Press Release: Online Charter Schools increase district Funding per student


Contact: Christina Martin
Cascade Policy Institute
Tel.: 503-242-0900
Fax: 503-242-3822

Online Charter Schools increase district Funding per student

Download the full report

PORTLAND – A student transfer to an online charter school can enable the student’s home district, and the charter schools’ sponsoring district, to spend more money per traditional public school student, according to a study released today by Cascade Policy Institute.

“Virtual charter schools have very little impact on districts’ funding overall, and will usually even increase per student spending for students in district schools,” says Eric Fruits, Ph.D., the author of the report. Fruits, an economist, is president of Economics International Corp.

Key findings of the report, Fiscal Impacts of Oregon Online Charter Schools, include:

  • In the 2007-08 school year, online charter schools claimed 0.7% of public school students. However, they only received about 0.6% of state education General Purpose Grant funds. In Oregon, this only reduced local districts’ state education funding by a total of 0.4%.
  • Transfers to online charter schools can increase or decrease a district’s overall funding. In some cases it will have no impact.
  • Even when a district’s overall funding decreases from student transfers to charter schools, this usually will allow the district to spend more money per remaining student.

Unlike ordinary public schools, online charter schools do not receive local funding, and they receive less state per-student funding than traditional public schools.

“When you look at the bigger funding picture, virtual charter schools have very little financial impact on school districts, but they have a huge impact on each child that thrives in an online school,” says Christina Martin of Cascade Policy Institute. “These schools are an important option for families, and kids should not have their access limited by an arbitrary enrollment cap.”

The legislature will consider a recommendation from the State Board of Education that would allow school districts to deny additional students access to virtual charter schools once 3% have enrolled in the online option. According to members of the board, the recommendation is intended to protect districts from any significant financial impacts caused by large numbers of student transfers. Members of the House Education Committee have said that the committee will bring legisllegislation based on the State Board of Education’s recommendations.

Download the full report

Christina Martin is a policy analyst for the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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