Selected readings on US charter schools
Many of Arizona’s successful charter schools have long waiting lists and could benefit from using traditional public school buildings that are now vacant, said Jonathan Butcher, education director for the Goldwater Institute. But there is no established process for charter schools to use these empty buildings, he said.
In some parts of the state, school district officials are openly hostile to the idea, he said, pointing to Tucson, where he has heard one Tucson school official saying, “It is my goal to put charter schools out of business.”
Butcher said closed public schools should be sold or leased to the highest bidder within 18 months of closure, which would help charter schools to open and grow while also curbing financial losses that school districts carry when they hold on to vacant buildings.
In Indiana, for example, charter schools can lease vacant school buildings from districts for $1 each year.
“With over 100 public school buildings across Arizona sitting empty, this should be a no-brainer,” Butcher said.
Eileen Sigmund, president and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, said the taxpayers should be the beneficiaries of these empty facilities.
“We believe all students throughout the state should receive their fair equitable amount of resources,” she said. “We shouldn’t have one student getting less than another student.”
Nearly 10 percent of Arizona’s high school seniors will graduate from charter schools this spring.
There are about 145,000 students enrolled in 535 charter schools statewide, Sigmund said, representing an 8 percent annual enrollment growth each year.
Source: Phoenix Business Journal – Angela Gonzales