Education News

Charter Schools Get Boost From Texas Lawmakers

Texas joins 15 other states and Washington, D.C. that provide charter schools with facility funding, based on how many students they enroll.

Charter networks, like Harmony Public Schools, will start to receive $200 per student for buildings and other facilities, like science labs and playgrounds, starting in the 2018-19 school year.

It’s not uncommon to find charter schools teaching kids in former grocery stores, old furniture warehouses and other unconventional schoolhouses.

Since charter schools started in Texas in the late 1990s, they’ve haven’t received any dedicated funding for their facilities.

That will change in 2018-19 school year, when charter schools start to receive $200 per student to pay for rent or build facilities.

“It’s a historic achievement for charter schools in Texas,” said David Dunn, president of the Texas Charter Schools Association.

Texas joins 15 other states and Washington, D.C. that provide charters with facility funding, based on the number of their students, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

Here in Texas, charter schools have pushed for this kind of facility funding almost since they started two decades ago. Dunn’s association actively started lobbying for it in the 2009 Texas Legislature.

They finally gained the funding in the school finance bill passed at the end of the special session this August. It included up to $60 million for charter school facilities. 

During both the regular and the special session, public school advocates wanted lawmakers to put more money into traditional public schools.

“Well, it’s not taking anything away from traditional public schools,” Dunn said. “And in fact, what it is is growing the revenue for all of public education.”

Others argue that public schools – especially those that are growing very fast – haven’t seen needed money for their facilities.

Dunn said that the new funding means that many charter schools can expand and enroll more students on the waiting list.

Overall, charter schools in Texas enroll about 275,000 children.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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