AISD Feeling the Impact of Charter School Enrollment Growth

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AISD Feeling the Impact of Charter School Enrollment Growth

It's no secret how quickly charter schools have grown over the years, but specifically within just the past seven years, charter enrollment has more than doubled.  Within that same time, the Austin Independent School District has struggled to stop the bleeding as it has dealt with a lack of enrollment at various campuses.  Nicole Conley-Johnson, AISD's Chief of Finance and Business Operations, says charters are applying some intense pressure on them.

"They get state-guaranteed bonding authority without having to ask taxpayers, so, as we look at their perspective in their bond packages, it's looking like charter school growth could grow by about 8800 students," she says.

That's by 2026.  

Already within that seven year growth period for charters that AISD has referenced, Conley-Johnson says the district has lost more than $562-million in revenue, and by the time AISD loses the additional 8800 students projected to enroll in a charter school, the financial impact will top $159-million annually.  

And, if some of the charters play their cards right with their specific bond offerings, Conley-Johnson says it could change the landscape of public education.

"They could be the largest school district in the State of Texas, right?  Seventh in the nation," she says.

Charters have already accounted for the loss of about 15,000 students in AISD, and currently the revenue losss due to AISD's enrollment declines directly tied to charters is more than $100-million.  

Despite all of that, however, AISD says its budget should be ok heading into next year.

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