Charter schools receive fewer dollars per pupil than district schools. Though there are year-to-year fluctuations, the average charter school receives 74 cents for every dollar the average district schools receives. Education finance data can be complex and questions often arise as to the best way of presenting them. A question that frequently arises is how to summarize average per pupil revenue. One approach is to average per pupil revenue at the school level and then average within states and the country which gives an unweighted average. This allows one to assess what the average school experiences as far as available funding per pupil. Another approach is to weight each school’s average per pupil revenue by the number of students they enroll as a proportion of all students. This approach allows one to assess the average revenue available across all schools to educate a student. Both approaches are important, but since our focus is at the school level we discuss the summary of the unweighted data. However, we also include the corresponding tables of the weighted data for reference.

In the most recent year of available data, the average charter school receives approximately $4,400 less per student. Per pupil funding in charter schools is less than per pupil funding in 22 out of the 27 states for which we have data. Over the period from 2006-07 through 2016-17, charter school funding increased by $225 per pupil while per pupil funding in district schools increased by $1,139. On average, charter schools receive proportionally more funding from the state (60.0%) than district schools (45.5%).

Table 4.1: Per Pupil Revenue by Sector and Year, Unweighted

Year Charter - Revenue Per Pupil Charter - State Charter - Local District - Revenue Per Pupil District - State District - Local
2007 $11,684 67.2% 20.6% $15,206 46.5% 45.8%
2008 $11,832 67.6% 21.4% $15,396 47.4% 45.2%
2009 $12,508 64.2% 23.9% $15,871 45.9% 45.6%
2010 $12,959 59.6% 23.1% $15,645 43.0% 45.7%
2011 $12,042 63.4% 20.8% $16,698 44.2% 45.4%
2012 $11,924 60.7% 26.7% $15,981 44.0% 47.4%
2013 $11,677 62.3% 26.5% $16,625 43.4% 48.6%
2014 $11,587 63.1% 26.4% $16,550 44.6% 48.2%
2015 $11,706 62.4% 26.7% $16,527 44.3% 48.8%
2016 $11,904 63.4% 26.3% $16,231 45.2% 47.9%
2017 $11,909 60.0% 30.1% $16,345 45.5% 47.7%

Table 4.2: Per Pupil Revenue by Sector and Year, Weighted

Year Charter - Revenue Per Pupil Charter - State Charter - Local District - Revenue Per Pupil District - State District - Local
2007 $10,800 65.8% 24.4% $13,406 46.1% 46.7%
2008 $10,906 65.0% 25.1% $13,485 46.9% 46.1%
2009 $11,404 60.6% 28.9% $13,885 45.9% 46.0%
2010 $11,320 60.0% 23.8% $13,805 42.8% 46.0%
2011 $10,925 60.7% 25.1% $13,479 43.4% 45.9%
2012 $10,779 57.9% 30.6% $13,217 44.4% 46.9%
2013 $10,576 59.5% 30.4% $13,098 44.8% 47.4%
2014 $10,634 61.6% 28.9% $13,698 45.4% 47.3%
2015 $10,777 61.8% 28.7% $14,150 45.7% 47.2%
2016 $10,898 63.8% 27.3% $14,461 45.9% 47.0%
2017 $11,082 59.9% 31.3% $14,638 45.7% 47.3%

Note: Data from Authors’ calculations using the NCES National Public Education Financial Survey 2006-07 through 2016-17. See here for details. Data adjusted for inflation using 2017 constant dollars.

These are select data from charter schools that operate as their own LEA—which accounts for approximately 60 percent of all charter schools—and school districts that have no charter schools within them. On average, charter schools receive $4,000 less per pupil in revenue from all sources and less than $4,400 in the most recent year of data. Charter schools receive a greater proportion of their revenue from state sources than do district schools.


