Initiative 1240, the charter school measure, will not raise your taxes
The official Voters Guide to Initiative 1240, the charter school initiative, is worrying some voters that passing this measure will lead to a tax increase. This is not an unreasonable fear, but the fact is that Initiative 1240 would not require a tax increase.
Charter schools are public schools and they serve public school students. The money taxpayers currently provide for each student would follow the students who choose to attend a charter school. In other words, there would be no greater cost to taxpayers to give students the option of attending a charter school.
If Initiative 1240 passes, the money provided by taxpayers to students attending Washington's 2,345 traditional schools will be unaffected---traditional schools will receive the same amount of money to educate their students they received before the initiative.
Initiative 1240 allows only 40 charter schools to open in a five year period. Most of the new charter schools will be conversion charters, meaning that if a community wishes, they can convert their traditional school to a charter school. The new conversion charter school would operate in the same building serving the same students. However, it would be run by new and better management. The money that funded the old school would be the same money that funds the new charter school.
Charter school students would not take one penny away from traditional schools or from the existing public school system.
It is possible that school districts will decide to build new charter schools. These will serve public school students and not require new tax revenue. The Seattle School District is planning to build two new schools in the near future, but no one argues these new schools are “draining” money from other schools.
The fiscal note to the charter school bill shows that the administrative costs of Initiative 1240 would be only about $3 million. This is a tiny fraction of the $10 billion public schools receive every year from state, local and federal sources. This administrative cost is minor and could easily be covered by existing revenues.
The bottom line? If passed, Initiative 1240 will not raise taxes on Washington’s citizens.