for facility funding raised via local funds in the form of taxes while charters, which have no access to local funds, receive $200 per student.
Districts with high property values generate far more than the average $1700. Ultimately, charter schools must largely rely on private funding or fundraising to acquire facilities, which places them at a disadvantage when compared to traditional public schools.
Despite the challenges of charter school funding in Texas, the Bob Hope School has been very successful because of our CEO’s ability to fundraise through sources such as the Charter School Growth Fund, Brown Foundation and Greater Houston Community Foundation. This has allowed us to open four campuses, and we will be opening our fifth in Baytown in school year 2023-24.
This is very exciting because our aim is to transform the community, and with each passing year we have been able to substantially increase our reach in giving parents a choice and accomplishing our vision.
John McLendon is elementary campus director for Bob Hope School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kelsey Borza is the fund developer for Bob Hope Schools. She can be reached at email@example.com.