Every keiki matters, and all public school students deserve equitable and sufficient funding. We must give the same consideration to our smaller, rural, and neighbor island schools as we do to our schools on O’ahu. Increasing charter and rural school funding will help these schools remain on firm financial footing and will show that the government hasn’t forgotten about these communities. The facts behind this disparity are alarming:
- Public schools receive $12,855 per-pupil.
Charter schools receive $7,323 per-pupil, most of which goes to operational expenses (salaries, curricula, school supplies, utilities, collective bargaining costs).
- This leaves charters to rely on private donations to fund facilities, maintenance, and rent.
- Poorly funded charter schools are sometimes forced to hold classes in unstable temporary structures, which is a detriment to both learning and safety.
- The unfair funding disparity greatly affects our Native Hawaiian keiki, as many of our charter schools are Hawaiian charter schools. We are failing our keiki who go to charter or rural schools.
As an educator, I believe giving each student an equal opportunity to succeed is essential. We must increase funding under the Per-Pupil Funding Allocation to support the needs of all public schools, including charter schools. Reevaluating the Weighted Student Formula will further account for the disparity.