PolitiFact: Do traditional schools get much more capital funding than charter schools?
From PolitiFact Florida:
A Florida House bill that would make school districts share capital funding with charter schools has sparked a debate over how much money the privately run institutions should get.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, would in part require that charter schools have access to local school board levies that are normally reserved for traditional public schools' capital improvements.
Charter schools are financed with taxpayer money but managed by private companies. Initially touted as an option for students attending low-performing public schools, charters have grown in popularity. Critics have complained that too many taxpayer dollars have subsequently been shifted to the private companies that run charters, while traditional schools suffer from a lack of resources.
In a House Appropriations Committee hearing for Fresen's HB 873, Republicans supported equal access to capital improvement funds by charter schools.
"I think it is time that we recognize that there is great disparity, tremendous disparity, in the funding on a per-student basis between our traditional public schools and our charter public schools," said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, at the Feb. 9 hearing.
The bill has drawn some extra scrutiny because Fresen works for an architecture firm that builds charter schools and his sister and brother-in-law are executives for the state's largest charter-school operator. The bill passed Appropriations 19-5 and on Feb. 17 passed the Education Committee, 13-4, both times along party lines. These votes move the bill to the House floor.
The Legislature has argued about charter-school funding for years, and the subject is confusing, to say the least. We wanted to run the numbers to see if Adkins, a candidate for Nassau County Schools superintendent, is correct to say there's a "tremendous disparity" between charter and traditional schools.
It turns out that while the figures aren't so easy to decipher, it seems Adkins has a point.