If your state Charter School Organization (CSO) is currently participating in, or considering participating in the Charter School Facility Initiative, below is helpful information to assist you in getting the best participation from your state's charter schools.
Why Every School Needs to Participate
Because your state's charter support organization has received feedback from charter schools showing that facilities challenges are a high priority and concern for charter schools, and this is your chance to act.
- This is the first survey of its kind in your state
- To identify breath and magnitude of facility needs
- To determine financial needs and gaps
- To inform the public policy and legislative processes
- To provide leverage for a permanent capital funding stream
- To gather evidence for litigation if necessary
- This is an investment in improving charter school access to quality facilities
The Charter School Facilities Initiative is comprised of national partners, including the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the National Charter School Resource Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
Being selected to participate in the Charter School Facilities Initiative is an accomplishment and an honor.
To date, 14 states have participated in this project: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
As a result of the Charter Support Organization efforts, your state has been chosen to participate in this national project.
The data obtained during this project will be used to advance the CSOs advocacy and policy goals around charter school facilities equity.
Other states that have participated in the Charter School Facilities Initiative have already seen very positive legislative changes, for example:
- Colorado: Has consistently used in the data gathered via the Charter School Facilities Initiative to highlight the facilities challenges faced by charter schools. In 2014, the facilities data was used to make a case for increased funding for the Charter School Capital Construction Fund (state grant funding for charter school facilities). This fund was increased from $5 million annually to $18 million annually. In addition, the state’s moral obligation program which allows eligible charters to use the state’s credit rating to secure facilities had its cap raised to $500 million, marking the first raise in this cap in over eight years.
- Idaho: In 2013, data from the facilities initiative in Idaho helped pass legislation that provides up to $1.4 million to the 40 charter schools operating across the state, to help cover building and maintenance costs. "The facilities report helped charter schools in Idaho, for the very first time, get some facility dollars from the state this year (about $120 per student in 2013-14 and $180 in 2014-15),” said Suzanne Metzgar, Director of Member Services, Idaho Charter School Network.
- Massachusetts: Thanks to data from the facilities initiative, the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency was awarded $2,671,388 by the U.S. Department of Education to issue guarantees on behalf of charter schools to guarantee a portion of a loan or bond made to a charter school to improve its school facility.
- South Carolina: The charter facilities initiative had a direct impact in South Carolina. It resulted in the passage of the Charter Facility Tax Bill, which exempts charter schools from all state or local taxes, except sales tax, on both owned and leased facilities. In addition, the state created a revolving loan fund for charter schools. “The Charter Facility Tax Bill is a direct result of the work on the facilities study. The facility survey has helped SC frame the facility conversation for legislators and key decision makers as well as build a foundation for greatly improved future charter facilities development," said Mary Carmichael, Executive Director, Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina.
- New Jersey: Data from the facilities initiative in New Jersey helped create $125 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) to support the construction, expansion or enhancement of charter schools in the state.
- Texas and New York: Facilities initiative data in Texas and New York have been used in litigation in legal proceedings related to charter school access to equitable facilities.