As the school year drew closer, the school department of Providence, Rhode Island announced its intention to charge local charter schools around $800 per season for each of their students who participate in an in-district athletics program. District spokeswoman Christina O’Reilly told Dan McGowan of WPRI that the fees would help cover “transportation, coaches’ salaries, referees, equipment, [and] league fees” for teams, on which 50 to 60 Providence charter students play.
The city backed away from the plan within a few days, but the brief episode once again raised the controversial issue of charter school funding.
Under Rhode Island law, charter schools receive the total per-student funding that would be allocated for their students in their home districts. The district divides its local property tax collection for schools, minus capital expenses and debt service, by the number of students and sends the proportionate amount to the charters.
The state calculates its aid on a per-student basis and sends the money to the charter instead of the district. Then the state gives the district an additional five percent of its per-student total to cover the “indirect costs” of each charter student.
By the reckoning of The Center for Education Reform, this makes Rhode Island’s funding “equity” the most generous in New England, and among the most generous in the country.