Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Seattle Schools' Transportation Costs - If We Fund Charter Students, What Will That Mean?

I knew when the charter school initiative was being debated that charter schools were not supposed to get as much money for transportation as real public schools.  In fact, one of the main questions in the application was about transport.

So now it turns out that in the recently passed Budget bill there was a section to cut down the transportation funding.  (This comes to us via the Washington Policy Center.)

Section 505(2)(b) of the House Budget Amendment to the Senate Budget bill, SB 6002, would have required transportation funding for charter school students to be calculated based on “total number of students in the district.”

The voter-approved charter school law, however, requires that, “Allocations for pupil transportation must be calculated on a per student basis based on the allocation for the previous school year to the school district in which the charter school is located” (RCW 28A.710.220(3)).

 If you know our charter law, every charter school is its own district and that would not be much money.  (And, you could rightly say, you want autonomy and not be under a district's thumb, this is what comes with that.)

But this apparently got correct in the finally budget:

“Per student allocations for pupil transportation must be calculated using the allocation for the previous year to the school district in which the charter school is located and the number of eligible students in the district, and must be distributed to the charter school based upon the number of eligible students.”  See final version of SB 6002.

What this means to the entire SPS transportation budget, I don't know.  I will mean more transportation costs to the state as they now may be transporting more kids over longer distances (given any child in the region can attend a charter school).


Eric B said...

I thought the funding allocation was for charter schools to get transportation money from the state, not from their home district. The way I read it, if SPS spent $20M on transportation for 50K students, the charter school in the Seattle area would get $400/student from the state for transportation. I admit I don't have the initiative text in front of me so I could be totally wrong.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Finne seems convinced it comes from the state to the district the charter sits in.