In Indiana, public charter schools have led to strong academic outcomes, with nearly 70 percent of schools receiving a state grade of A, B or C. Despite their success, most charter schools do not own their own school buildings because they lack access to affordable facility funding.
Using ExcelinEd’s Charter School Facility Index to measure the actual impact of state policies, Indiana is currently meeting only 40% of facility needs for the state’s brick and-mortar charter schools—and on the current path that number will drop to 36% in five years.
This funding gap means charter schools currently have to spend other revenue, which is already lower than for traditional public schools in Indiana, to pay for the remaining 60% cost of their facilities, costing charter schools $1,072 per student. Those are dollars not being spent on learning. For example, with access to that money, an average-sized charter school could hire an additional eight teachers. The facility support gap also means that charter schools will have greater difficulty growing to provide opportunity to more students.
“Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools cannot raise local funding specifically for facilities, and must dip into dollars meant for classroom expenses. Meeting this need is critical so charter schools can use as much of their funding for instruction as possible to meet the growing demand from Hoosier families. Relevant stakeholders, including Indiana policymakers can use this latest research to explore how they can address current and future needs of charter school students and families.”
Al Hubbard, ExcelinEd board member
Through a companion Charter School Facility Index Tool, Indiana policymakers can determine the likely impacts of any proposed changes in state policies. For example, by providing charter schools with access to facility-related local revenue, expanding access to district-provided facilities and enabling affordable facility financing, Indiana could meet a much higher percentage of the need.
For more information on student-centered education funding, visit ExcelinEd’s policy library.