New comprehensive report finds Minnesota’s charter school funding well below district levels–particularly in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Minneapolis, MN 2/02/15. Minnesota’s charter schools receive substantially less funding than their district counterparts, with particularly huge gaps in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to a comprehensive study prepared by the Minneapolis-based Clifton, Larson, and Allen and released today.

The study, Minnesota K-12 Funding Analysis: A comparison of public district and charter school revenues stated that the largest gap is in Minneapolis where there is a jaw dropping $4,919 or a 31.7 percent difference per pupil (ADM) between Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and charters in the city. In St. Paul, the difference between St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and its charter counterparts is $3,548, or 24.7 percent difference. The rest of the state’s schools (outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul) have a $954 difference, or an 8.2% difference.

The large disparity in Minneapolis and St. Paul is primarily due to the local levy/referendum in both cities. According to the report “local property taxes are the most significant driver of the differences in revenue composition. Minnesota district schools received an average of 20 percent of funding from local property tax revenues, which charter schools are unable to access.”

“This report is the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the funding disparity between district and charter schools in Minnesota and shows conclusively that there are huge inequities in funding in our public schools in Minnesota”, said Al Fan, Executive Director of Charter School Partners, who commissioned the report. “We are hopeful that policymakers this legislative session will take up this issue and address this inequity so every child in Minnesota’s public school system are funded fairly and equally.”

According to Fan, “the inequitable funding situation is even understated given that charters in the state serve significantly more low-income students (56.7% charters/37.2% districts) and students in whom English is not their first language (18.8% charters/6.5% districts)”.

 

average_funding

 

*  Minneapolis:  The Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) received $17,982 per ADM while charters in Minneapolis received $13,063, a $4,919 or 31.7 percent difference per ADM each year.

*  St. Paul: St Paul Public Schools (SPPS) received $16,117 compared to $12,569 per ADM at St. Paul Charters, a $3,548 or 24.7 percent difference per ADM per year.

*  Beyond the Twin Cities: Considering the rest of the state outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, district schools received $12,102 per ADM on average, while charters received $11,148; a $954 or 8.2 percent difference per ADM per year.

The Minnesota Department of Education reviewed the methodology and resulting report, which included a five year funding period from 2009-10 through 2013-2014, noting the approach taken in conducting the analysis was reasonable for the purposes of the study.


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SPECIAL NOTE:  The Statewide column in the chart above states that the statewide differential is $447 per ADM, or a 3.6% disparity–a number which may seem counter-intuitive given that all other categories  have a larger difference. The reason for this is that 91 percent of district students attended schools outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul during the period of the study, compared to 44 percent of charters, while the majority (66%) attended charter schools in Minneapolis or St. Paul. This difference heavily influences or weights the average.