Florida's charter schools, such as the Island School on Boca Grande, receive an estimated 70 cents for every $1 of revenue per full-time student compared with traditional public schools, according to analysis by Florida TaxWatch, a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog.
The report shows that while approximately one in 15 Florida students will attend a charter school this year, there are significant differences in funding levels between charter school students and those at a traditional public school.
"This report shows that while charter schools are a viable alternative to the traditional public school model, the funding disparity puts those students whose parents have chosen a non-traditional option at a disadvantage, and the Legislature has the means to correct this inequity," said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Discovering and highlighting these research findings can help to reduce or correct this difference, and allow us to invest equally in each of our students, to ensure that each and every child has the chance to excel in the educational environment that best suits them and their parents. That is the essence of school choice and healthy competition."
The report recommends several possible changes to ensure allocated dollars for each student are passed directly to the appropriate institution to help provide funding parity between charter schools and traditional public schools, including adjusting state funding to account for locally derived funding un available to charter schools specifically.
State Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, a strong supporter of charter school funding reforms, said growing enrollment in charter public schools and the disparity in funding, the current model is not sustainable.
"It must be addressed," Adkins said. "I believe parents should have a choice in which public school their child attends and that choice should not result in less funding for that child's school. I appreciate the thought-leadership shown by Florida TaxWatch in examining charter school funding and I remain committed to achieving equity in student funding for all students. We should not discriminate among public school students. There should be no winners or losers depending on the type of public schools our students attend."
Florida TaxWatch is widely recognized as a watchdog of tax dollars. Go to FloridaTaxWatch.org.