Finding a facility can be the biggest stumbling block to launching a charter school in Georgia. Unlike traditional district public schools, which are provided with buildings rent free, most Georgia charter schools have to lease their own facilities, furnish and maintain them out of general operating funds. Schools may try to secure bond financing in order to build a new structure or renovate an existing one. Local E-SPLOST referenda have not been a significant source of funding for charter school facilities.
While a law passed in Georgia in 2013 (HB555) now requires “unused” public school buildings to be made available rent free to locally approved charters, the actual supply is small and many of these buildings need a great deal of work to meet code requirements.
Advocating for fair facilities funding on behalf of our schools remains a top priority for GCSA. We participated in a 2011 study of Georgia’s independent, start-up charter schools in partnership with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools entitled, Shortchanged Charters: How Funding Disparities Hurt Georgia’s Charter Schools. The study documents how in many cases, students and educators in Georgia are forced to learn and work in inadequate facilities, due to their school districts’ failure to follow state law.
DOE Charter School Facility Grants
(for locally approved and state charter commission schools)
Subject to annual appropriation, Charter School Facility Grants are competitive grants offered to assist existing charter schools in renovating facilities, support purchase or lease payments, or to support transportation costs. Charter schools may request up to $200,000 depending on the proposed use of the funding as outlined in its application. All Charter School Facility Grant funds must be expended by a deadline set by the Georgia Department of Education to ensure all funding is utilized prior to June 30 (the end of the state fiscal year).
For more information, visit the Georgia Department of Education’s website.
The Department of Administrative Services Surplus Property Division is responsible for the disposal of state and federal surplus property that may be of use to state charters. The state of Georgia conducts all sales of surplus property through public internet sales using the websites below.
GCSA also offers resources and guidance on the facilities challenge, and can also refer you to experts in the field who can provide specific facilities advice to best meet your school’s facilities needs and goals. For more information, email Andrew Lewis, Executive Vice President.