Funding and Assistance
There is little question about whether starting a new school orconverting an old one costs money. Both do. The lack of necessaryfunds and assistance, particularly in the early stages ofimplementation, remains one of, if not the, biggest obstacles charterschools face. The costs of planning and operating charter schools arelargely borne by the parents, teachers, and community members whoorganize the schools and contribute intense amounts of energy, time, andmoney to get them started.
Research on charter schools suggests that funding willbe a major obstacle in the future. Lack of funding is particularlyharmful to new schools. In California, at least one school alreadyrelinquished its charter after it failed to secure the necessarystart-up funds (Dianda & Corwin, 1994). Charter schools have had adifficult time raising money for even basic equipment such as desks andbooks (Minnesota House of Representatives, 1994). The vast majority ofcharter school laws do not make provisions for start-up funds, althoughsome states, like Arizona, are beginning to recognize the need and areproviding start-up grants.
Charter schools are typically prohibited by law fromraising funds via bonds or other levies to purchase and maintain schoolfacilities. With limited access to funding, charter schools have oftenbeen forced to acquire less-than-adequate facilities. Schools that areunable to purchase school facilities must rent or lease space that mayor may not be appropriate as a school setting (Minnesota House ofRepresentatives, 1994). In addition, charter schools must bear the costof bringing newly acquired or deteriorating buildings up to code.
Charter schools in several states, includingMinnesota, Colorado, Georgia, and Michigan, can request assistance fromtheir state departments of education (Bierlein & Mulholland, 1994b). Yet even within these states, and certainly in others without thisprovision, charter schools are in need of further technical assistance. Most teachers, and certainly parents, are unfamiliar with planning,management, and budget issues. Specifically, there is a need forassistance with the administration of federal entitlement and specialeducation programs.
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