Financial Accountability
10:06 am
Thu May 8, 2014

In Second Report From SBOE Vice Chair, Charter Financial Disparities Go Beyond Pay

Ratliff is hoping his series of reports about charter school financial accountability will make its way to the Legislature in the 2015 session.
Credit Ryan Poppe / TPR News

Using data from the Texas Education Agency’s website, State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff showed how the overall spending at a majority of charter schools is over the recommended amount set by the state.   

Ratliff said the general conversation about charter schools focuses on school choice, but, he said, the financial management and accountability isn’t something that’s often addressed. Following his study on superintendent pay at charter schools, it was suggested that he examine overall spending.

“And it appears that superintendent pay is only the tip of the iceberg on the disparity and the financial management of these schools when you look at the fact that 56 percent of charter schools spend over the recommended benchmark amount that TEA developed at the same time that 98 percent of public schools spend under that amount,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff used the TEA’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) to come up with the numbers. It is a series of financial standards that schools have to meet, which includes a spending benchmark set by Education Commissioner Michael Williams that schools are not to exceed.  

Charter schools and public schools each have their own FIRST rating system, but both have a spending benchmark.

Ratliff said charter schools should have to be just as accountable as a public school district because they benefit directly from state funding.

"I think we’ve got some more questions and some answers that need to be forthcoming and I think it’s time the legislature and taxpayers to follow the money and see where it’s going in these charter schools,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff said he’s using his position on the SBOE to raise the issue and he hopes this series of reports gets the attention of local taxpayers or state lawmakers ahead of the 2015 legislative session. 

Read Ratliff's entire release here:

Texas Charter Financial Accountability Part 2 by Texas Public Radio