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New Bill Would Require School Districts to Share More Funds with Charter Schools

Jan 28, 2016 08:55AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Aimee L. Cook | aimee@mycityjournals.com

West Valley - Charter schools, like Roots in West Valley, may be getting a large funding boost thanks to a new bill created by the Charter School Funding Task Force. The new bill would require school districts to divvy up more of their revenue to charter schools. 

“We believe the Charter School Funding Task Force is making a necessary and important step to ensure charter school students receive the funding they deserve,” Executive Director of Utah Association of Charter Schools Royce Van Tassell, said. “Districts and charter schools are both part of the education system, and there should be no difference in their funding levels. No child in Utah should receive less for their education, simply because their parents chose to take advantage of the unique and innovative programs offered by Utah’s charter schools.” 

The bill would change the formula known as the local replacement that works as an alternative to property taxes that school districts get to utilize, but not charter schools, and could result in a $16 million dollar increase to charter school funding. 

According to The Utah Association of Charter Schools; “The Local Replacement Fund (LRF) represents a series of legislative compromises. Over time, those compromises have cost Utah charter schools tens of millions of dollars. In 2005 the non-partisan Utah Foundation recommended that the LRF include state guarantees to school districts’ voted, board and capital outlay levies. By their estimates, including these guarantees would have netted charter schools an additional $229 per pupil per year clear back in 2004.”

Roots Charter High School would be on the receiving end of the new bill. Roots is Utah’s first farm-based charter high school. This hands-on school utilizes an actual farm as a classroom, teaching students real life problem solving skills while living sustainable lives. 

“Like all public charter schools, the funding Roots receives from taxpayers to fund education is several hundred dollars per student less than what students receive when they attend a district public school,” Roots founder, Tyler Bastian, said. “We are glad that the legislature is recognizing and putting dollars behind the truth that the value of a child’s education doesn’t go down just because they attend a public charter school like Roots.”   

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