As charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania rises, understanding the fiscal impact of charter school expansion is critical for school districts to accurately budget and to anticipate current and future costs.
In order to calculate the fiscal impact of charter expansion, RFA compared the difference between new costs (charter tuition payments) and new savings a district can realize as students depart (variable costs). RFA examined six school districts across Pennsylvania that varied in size, charter penetration rates, and budget. RFA then estimated the fiscal impact of charter expansion under four different charter growth rates, calculating impact in Years 1 and 5. In each, we present fiscal impacts on a per-charter-pupil basis, as a total annual amount, and as a percentage of a district’s charter school tuition rate.
Overall, RFA’s study finds that as charter enrollment expands, the fiscal impact is consistently negative in both the short- and long-term, indicating that even as students depart for charter schools, school districts experience significant long-term fiscal impacts.
In addition to the report, RFA also created a Charter Cost Calculation Tool, which can be used by school districts to create customized estimates of the cost of charter expansion in their districts. The Charter Cost Calculation Tool (Excel) can be downloaded here.
- Study highlights long-term costs of charter school expansion – Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12
New report on PA charter school growth finds ‘stranded costs’ linger 5 years later – Keystone Crossroads (NPR), September 12
New charter report has stark financial implications for Philadelphia – Philadelphia Public School Notebook, September 13
Editorial: The true cost of charter schools – Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19
- Op-ed: Will Pennsylvania pay for charter school choices for all children? – Harrisburg Patriot-News/PennLive, September 21