Bill filed to increase charter school funding

January 28, 2017
January 28, 2017

AUSTIN — A bill filed with the state House this week seeks to offer charter schools equal funding to traditional public schools.

State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) filed House Bill 1269 to increase public funding for charter schools based on state average testing requirements and the economic characteristics of their students. Under Villalba’s bill, charter schools that have exceeded state academic standards would receive additional state funds to provide for facilities funding. Currently charter schools do not receive facilities funding from the state.

There are several charter schools in Bell County. Most are in Killeen, but Temple is home to Temple Charter Academy and Nolan Creek Charter School recently opened in Belton.

“Public charter schools enhance school choice options for parents while providing for additional funding for public school children,” Villalba said. “A competitive education environment benefits all children from public school children like my own to kids trapped in underperforming traditional ISD schools.”

According to a press release from his office, Villalba sends his two daughters to Dallas public schools, and he plans to send his son to a Dallas Independent School District school once he is old enough.

“I know I can’t change the world in one bill, but I know I can change the world for those students who will benefit from exemplary public charter schools,” he said.

Robin Battershell, superintendent of Temple Independent School District, said that additional funding for charter schools should not affect TISD schools.

“As long as it doesn’t come out of existing public school funds I don’t have any trouble with that,” Battershell said. “I just don’t want to slice a thin pie any thinner.”

Ken Wiseman, principal of Nolan Creek Charter School in Belton, said that although lack of building funds keeps his budget lean, charter schools find ways to make things work.

“We are a public school; we’re funded like other public schools with the exception of facilities,” Wiseman said. “Generally, charters run very lean operations.”

Charter schools sometimes rely on private donations to make up the holes in their budgets.

“Sometimes we do some fundraising so we can have some extra for painting walls and equipment and some of the other things people take for granted,” Wiseman said. “Our parent organization, Orenda Education, has a very high financial rating with the state.”

Farish Mozley, a spokesman for Villalba’s office, said that funding for this program, if passed, would not come from existing public school funding.

“The funding ... will come from general revenue,” Mozley said.

Mozley characterized the bill as an attempt to find a middle ground in current school choice debates by expanding the public school options available to parents.

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