Floor set for charter school budget

Posted: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Juneau Community Charter School will receive at least $261,000 from the district next year, the Juneau School Board decided Tuesday.

The figure matches this school year's contribution for the same number of students, 56, as this year.

The board, in approving the charter school's annual renewal of its contract with the school district, agreed to a funding formula that gives the school the minimum required by state law, plus $12,000.

State law requires districts to give charter schools at least the funds their students generate in what is called "basic need." It refers to the state funding and the minimum of funding that cities must give schools.

The charter school's governing Academic Policy Committee originally had asked the School Board to change the way it funds the school so it will have more revenue.

On Monday, the committee withdrew much of its request in a letter to board members. Parent Catherine Redrawn said the parties need more information before coming to a "reasonable conclusion about the charter school's share of (district) costs and revenue."

But the committee submitted a budget request for more funds to account for jumps in mandated contributions to employee retirement funds and any increased costs from new employee contracts now being negotiated.

The state's minimum funding includes a recent increase in state funding for education that was intended to help cover the higher retirement fund payments, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said.

School Board member Bob Van Slyke said the charter school's state funding is increased for services, such as special ed, that it doesn't provide out of its own budget. And he said the district doesn't charge the school for all of the services it provides.

Charter schools are public schools that hold agreements with school districts on how they will be funded and operated. The schools typically are governed by parents and create their own curriculum.

The school plans to enroll more students next school year, which would increase its funding.

Juneau's charter school, which in recent years has served 55 to 60 students in kindergarten to grade six, is completing its seventh year. It is housed in the Arcticorp building downtown.

The school also will receive a state grant of $18,783, Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, has said.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.

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