AP NEWS

Group: Missouri charter schools miss out on revenue

April 8, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s charter schools have missed out on millions of dollars in local funding over the past decade, according to an industry group.

The Missouri Charter Public School Association told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a fiscal review reveals funding inequities dating to 2007 when the state changed its laws regarding school aid distribution.

Lawmakers didn’t allow the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant charter schools the same local tax revenues that other public schools receive, such as the merchants and manufacturers tax, the group said.

The changes also froze funding from property taxes and other regional fees for charter schools. The state calculates that portion of local funding from 2005 figures for charter schools, while public schools see taxes based on the previous year’s revenue.

In St. Louis, property tax revenue has increased by roughly 28% from 2005 to 2017, but charter schools haven’t seen a financial boost, according to the association.

“None of this was intentional,” said Douglas Thaman, the group’s executive director. “It was the way the law was drafted and approved. It wasn’t some draconian plot. It’s just the way things worked out and created some unintended consequences.”

The review comes as the Legislature considers a bill to fix the funding inequities. Republican Sen. Ed Emery filed legislation this year to ensure that charter schools get “all local revenue received by the school district.

The measure passed out of a Senate committee last month. But it has received opposition from St. Louis Public Schools and the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

Brent Ghan, the school board association’s deputy executive director, said Missouri needs to address the academic oversight of charter schools first. Missouri charter schools operate separately from public school districts under their own boards.

“No matter the amount, they still are receiving some public money and as long as they are receiving public money, they need to be held to the same accountability standards so that taxpayers can understand how their money is being spent and if it’s being spent effectively or not,” Ghan said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com