In the state where charter schools originated, some districts are pulling back on schools. Minnesota has taken steps to give authorizers greater ability to oversee charter schools, but due to funding, districts do not look as positively at schools.
Waseca School District is cutting back. The board chair says, "“It’s not us. Trust me. If that $5,124 [per student] stayed with the school district if the student left, they could have as many [students] as they want.”
Well, of course the district wants the money, even if they don't have the students. Who wouldn't give up customers if they still got the money. That's like Wal-Mart saying, "I don't care if everyone shops at Target, as long as we still get the money." Some question whether or not the money should follow the student or be guaranteed to the district. The fact is that if the same students went to a private school, the district would not receive the money. It seems to me (and perhaps I'm not thinking clearly) that it's pretty obvious from this example that the money does not belong to the district.
The fact is that charter schools suffer the same dilemma. If they lose students to the district, the charter school loses money. It's not as if this is a one-sided game. In fact, just like Butler and Duke, charter schools have to work extra hard to try to catch up to the district. The district has economies of scale and other advantages that charter schools usually don't have.
So, the district is the entity that is trying to make this a one-sided game. They want the money no matter where the kid is. Rather than trying to work within a budget, they want a projected stable source of funds. Well, I suppose that's natural. Many businesses and individuals would like a steady source of funds. Life tells us that's not realistic. The district has a way of getting that funding back. The way is to be the kind of entity that people believe in and want to support. Districts shouldn't receive money for kids who aren't in their schools. Charter schools have to survive on the funding they get for the kids they educate. Districts should do the same.