Analysis Finds Large Gaps in Charter Schools’ Access to Facilities

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Washington, DC, December 8, 2016 — Today, education nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners released an analysis of Idaho’s public charter school facilities landscape. The report analyzes data from a new survey of twenty-six Idaho charter school leaders. It describes the current challenges facing charter school leaders as they search for and secure a facility for their schools. “Affordable facilities are a serious inhibitor to the growth of the state’s charter public schools, especially start-up charter schools that might bring different programs and learning opportunities to Idaho’s children and families,” explains Terry Ryan, CEO of Bluum, an Idaho 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

Highlights from the analysis include:

  • Charter school leaders struggle to find and build adequate facilities. As a result, they often have to make significant compromises. For example, just 54 percent of charter school leaders report having a gymnasium and fewer than half have an auditorium or library.
  • Charter school leaders struggle to access financing for their facilities. On average, compared to traditional district schools, charter schools have access to less than one-quarter the per pupil facilities funding ($347 compared to $1,445). Spending operating dollars on facilities often means that charter leaders are not able to afford the variety of programming their students desire.
  • Charter schools are able to construct and renovate facilities at a fraction of what district schools spend per seat and per square foot.

The report recommends that policymakers consider three key ways to support charter schools’ access to facilities:

  • Enable charter schools to access vacant district, municipal, or state-owned facilities for free or at a low cost;
  • Give charter schools access to local school funding streams including bonds and levies; and
  • Increase funding allocations for existing programs including the per-pupil facilities allocation and the public charter school debt reserve.

The report can be accessed online here.

ABOUT BELLWETHER
Bellwether Education Partners is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit of more than 50 professionals dedicated to helping education organizations become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for the most underserved students.

For more information, contact: Heather Buchheim, Senior Communications Manager at Bellwether Education Partners, at heather.buchheim@bellwethereducation.org.