Charter School Facilities Initiative | Initial Findings from Twelve States

Charter schools across the nation struggle with inadequate and costly facilities. Recognizing
the need for accurate facilities-related data, the Colorado League of Charter Schools (“the League”) developed the Charter School Facilities Survey. The Survey was first administered to charter schools across the state of Colorado. The League published the results of the Colorado Charter School Facilities Survey in a 2008 report entitled “
Shortchanged Charters: How Funding Disparities Hurt Colorado’s Charter Schools.” With the help of the Shortchanged Charters Report, the League was able to move forward state legislation and local policy changes that have positively impacted Colorado’s charter schools.

Eager to help other states obtain similar legislative success for their charter schools, the League launched the Charter School Facilities Initiative (“CSFI”) in conjunction with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (the “Alliance”). The National Charter School Resource Center at American Institutes for Research (“AIR”) [1] has been subcontracting with the Colorado League of Charter Schools to collect the research and data on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education since October of 2011. To date, AIR has subcontracted for the data collection and research of charter school facilities in seven states1: Arkansas2, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Partnering with other organizations, the League has also surveyed Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas. The goal of the CSFI is to identify prominent shortcomings in the current capital landscape and to develop public policy recommendations leading to a comprehensive, long-range system for providing adequate and equitable facilities for public charter schools.

To that end, the CSFI uses the Charter School Facilities Survey to gather objective, reliable, and comprehensive facilities data from each partner state’s charter community. With assistance from the participating states’ charter support organization (“CSO”), the League customized each state survey to fit the local context. The League’s research team assisted with data collection and data analysis and provided each CSO with a state-specific report. Reports for Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas are currently available on

the CSFI website: Final reports from Arkansas, Rhode Island, and South Carolina will be available on the website after each state has released their respective report to their community and local media. To date, 13 states have participated in the Initiative. Table 1 outlines the states that have participated and the timeframe in which the data collection occurred. This report analyzes only 12 of those 13 states as Arkansas data was collected in late spring and the data was not yet available during the analysis represented in this document.