Charter schools are one of the hottest innovations in American education. Led by independent operators who promise to deliver results in return for exemption from bureaucratic rules, they are injecting needed choice and competition into public education.
The biggest hurdle many charter organizers face is finding a home for the school and figuring out how to pay for it. Many school districts do not cut charter schools in on available capital funds. And financing a building can be difficult because investors fear the uncertainty of a charter that can be revoked.
But charter-school leaders are finding many ways to solve the housing problem, often in ways that give the charters more flexibility in their teaching resources than regular schools enjoy. This paper examines practices that may offer guidance to those starting new schools. For example, charter schools have found homes in museums, YMCAs, restored schoolhouses, and even in a moviehouse. And some have formed productive partnerships with businesses.
Given a per-pupil allotment for facilities, some schools have found they can lease or fix up space on a pay-as-you-go basis. Others have had to finance at least part of the costs, but there are a variety of options for doing so.
Solutions to charter schools’ physical needs are limited only by the imaginations of charter-school entrepreneurs. And they have shown with their diverse classroom offerings appealing to many needs and tastes that they have ingenuity aplenty.
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