County School Board Members Speak Out on "Unfair Funding Mechanism" for Charter Schools

Jun 04, 2024 at 04:45 pm by WGNS

MURFREESBORO – Several Rutherford County School Board members are speaking out against the funding allocation formula for state approved charter schools.

Board member Frances Rosales explains while public schools are required to plan their budget based on the previous year’s enrollment, charter schools budget based on projections and estimates of the upcoming year.


Board member Coy Young on WGNS said with charter schools getting money based on their projections, the county is footing the bill for a whole year before getting paid back by the state: 

Based on this year's projections, the county is being forced to pay $11 million to these charter schools upfront. Rosales said “This difference is costing Rutherford County millions of dollars, making the model unsustainable. This is money that could otherwise go towards buying land and building new schools.”

This compounds Rutherford County's overcrowding issues and the dollars necessary to deal it. The county system is adding, on average, about 12-hundred new students per year.

Young said the county school system has added over 14,000 students in his 12 years on the school board. Rutherford County alone has over 170 portables, some of which have been in place for more than 20 years. Compare that to 30 or 40 per system in other counties. Young said the portables are only meant to be a temporary solution: 

And now that the county is sending millions to state approved charter schools - upfront - that's taking millions away each year in the local budget. Yes, there is a reimbursement from the state, but it's the next year. Then the process starts all over again.

Additionally, some of the charter school money is going to schools that were voted down by the local school board but approved anyway on the state level, despite the local board's objection.

Young and Rosales agree this money could be put to better use for the system in securing land for needed additional schools.


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