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Tennessee Charter School Funding

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September 2016
Authors: Carolynn Polanchek / Tara Bergfeld

Legislative Brief

In February 2016, the chair of the Senate Education Committee requested that the Comptroller’s Office verify whether Tennessee’s charter schools have received the correct funding from their authorizing school districts. 

The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability has concluded, based on research to date, that there is insufficient clarity, transparency, and verification associated with the calculation and receipt of charter school funding in Tennessee. 

State law, State Board of Education rules, and Tennessee Department of Education policies do not currently provide clear and complete definitions of formula components districts use to calculate charter school funding. The situation has resulted in a lack of uniformity in calculating funding for charter schools across the state. 

This brief notes steps that are being undertaken by the Department and the Board to correct the situation. Improved clarity, transparency, and verification regarding the calculation, disbursement, and receipt of charter school funding would provide policymakers, stakeholders, and the public with more confidence that charter schools are receiving the correct amount of funding from their authorizing districts.