FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Nov. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The average disparity in per-pupil funding between traditional public schools and their public charter school counterparts across 18 cities reached $7,796 per-pupil, according to a new report by a research team based at the University of Arkansas. Funding from local sources and an influx of nonpublic funding for traditional public schools were the main culprits for this disparity in education funding in the 2017-18 school year.
The new study, "Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities," examines all sources of revenue including federal, state, local and nonpublic dollars during the 2017-18 school year in 18 cities with a high concentration of enrollment in charter schools or potential for charter school growth.
Charter schools in the 18 cities received on average 33 percent less in total annual funding than traditional schools, topping the previous record high of 27 percent set in fiscal year 2016.
"After analyzing funding gaps between public charter and traditional public schools for over a decade, these findings represent the largest inequity yet, a gap of 33 percent," said Patrick J. Wolf, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and 21st Century Chair in School Choice, University of Arkansas. "This is a wake-up call for policymakers to develop more equitable school funding solutions. Closing the funding gap can help all schools deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for every student."
A lack of local funding was most responsible for the gap. On average, students in charter schools obtained $7,491 less in local funding than their traditional counterparts, a discrepancy of 68 percent.
Nonpublic revenue, including philanthropic giving and student fees, is the second leading cause of the funding gap. Charters received about $1,412 less in nonpublic funding per pupil than traditional schools in 2017-18, a nonpublic funding disparity of 45 percent, representing a net shift of $1,635 since 2016.
State funding sources tended to help close the funding inequities between charter and traditional schools, but not always. On average, charters received $428, or about 5 percent, more state-level per-pupil funding than traditional schools in the same city.
An analysis of the eight cities researchers have studied since 2003 reveals that the overall funding gap favoring traditional schools has more than doubled in real terms since 2003.
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