Statewide, charter schools receive roughly 25% less funding per student than their traditional district school counterparts. This disparity is more severe in Western New York than anywhere else in the State. In Buffalo for example, charter schools receive roughly 40% less than their traditional district school counterparts. From that already limited funding source, most charter schools, and all Western New York charter schools, have to pay facilities costs, such as rent and utilities.
Charter school students statewide receive $5,232 less than students in traditional district schools. This disparity is much worse in Western New York. In Buffalo for example, charter school students receive $9,811 less than their friends and neighbors in district schools. For the average charter school in Buffalo, which serves roughly 547 students per year, this disparity equates to more than $5.3 million less in per pupil funding each year. That’s millions of dollars’ worth of resources, services, school improvements, and innovations that charter school students are deprived of every year.
Charter School Funding Inequality in New York by City
In addition to receiving less funding overall, most charter schools, and all Western New York Charter schools, have to pay facilities costs to cover expenses like rent and utilities. These costs can range from 12 to 15 percent of the funds provided to a school; funds that would otherwise be used to hire more teachers, buy more books, update computers, and increase resources to admit and serve more students.
For Western New York in particular, when taking into account the money that charter schools are forced to spend on facilities, charter schools are left with about 50% of the money spent on traditional district school students to put towards actually educating their students.
As public school students, attending public schools, charter school students are entitled to the same funding and support as their public school counterparts. The State’s decision not to provide charter schools with facilities funding, and decision to fund charter school students in a manner that results in these students receiving as little as half the support that traditional public school students receive, serves no purpose but to limit the ability of charter schools to provide students with the high quality educational opportunities that these children deserve and these schools were designed to offer.
This lawsuit asks the Courts to declare that the funding formula denies charter children equal treatment under the law, fails the “sound basic education” test and is discriminatory because of its disproportionate impact on minority students.