Steve Hinnefeld writes on his blog School Matters that Republican legislators in Indiana want property taxes to pay for charter schools. This will mean budget cuts for public schools or higher property taxes.

Taxpayers in Indiana should be irate that their property taxes will bolster the bank accounts of for-profit charter chains like National Heritage Academies and Accel.

I remember when the idea of charter schools was first discussed in the 1980s. The promise of charter advocates (and I was one at the time) was that they would be more accountable than public schools; that they would cost less than public schools; and they would have higher test scores than public schools. In the more than three decades since the first charter schools opened, the public has learned that none of those promises came true.

Charter schools on average do not produce higher test scores than public schools, unless they choose their students with care. Many charter schools—in states like Ohio—perform far worse than public schools. They are less accountable than public schools because they have private boards that answer to no one. Their finances are usually opaque since they are not subject to the same budgetary oversight as public schools. And now we know that they do not cost less than public schools; they want the same funding as public schools, and many are subsidized by outside philanthropists. And, unlike public schools, charter schools close with high frequency and little warning. They destabilize communities. And that is why I no longer support charter schools.

Steve Hinnefeld writes:

Indiana legislators are considering a significant change in Indiana school finance that would, for the first, time, require public school districts to share local property tax revenue with charter schools.

Senate Bill 398 is set for a hearing Tuesday in the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee. A similar bill in the House hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing, but probably will be. House Bill 1607 goes further than SB 398 by also requiring school districts to share referendum funding with charter schools.

SB 398, authored by Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger, would require school districts to share revenue from their property tax-supported operations funds with charter schools. The money would be allocated according to the number of students who live in the school district and attend charter schools.

The measures follow a public advocacy campaign that may have pushed the issue of charter school funding onto lawmakers’ agendas. The campaign, which included TV and social media ads, focused on differences in funding between Indianapolis Public Schools and charter schools.

The bill would also make districts share property taxes with nearby public school districts to which their students transfer.

Under Indiana’s current school finance system, the state provides comparable per-pupil funding to district and charter schools. But districts can also levy local property taxes to pay off debt and for their operations funds, which pay for facility construction and maintenance and for transportation. The state gives charter schools an extra $1,250 per pupil to compensate for their lack of property taxes.

A Legislative Services Agency analysis says SB 398 would shift nearly $70 million a year from school districts to charter schools after a three-year phase-in. The biggest impact would be in Indianapolis and Gary, where more students attend charters or transfer than attend district schools.

Advocates for charter schools argue their students deserve the same funding as students who attend district schools. However, charter schools aren’t subject to the same requirements as district schools and aren’t overseen by elected school boards. It’s rare in Indiana for voters to have no local election mechanism to influence how their property taxes are spent.

The campaign for more charter school funding highlighted the difference in per-pupil funding between IPS schools and Indy charter schools that aren’t affiliated with the district. The ads were “endorsed” by the Indiana Student Funding Alliance, whose website has no contact information or details about who or what it is.

According to Facebook’s ad library, the ads on the platform were paid for by the Institute for Quality Education, an Indianapolis nonprofit that advocates for charter schools and private school vouchers. The group’s political action committee, Hoosiers for Quality Education, is a major donor to Republican politicians. In 2022, it gave $22,500 to Behning’s campaign and $5,500 to Rogers’ campaign.

Open the link and finish reading.