CEA: All Public School Students Deserve Equal Public School Funding
Monday, January 23, 2017
The Colorado Education Association (CEA), the state’s largest teachers union, recently released a statement opposing Senate Bill 17-061. The statement included untrue claims about charter public schools that cannot remain unanswered.
Charter schools are public schools that have existed in Colorado for nearly 25 years. Currently there are 238 charter public schools in Colorado serving nearly 115,000 students. If all of those students were combined into one school district, it would be the largest district in the state.
Charter school students are public school students – and their parents are taxpayers.
Senate Bill 17-061 would level the playing field to ensure that ALL public school students in Colorado are funded equally. In a time of limited resources, it is more important than ever to ensure every child has equal access to public resources for public education.
Charter Schools are Held to the Same Standards of Accountability and Transparency as Other Public Schools in the State
- Charters must follow the same Public School Financial Transparency Act as every district in the state, which requires them to regularly post online detailed financial information such as check registers and credit card receipts. They also must complete annual financial audits which are reviewed by their authorizer during their yearly performance review.
- Charters are subject to the same sunshine laws regarding open meetings and open records as all other schools in the state.
- Charters must adhere to the same state accountability standards as every other public school in Colorado. This means administering annual state tests, and answering for the results of those tests. In fact, if a charter school continually underperforms, the timeline for districts to begin closely examining and considering action against that school is just two years; this same timeline can be as much as five years in the case of other poor-performing public schools.
All Public Schools Can Accept Gifts, Grants and Donations
- Charter public schools and traditional public schools alike can accept gifts, grants and donations from outside benefactors.
- Competitive federal funding is available to support the unique start-up needs of some charter schools, but even with this money as well as any fundraising dollars a charter school might collect, charter public school students are still receiving just 80 cents on the dollar compared to traditional public school students.
Claims about DSST Untrue
- Claims about DSST Public Schools’ mismanagement of public funds were dismissed last spring as categorically false.
Most Colorado School Districts Do Not Share Local Tax Dollars Equitably with Charter Public School Students
- While some districts do share local tax dollars equitably with their charter students, the majority still do not.
- Across the state, mill levy override (MLO) revenue generates upwards of $800 million for Colorado’s public schools.
- Of those districts with charter schools that are receiving MLO revenue, only a third share that revenue equitably or on a nearly equitable basis with their charter school students. This leads to a total estimated funding disparity of $20-$25M across Colorado—which greatly limits opportunity for charter school students.
Charter schools are part of the public school family. Tax revenue collected from all taxpayers in a school district should benefit all public school students in that district.