Arizona loves its charters. It is generally known as “the Wild West of charters,” a state where charters may engage in nepotism and conflicts of interest without sanction because they are not covered by those laws (remember, they are deregulated from such mundane regulations as self-dealing).

But what have we here? The Arizona legislature actually cut millions of dollars from small schools, a bonus many charters were accustomed to receiving. The charters with fewer than 600 students could lose a total of $15 million by some estimate. Some charters kept their enrollment below 600 to get the bonus. The Arizona State Attorney General has been asked to issue a ruling on the legislation and its impact on charters.

The Arizona Charter Schools Association believes the department did not calculate the formula as the Legislature intended.
“The association is exploring every option to lessen these devastating cuts. The total impact is more than double what legislators had been told when they voted for the state budget,” association CEO and President Eileen Sigmund said in a statement.
“The impacts will be real and immediate, as some of our smallest schools stand to lose nearly $1,000 per pupil on July 1. We are engaged with the governor’s office, lawmakers and ADE to resolve this crisis.”
The change in the formula also would affect the amount that the charters receive under the Proposition 301 program, which provides money for teachers through a sales tax. Douglas’ letter asks Brnovich to rule on that as well.
According to a spreadsheet used by the Department of Education to calculate the cuts, 207 schools will face cuts affecting about 85,000 students. About 15 percent of Arizona’s public-school students attend charters.
Many charters cap their enrollment to take advantage of the extra funding for small schools — a model that is now threatened.
Peter Bezanson, CEO of the Basis Schools charters, said that the total cut to his network could be almost $4 million.
“I can say without qualification that Basis will not grow any more in Arizona with this new funding reality,” he said. “We won’t add any more schools.
“We had wanted to give fairly significant increases in teacher salaries this year and those increases are not possible,” he said. Basis has 15 schools in Arizona.

In a state where charters have gotten more or less whatever they wanted, and public schools are underfunded, this comes as a shocker.