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Charter School Funding Can Hurt Small Districts

The way charter schools are funded can have a serious negative effect on the budgets of small, rural districts, according to the Rural School and Community Trust.

The nonprofit rural education advocacy group recently posted an article, Some Effects of Charter School Funding Plans on Smaller School Districts, explaining what charter schools are, how they're funded, and why that matters to small, rural districts.

Charter schools typically get the state and local per-pupil funding for their students, which means the money goes from the student who transfers from a traditional school to the charter. That makes a big difference to smaller districts that rely on every penny, according to the Rural Trust.

"A charter with a few hundred, or even several thousand, students might not make a big difference in the ability of a large school district to offer programs for students. But that same charter could trigger the loss of a devastating proportion of a small district's budget," it says.

The article says this is an issue that an increasing number of smaller districts likely will face as states change charter school laws to allow for more rapid expansion.

The Rural Trust cited the situation in Pennsylvania where some say the charter school formula hurts traditional schools and puts their financial viability in jeopardy.

"Like so many other policies, most charter laws seem geared toward urban and suburban circumstances and have had unexpected or unintended consequences for rural and small town school districts," according to the Rural Trust.

The article also touches on race, specifically the perception among some that charter schools will end up being segregated havens for white students.

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