COLUMBIA— A new report says many public charter schools in South Carolina lack adequate facilities.
The report by the Charter School Facilities Initiative recommends that state lawmakers take action to help provide additional space, The State newspaper reported.
South Carolina has 49 public charter schools that operate from buildings, as opposed to online classes.
The report says some of the schools lack playgrounds or gyms, while others lack art rooms or science labs. Some of the schools do not have kitchens to prepare meals, meaning they do not qualify for federal food and reimbursement programs.
Traditional public schools can sell bonds to borrow money for facilities, something public charter schools cannot do.
Public charters schools must pay rent, mortgages or other facility costs with money that traditional public schools spend in the classroom, said Wayne Brazell, superintendent of South Carolina’s statewide Public Charter School District.
“Not only are we spending 30 percent of all operational funds on facilities, which traditional schools don’t have to spend, but also we don’t have capital for technology projects” such as buying computers for the classroom or upgrading security, Brazell said.
More than a third of charter schools rent from a private landlord, 11 percent rent from a government agency other than a school district, 11 percent rent from a school district, and 16 percent own their buildings but are paying down debt on them.
State education superintendent Mick Zais has said local communities should work together to solve charter schools’ facility needs.
The report recommends that the General Assembly give charter schools a per-pupil allocation for facilities and equal access to tax-exempt borrowing.