The Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA) led a successful policy and advocacy campaign in support of charter school funding and resource equity during the 2021 legislative session. GCSA’s work with state policymakers and local stakeholders enabled the passage of Senate Bill 59, a significant piece of charter school legislation that provides increased funding and flexibility for Georgia’s 70,000 public charter school students. The bill passed the Georgia Senate 40 to 11 and the Georgia House 113 to 51. Governor Kemp signed SB 59 earlier this month.
Under the newly signed legislation, students enrolled in Georgia’s locally-approved public charter schools will receive a dedicated funding weight that increases school allocations by approximately $100 per pupil. That’s expected to bring in nearly $3.4 million in additional funding annually for local charter schools in Georgia.
Additionally, SB 59 requires school districts to provide locally-approved charter schools their proportionate per-pupil share of federal funding. The bill also eliminates an important staff recruitment and retention issue by allowing charter schools multiple opportunities to opt into Georgia’s state health plan. Previously, state and local charter schools had only one chance to sign up for the state health plan during their first year of operation.
State lawmakers also approved an additional $1 million in funding for charter school facilities in the state’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, which means annual funding in Georgia's Charter School Facility Grant will now total $4.5 million. This fund will provide every charter school in Georgia approximately $50,000 in grant funding to help offset facility costs in the upcoming fiscal year.
Tony Roberts is the president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.