Yes, Charters Do Hurt Public School Funding

THE Journal: Does the proliferation of charter schools hurt public-school funding? Yes, it does, according to a new working paper from Duke University.

Two researchers, Helen Ladd from Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy, and John Singleton, from the Economics Department, based their research "on detailed balance sheet information" for a sample of school districts in their own state of North Carolina, which saw significant charter entry when a statewide cap of 100 charters was lifted in 2011.

The project examined the fiscal impact on charter schools for one medium-sized urban and five non-urban districts. The effect varies, they wrote, based on multiple factors: the share of students lost to charters, the amount of flexibility the districts have to adjust their budgets, and the types of students that decide to enroll in the charter schools. As a result, the financial hit will also vary among districts. For example, the researchers wrote, "non-urban school districts, which tend to be smaller and lower density, may have more limited latitude for adjusting their spending when they lose enrollments to charter schools than urban districts."

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