Charter school funding inequities impact Tulsa students, report shows

Posted on 12/23/2020

TULSA, OKLA. – A University of Arkansas study discovered a $5,263 disparity in per-pupil funding between Tulsa area public charter schools and their traditional counterparts. 

The new study, “Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities,” examined all sources of revenue including federal, state, local and nonpublic dollars during the 2017-18 school year in 18 cities across the nation with a high concentration of enrollment in charter schools or potential for charter school growth.

The study’s examination determined Tulsa area charter school students received 41% less funding than their peers attending a traditional brick-and-mortar public school during the 2017-18 school year.

The report included an analysis across the 18 cities and discovered a 33% average funding disparity, topping the previous record high of 27% in 2016.

Data indicates a lack of local education funding was most responsible for the gap, with Tulsa public charter students receiving zero local funding dollars, 38% less in state funding and 17% less in federal funding than traditional public schools.

Inequities were also revealed in per-pupil funding for special education (SPED) students and English Language Learners (ELL), with Tulsa SPED students experiencing a 5% expenditure gap and ELL students a 10% expenditure gap.

“As we continue to advocate for equitable funding for public charter school students, we believe this report raises important awareness of the inequities that exist,” said Dr. Ellen Dollarhide McCoy, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences executive director. “Our goal is to provide all Oklahoma students with the best educational opportunities. Closing this increasingly wide funding gap is a key first step.”

This report is the first in a series of three. The next report, scheduled for release in early 2021, will further examine funding inequities by discussing differences between traditional and charter schools around special education, facilities funding, levels of student disadvantage and more.