Is there equitable operational funding and equal access to all state and federal categorical funding?
Connecticut law provides that the state board may grant initial certificates of approval for charters for local and state charter schools. Upon granting an initial certificate of approval for a charter, the state board must submit a copy of the certificate and a summary of the comments made at a required public hearing to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies. The law provides that the General Assembly may appropriate funds to the Department of Education for the purposes of providing funds to local and state charter schools. If such funds are appropriated, an initial certificate of approval for a charter shall be effective and deemed a charter as of July 1st of the fiscal year for which such funds are appropriated.
For local charter schools, state law provides that the local or regional board of education of the school district in which the local charter school is located is responsible for the financial support of such local charter school at a level that is at least equal to the product of the per pupil cost for the prior fiscal year, less the reimbursement pursuant to state law for the current fiscal year, and the number of students attending such local charter school in the current fiscal year.
For state charter schools, Connecticut law provides that the funding comes directly from a separate state appropriation, with no local contribution. The annual per-pupil amount is specified in statute as follows: $11,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 and each fiscal year thereafter.
Connecticut law provides that charter schools are eligible for additional categorical federal and state funds.
For transportation, Connecticut law provides that the school district in which the charter school is located must provide transportation services for charter students who reside in that district unless the charter school makes other arrangements for such transportation. It also allows school districts to provide transportation for those residing outside the district and be reimbursed for the reasonable costs of such transportation.
In a national study of charter school funding (University of Arkansas, Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2014), Connecticut charter schools were receiving on average $11,322 per pupil in public funds, while traditional public schools would have received $18,527 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $7,205 per pupil - or 38.8% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals significant inequities exist both for operational and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).