Public charter schools get more per-pupil state money than regular schools. Why?


Last week I mentioned that Georgia had 159 county public school systems. There are also twenty city systems and over 40 charter schools. We have two nearby, Liberty Charter in Brooks and Coweta Charter School.

While the county and city-based systems are sustained by a combination of local property taxes, state educational funding, and federal money, charter schools depend mostly on state funds. For example, while Fayette students receive approximately $5,800 per pupil and Coweta students $5,500 in state funds, the 422 students at Liberty Tech Charter in Brooks receive over $13,000 and the 793 students at Coweta Charter receive approximately $10,500 or almost double what a student in Coweta County receives.

Just last week, in these pages, another group seeking to start another charter school has surfaced. When I first started studying public school costs in 2008, Georgia spent about five million dollars on charter schools. In the last fiscal year, Georgia spent almost $462 million on approximately 40 charter schools serving over 41,000 students.

Charter schools are not limited to an enrollment district and are open to all of Georgia’s children at no cost to the parents and I have heard from people who have had positive experiences for their children.

However, I wonder if it is right that the state pays for the majority share of the cost of these charter schools that are space limited and different than the public schools also available at no cost. Why do these students receive double the money from Georgia than students in their home district receive?

To be clear, charter schools are not private schools, although the limited space and different scope affords features of private schools. It is reasonable to wonder whether it is fair that these families pay nothing for this enhanced service.

Supporters will say that charters are different because parents are required to volunteer. However, many of our neighbors across Fayette and Coweta volunteer in our public schools every day.

This haphazard uncoordinated, and unequal funding method is destined for certain failure. Some celebrate that the Governor has spoken of adding more money. However, with personnel costs rising at a rapid rate and some looking to add more charter schools, is there more money, or is the “funding pie” being whittled into smaller slices trying to appease all agendas without a strategic plan with sustainable solutions?

To be clear, I believe that charter schools are a good thing and I believe we need as many options as possible to educate Georgia’s children. However, the $14,416 received for each of the 422 students at Liberty Tech is more than enough to pay full tuition for each of them to attend more than one of our area private schools with money left over.

Denoted as” State Specialty Schools” maybe payment should be required for charter schools. Even a payment of $2,000 per pupil (or less than $200 a month) would raise $82 million across the approximately 41,000 charter students across Georgia.

While the county and city systems continue to be no cost, other options should have a cost with Georgia covering its obligation of “adequate education” with the family responsible for at least a part of the additional cost.

[Neil Sullivan is a finance/accounting executive and CPA. He has lived in Peachtree City over 20 years with his wife Jennifer, a Fayette County History teacher and son Jackson, a sophomore at Erskine College. He has been active in public school related issues in Fayette County, leading three E-SPLOST initiatives as chairman of Fayette Citizens for Children. He has appeared previously on these pages in letters to the editor.]


  1. Mr. Sullivan, thank you for the education. On it’s face, considered alone as a separate rule or act, I will agree with you there is an inequality of State funding between charter schools and generic public schools. To me, that’s parochialism and not conducive to equal rights and opportunities for all. I will also say I gave myself a headache researching charter school funding.

    If the public determines a neeed, or a desire, to provide exceptional opportunities for exceptional potential to better our city, county, state, country, world, and/or humanity, I will support the public “magnet” school concept over charter school parochialism. I am impressed with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, as “a magnet school that draws students from Fairfax County and other jurisdictions in northern Virginia. Widely recognized as one of the best public high schools in the Nation,1 the school has exceptional resources, including 13 on-campus research laboratories and a student-produced scientific research journal, and it features a rigorous curriculum. All students must study computer science and complete a science or technology research project, and the school offers 26 advanced placement and 20 “post-AP” courses” (see ALITO, J., dissenting – SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, COALITION FOR TJ v. FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, No. 23–170. Decided February 20, 2024). I am impressed to the point of Peachtree City supporting such a school. My useage of exceptional, does not necessarily connotate “gifted,” it also includes those who may need an IEP for whatever reasons.