Updated: Jan 29, 2020
There are many misconceptions about charter schools in West Virginia, perhaps the most common is the statement that charter schools take funding from public schools. This is inaccurate, or at least misleading, for several reasons.
First, West Virginia charter schools are public schools under West Virginia law and so any allocation of funds from traditional public schools to public charter schools is essentially just moving funds inside the same public school system. A very similar movement of funds occurs when any new traditional public school opens that enrolls students who previously attended older traditional public schools.
Second, educational funds largely follow student enrollments, but so do educational costs. So any reduction of funds to a particular traditional public school caused by public charter enrollments would be accompanied by a similar reduction in costs to that traditional public school. Every student taught imposes instructional costs, administrative and transportation costs, maintenance costs, as well as wear and tear on school facilities. Because most traditional public schools operate at break even over the long term, the cost on a per student basis will tend to match the funding for each student on average. Public charter schools alleviate such costs approximately in proportion to the funding allocations.
Third, in certain situations where traditional public schools are facing inefficiencies caused by overcrowding, public charter schools can provide a tremendous benefit by alleviating enrollments freeing up the traditional public schools to function more efficiently and effectively.
Fourth, allocations of funds and costs from traditional public schools to public charter schools does not typically reduce teacher jobs because public charter schools must also hire teachers. The job function for a particular teacher may change based on the specific instructional design adopted by the public charter school, but the total number of teacher jobs in each county would likely not be impacted in any way.
Lastly, public charter schools cannot charge tuition or fees other than fees typically charged by traditional public schools. Public charter schools also must follow the same school attendance policies, provide the same amount of instructional time, and give the same student assessments as any other institution in the public school system. Public charter schools differ from traditional public schools primarily in the instructional design and methods, where public charter schools enjoy greater flexibility.
Can my child go to a public charter school? Not yet, West Virginia Public Charters aren’t allowed to open their doors until the Fall of 2021.
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