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funding gap, funding formula


Charter schooling has grown in popularity since the first charter school opened in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1992. Nearly 3.5 million students in the United States attended a public charter school in 2019-20. Our team has studied charter school funding equity since 2002-03 and most recently found that, in 2017-18, charter schools received, on average, 33 percent less funding than traditional public schools (TPS) in 18 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Camden, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Houston, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Washington, DC. Each of these cities either has a large charter sector or potential for significant charter growth. In this study, we examine charter school funding equity in those 18 cities using 2019-20 data, the most recent available. We use official school district and state budget documents to capture every dollar flowing to schools, including in-kind services. We answer the following questions: What is the difference in per-pupil revenue between TPS and charter schools in major US cities in the 2019-20 school year? Do differences in student demographics explain any funding differences between TPS and charter schools? Does the relationship between TPS and charter school funding vary across categories of school revenue? Which cities are driving the results?