High-Quality Public School Options for Students
Meeting the unique needs of individual students, families and communities through public charter schools.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have the freedom to meet the unique needs of their students. Instead of being run directly by a school district, they operate under a performance contract with a district, state or other approved entity. Public charter schools are able to have a specific focus—such as STEM education, the arts or language immersion—as well as a unique teaching style—such as project-based learning, classical education or blended learning. Public charter schools create a path for communities to solve local problems and provide families with high-quality public school alternatives.
ExcelinEd promotes the expansion of high-quality public charter schools in states to provide parents with effective public school options that best meet the needs of their child.
Addressing Charter Facility Needs
Nationwide, over 3 million students are enrolled in public charter schools, and an additional 2 million students want to attend a charter school but cannot access one. Despite their obvious success, public charter schools often lack access to affordable facilities.
ExcelinEd has developed a methodology called the Charter Facility Index by which states can assess whether they are addressing the full facility needs of charter schools. Lack of access to affordable facilities is one of the most critical issues facing charter schools across the country. This reality can stifle the growth of existing charter schools and limit the expansion of new quality public school options for our nation’s families.
It takes a combination of tools to fully address the facility needs of charter schools in a state. There are three policy areas a state can leverage to address charter school facility needs:
- Funding – States can provide direct funding to charter schools to pay for facilities. Charter schools can use this funding to pay monthly rent or mortgage payments if they own their buildings. States typically provide facility funding on a per-student basis, and states often make restrictions on which charter schools are eligible and types of facility expenses allowed.
- Facilities – States can provide charter schools with no-cost access to public facilities. Typically, these facilities are owned by traditional school districts, which must identify the buildings as no longer need. Charter schools have to go through a process to qualify for these surplus facilities, and it can be difficult for charter schools to actually gain access.
- Financing – States can provide affordable financing so that each charter school can buy its own building by guaranteeing tax-exempt bonds issued for charter schools and subsidizing the financing fees. States typically place requirements on which charter schools are eligible for this type of financing. Without state support, financing for charter school facilities may be cost prohibitive. See Addressing Charter School Facility Needs for more on financing.
With any of these policies, magnitude matters. A major investment in one tool may reduce the need for another. If many charter schools can access free facilities, fewer charter schools need funding for rent.
Recent Charter Schools News and Blogs
- #AskExcelinEd: How well is Indiana addressing public charter school facilities needs?
- Can districts and charters form Pandemic Pods too?
- #AskExcelinEd: 4 Questions to Assess Parent Satisfaction with Distance Learning
- New York is closing a charter school to ‘save’ money. But at what cost to students?
- GUEST BLOG: Can I Be a Pioneer?
- #FactFriday: There are at least 13 types of charter schools
- Three Examples: Elementary Charters Instructing Young Children at a Distance
- Charters Are Different and Especially Local – A Poem
- #AskExcelinEd: How are charter schools actively serving their communities in 2020?
- Protecting Students in Charter Schools During the COVID-19 Financial Crisis