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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Charter schools still get less money from state

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Hawai'i charter schools will continue to receive $2,997 per pupil from the state this year, which is less than the $6,400 that regular public schools typically receive, according to a report released yesterday by the auditor.

Charter schools do not receive money for special education or some other types of education money. Also, state law requires that per-pupil spending at charter schools not exceed the previous year's spending at other schools.

The Department of Education says some of the spending for public schools comes in the form of services and technical support, so the figure is closer to about $3,286 per student.

Legislators asked state auditor Marion Higa to determine the per-pupil amount to be given to the charter schools each year.

But Higa's report noted that this responsibility should be given to the Department of Education, because her office would have a conflict of interest if it allocated the money and later was asked to do an audit of a school.

Also, Higa said she was concerned about the deficit spending of some charter school campuses, and her office's ability to talk with DOE officials and each charter school's local board to come up with a timely estimate of the per-pupil allocation.

Charter schools use public dollars, but operate largely independent of local school bureaucracies, which advocates say makes them more efficient, responsive to parents and creative in their curriculum.

The charter school movement was launched in Hawai'i in 1999 with a law allowing 25 such schools statewide.