How are public charter schools funded and what is Senate Bill 6194?

Public charter schools are funded based on student enrollment, just like traditional public schools. Like any public school, public charter schools depend on a mix of federal and state funding.

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that public charter schools cannot be considered “common schools,” because they are not controlled directly by local school boards. Because of a hundred-year-old technicality, our public charter schools lost 20 percent of their funding and the future of these innovative and vital schools is at risk. We’re asking lawmakers to fix the glitch.

Senate Bill 6194 would do just that. It honors the will of Washington voters by reinstating and updating the 2012 voter-approved public charter school law to keep public charter schools open and address the uncertainty students face as a result of the court’s ruling.

Funding would come from the state’s Opportunity Pathways Account, which contains lottery revenues. The change does not affect the amount of money taxpayers or the state pays for each student. It simply designates a different source of funds for the students in public charter schools.

The court did not rule that public charter schools must be common schools to constitutionally exist. In fact, the Washington State Constitution allows for public schools that do not fall under the definition of common schools.

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