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A persistent complaint among charter schools, charter operators and their advocates is that their schools often get the short end of the financial stick from states. Charter schools and their allies charge that local and state funding formulas shortchange charter schools, giving them less per-student funding than traditional public schools.
Opponents counter that traditional public school districts provide a greater range of services, such as transportation and meals, than many charter schools do. In addition, research has shown that public schools tend to serve large proportions of special education students, who carry a greater cost per student.
A new report from the University of Arkansas' Department of Education Reform concluded that charter schools receive an average of $5,721 less per student than their traditional counterparts, representing a funding gap of about 29 percent. The report, "Charter School Funding: Inequity in the City," was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation's top backers of charter schools.