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Charters Will Cost State Estimated $3.1 Million

Ann Dornfeld

The state Office of Financial Management estimates that approval of the charter schools initiative would cost the state at least $3.1 million over the first five years.


Initiative 1240 would legalize up to 40 charter schools in Washington over five years. It would also create a new state agency to oversee charters.

The state's Fiscal Impact Statement for I–1240 estimates it would cost a million dollars to create and run that new agency for five years.

State oversight of the charter authorization process would cost an estimated $800,000, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction would need to spend a predicted $760,000 on new positions to allocate funding to charter schools.

Shannon Campion is a spokeswoman for the Yes on 1240 campaign. She says those costs are in line with what the campaign predicted.

Shannon Campion: "Look, I think, you know, these charter schools, which are public schools, are absolutely worth the modest cost. They are an option that work well, as research shows, they work well and often better than traditional public schools in helping struggling students succeed."

Melissa Westbrook: "Well for people who don't like bureaucracy, this is another case of creating more bureaucracy at the state level for funding that comes out of the classroom."

That's Melissa Westbrook. She's chair of the No on 1240 campaign. Westbrook says the measure would also create a lot of "soft costs" for districts — like the potential loss of levy dollars.

Melissa Westbrook: "Charters will be eligible for any and all levy moneys, whether they're operational or capital, that are voted in."

The Office of Financial Management says I–1240 could also cost districts money by shrinking their levy bases and creating competition for state school construction funds.

Coincidentally, the $3.1 million the state expects to spend if charters become legal is the same amount of money I–1240's backers have spent so far to get voter approval.

I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW