Is there equitable access to capital funding and facilities?
Arizona law provides charter schools with a per pupil "equalization" allocation called “additional assistance” that may be used for facility operation and construction, among other things. Statute provides that this amount is for $1,807 per K-8 pupil and $2,106.03 per high school pupil.
Arizona law creates a charter schools stimulus fund for the purpose of providing financial support to charter school applicants and charter schools for startup costs and costs associated with renovating or remodeling existing buildings and structures. The fund allows schools to receive up to two grants for up to $100,000 for each grant. The state is not currently funding this program.
Arizona law requires the state department of education, in conjunction with the state department of administration, to compile and publish an annual list of vacant and unused buildings or portions of buildings owned by the state or school districts that may be suitable for the operation of a charter school. However, nothing requires the owner to offer the right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value to charter schools.
Arizona law requires the School Facilities Board to annually submit a list of vacant and unused buildings to the Governor, Senate President, and House Speaker.
Arizona law prohibits school districts from excluding charter schools in bidding if a school district decides to sell or lease unused facilities. However, it specifically states that a school district shall attempt to obtain the highest possible value under current market conditions for the sale or lease of the vacant and unused building or the vacant and unused portion of a building and may not accept an offer from a potential buyer or lessee that is less than an offer from a charter school. The law prohibits the owner of a building from withdrawing he property from sale or lease solely because a charter school is the highest bidder.
Arizona law allows non-profit charter schools to apply for bond financing from Industrial Development Authorities.
Arizona law created a public school credit enhancement fund and funded it at $100 million, which can be leveraged to provide more than $300 million of low-cost financing for quality schools, including charter schools.
The Arizona Credit Enhancement Board (CEB) also guarantees the full principal and interest payments on a charter school’s bonds. Eligibility for the CEB program is based on Arizona’s own state academic performance rating rather than on a third-party credit rating. To be eligible, a school must have an “A” academic rating. For schools that participate, bonds carry the rating of the CEB program (currently “AA-”).