NEW ORLEANS — Whether more than 30 of the roughly 150 charter schools in Louisiana are being properly funded by the state’s education board is now to be decided by the state Supreme Court in a case closely watched by charter school advocates and opponents.
Charter schools are tax-funded public schools operated by independent organizations under charters approved by state or local education officials.
At issue in a Tuesday Supreme Court hearing was whether a group of charter schools that were granted authority to operate by the state’s education board are getting money meant for local school districts. The money is distributed through a formula developed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and approved each year by the Legislature. That complex formula, known as the Minimum Foundation Program, allocates the money based on a variety of factors including the number of students enrolled in a district and the district’s school-related tax revenue.
The Iberville Parish School Board, the Louisiana Association of Educators and others filed a lawsuit saying the funding of the state-approved charters, known as Type 2 charters, with MFP money violates Louisiana’s constitution.
An appeals court agreed in January, but has allowed the funding to continue pending appeals.
Issues in Tuesday’s arguments included whether charter schools qualify as “public schools” under Louisiana law, whether allocating MFP money to the Type 2 charters, in effect, results in less state money going to other schools in a district and whether the MFP is being properly used to fund other non-traditional public schools in Louisiana, such as university-run schools that serve elementary and secondary students.
The justices gave no indication Tuesday when they would rule.