How Are Charter Schools Funded?

California charter schools are publicly funded schools, but HOW they are funded differs from traditional public schools. Money for charter schools comes from four levels: federal, state, local, and private donations. Let’s take a closer look at some of these key differences between charter and traditional public school funding.

State Funding: Per-Pupil Funding

The state of California is the primary source of funding for its charter schools. This funding is based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA). Almond Acres Charter Academy receives funds based on the number of students attending the school.

The amount per student varies depending on the attendance rates of the school, the student’s grade level, and if the student needs additional support services.

Local Funding: Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)

Charter schools, like other public school in California, receive base funding for each student. However, charter schools usually do not have direct access to local property tax revenues for operational costs, which differs from traditional public schools. Additional grants and funds are given to schools that serve high numbers of students in low-income families, are English learners, or are foster youth.

Federal Funding

There are federal programs that provide supportive funding. Charter schools are occasionally eligible for various programs, such as Title I for low-income students, special education funding (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA), and other grants. Funds are distributed based on the specific needs of the students and the programs the school offers.

Other Sources of Funding: Donations

Beyond government-sponsored funds, Almond Acres Charter Academy obtains grants and private donations from families, businesses, and organizations.

Disparity in Funding

According to research from The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, California Charter Schools received 25% less per student per year when compared to traditional public schools.

One of the biggest differences between funding for public schools and funding for charter schools is how their facilities are funded. Traditional public schools often receive funding for facilities from local school district bonds while charter schools are forced to secure their own funds for facilities, which is especially challenging and costly.

Almond Acres Charter School’s new school campus was funded through a private bond. 

In Conclusion

While charter schools in California are publicly funded, they do not receive the same funding as traditional public schools. Charter schools subsequently face challenges with funding facilities, have tighter budgets, and rely on support from private donations and grants.