Initiative 1240, the charter school measure, will not raise your taxes

October 29, 2012

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.

Comments

Well, let's not forget that

Well, let's not forget that the conversion process outlined in I-1240 is completely undemocratic, not taking take into account the sensibilities of either half the parents, or in the case of a teacher-driven conversion, ANY of the parents, let alone the taxpayers who don't have kids at the school. No due process is defined to oppose the conversion!

On that basis alone, leaving aside the lack of any notification requirements a chartering campaign should have if it's going to arrange to fire the people who fund the school, this initiative ought to fail.

In any case, existing revenues are at risk if a school converts, because its local levy "follows the child" into the hands of people not accountable to elected officials, and then forever binds the funding to that school. That will but the surety of a levy passage in question; I'll certainly think twice about it if faced with a bifurcation of dollars intended for local programs which could end up in some failed principal's golden parachute termination check instead.

"Charter school students

"Charter school students would not take one penny away from traditional schools or from the existing public school system."

This statement is not exactly true. If a school becomes a conversion school, the state and federal dollars follow the child, but the school district will still be responsible for all major maintenance on the building. Those expenses will come out of the district budget, not the charter budget.

I also wonder where the 3 million a year to operate a whole new government agency will come from.

"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."

Conversion charters can also happen if a majority of staff would like to convert the school. There is no requirement for a community vote and no requirement that the school be a failing school! It could be authorized by a group that has no ties to the local district or community and would have full use of not only the state and federal allocations to the school, but local levies voted in by the local community. All without any accountability to the taxpayers.

What what I can see

From what I can, teachers oppose this because they want all resources and decisions about the classroom to be made by them. Sure seems like one of those issues where if the Union doesnt approve then the heck with the people they serve. If the current system has not worked, which I believe is true, then we need to change it. Also whats so wrong about charging tuition. That is how public universities do it. Those who pay get a better education and you will see parents flock to pay for that. The agrument is always that some will be left behind, and that will always be the case. But for better or worse we live in a free market economy and we need to apply that to all our gov run programs and get rid of the middle class beaurcrat elite that continue to grow and prosper everytime society wants to improve or solve a problem.