Table 4.3: Per Pupil Revenue by Sector and State, Unweighted

State Charter - Revenue Per Pupil Charter - State Charter - Local District - Revenue Per Pupil District - State District - Local
AR $9,860 75.8% 14.2% $11,180 52.4% 35.9%
AZ $9,411 78.7% 8.9% $14,040 35.6% 48.8%
CT $14,363 74.7% 17.5% $23,557 31.5% 65.9%
DC $26,778 0.0% 93.5% $31,382 0.0% 89.0%
DE $13,000 56.2% 36.7% $18,251 61.6% 32.0%
GA $10,406 78.8% 14.2% $11,831 50.2% 37.8%
ID $7,978 83.4% 8.7% $11,426 67.8% 21.5%
IN $9,976 77.2% 10.8% $12,738 63.2% 30.5%
LA $12,672 41.0% 44.7% $14,204 52.1% 35.7%
MA $19,527 8.4% 86.0% $20,770 33.1% 63.7%
ME $12,679 83.3% 12.7% $17,680 29.3% 64.7%
MI $10,028 82.5% 6.5% $13,057 53.1% 40.5%
MN $15,280 86.7% 5.3% $14,486 67.9% 26.9%
MO $14,423 67.3% 20.5% $12,261 38.5% 52.1%
MS $12,779 40.2% 39.0% $10,146 51.7% 32.3%
NC $9,528 60.5% 34.1% $10,320 64.3% 23.4%
NJ $16,040 8.9% 83.2% $23,593 30.6% 66.0%
NM $11,592 83.6% 9.0% $17,658 70.2% 18.8%
NV $7,569 95.6% 1.6% $17,494 40.2% 53.5%
OH $11,387 80.7% 5.1% $14,087 43.3% 50.5%
OK $7,888 70.7% 17.3% $10,293 47.0% 40.4%
PA $14,927 1.2% 89.6% $18,517 43.4% 52.5%
RI $22,740 55.6% 35.6% $20,013 30.0% 64.7%
SC $18,050 89.7% 5.9% $13,156 52.3% 35.0%
TX $10,213 84.7% 5.3% $14,247 39.2% 53.0%
UT $7,768 84.4% 9.2% $11,122 48.6% 43.3%
WA $14,462 59.0% 32.2% $16,627 68.3% 23.9%

Table 4.4: Per Pupil Revenue by Sector and State, Weighted

State Charter - Revenue Per Pupil Charter - State Charter - Local District - Revenue Per Pupil District - State District - Local
AR $9,274 78.0% 12.0% $11,276 51.0% 38.4%
AZ $8,424 82.8% 7.8% $9,336 39.6% 46.8%
CT $13,893 79.2% 13.8% $21,749 36.6% 59.2%
DC $24,977 0.0% 92.8% $31,382 0.0% 89.0%
DE $12,190 56.1% 37.8% $18,483 58.1% 35.7%
GA $7,623 85.3% 7.7% $11,158 49.9% 40.3%
ID $7,244 85.8% 7.4% $8,579 65.9% 23.4%
IN $8,673 82.5% 6.3% $12,758 62.1% 30.9%
LA $12,136 42.3% 43.6% $12,262 45.0% 42.6%
MA $18,965 8.5% 86.0% $19,749 38.4% 57.4%
ME $11,972 86.4% 9.1% $15,855 37.7% 56.1%
MI $9,597 84.9% 4.2% $12,532 60.8% 33.1%
MN $13,868 88.8% 4.2% $14,750 65.4% 29.6%
MO $14,210 70.1% 18.2% $12,477 31.7% 60.2%
MS $12,300 40.7% 37.7% $9,883 50.7% 35.2%
NC $8,891 63.4% 32.3% $9,588 61.5% 27.3%
NJ $16,603 8.1% 84.1% $21,808 40.2% 55.7%
NM $10,258 85.8% 8.3% $11,682 67.7% 17.4%
NV $7,569 95.6% 1.6% $12,952 43.2% 48.7%
OH $9,967 82.6% 3.8% $14,282 39.8% 53.4%
OK $6,204 81.8% 9.3% $9,199 46.6% 42.3%
PA $14,359 1.2% 91.0% $19,021 38.1% 57.4%
RI $18,683 58.0% 33.4% $18,254 35.5% 58.3%
SC $18,050 89.7% 5.9% $12,408 51.8% 38.8%
TX $10,247 84.5% 5.5% $11,354 38.8% 51.8%
UT $7,485 86.2% 8.0% $8,794 51.7% 40.1%
WA $14,103 59.0% 31.8% $14,095 62.9% 30.7%

Note: Data from Authors’ calculations using the 2016-17 NCES National Public Education Financial Survey. See here for details.

In 22 of 27 states for which we have financial data, charter schools receive fewer dollars per pupil than district schools. In many states, charter schools receive proportionally far fewer dollars from local sources than district schools.


About the Authors

Nate
Dr. Nathan Barrett

Senior Director of Research and Evaluation

Nathan Barrett, Ph.D., is the former Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Before joining the National Alliance, Barrett was an Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow at The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University where he studied the unprecedented school reforms in New Orleans focusing on school choice, teacher policies, school discipline, and equity. In addition to his research experience with charter schools, he also served on a charter school board as the chair of the finance committee and treasurer.

A first-generation and nontraditional college student, Barrett received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Eastern Kentucky University and Georgia State University, respectively, and received his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Kentucky. His work has been published in academic journals such as American Journal of Education, The American Review of Public Administration, Educational Researcher, Economics of Education Review, and Evaluation Review, and has published numerous policy briefs and reports to inform policymakers.