However, contrary to what many opponents of charter schools have asserted, the reason is never a problem with someone wanting to extract money from the charter school. The problem is that usually leaders of charter school teams are academic people who have no idea what it costs to run a charter school. If they do understand the academic costs, they almost never understand the cost of administering a charter school. They may be pretty good at figuring out what a facility might cost, but they ignore the magnitude of maintenance and repairs. They grossly miscalculate things such as utilities. I've even seen prospective schools leave out financial management and IT entirely.
My message is a simple one. Charter school leaders or founders, do your home work. Most of this is not difficult.
- Revenue information is almost always available easily through your authorizer or state department of education.
- Other charter schools are almost always willing to help you estimate costs.
- Simply looking at another charter school's budget can help.
- Review personnel needs. Even if you are outsourcing a function, you will probably need someone in-house to handle the employee interaction.
- Don't assume that you can do something less expensively than other schools, unless you have a solid plan.