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Multi-District Programs

The funding of multi-district programs tends to be more complicated than that of single district programs. Funding policies are based on factors such as if the school is a charter school as well as if it is a full-time online program or supplemental online program.

Charter Schools

In most states, the funding rules for charter schools are different from other public schools and in some cases virtual charter schools are handled differently than other charter schools. In general charter schools receive lower per-pupil funding than other public schools and the same is true for virtual charter schools, sometimes as low as 60% of the average brick-and-mortar school.

The rules related to chartering authority of multi-district virtual charter schools are not the same in all states. In some cases, the chartering authority is a state entity and the charter school may enroll students from across the state. In other cases, the chartering authority is a local school district. In these cases, state rules may…

  • Allow the school to enroll students from across the state;
  • Allow the school to enroll students from a specific geographic area;
  • Allow the school to enroll students from across the state but a certain percentage of students must come from the chartering district. In addition, some states place restrictions on the percentage of students that can come from a single district other than the chartering district.

States also have different rules related to how funding is handled:

  • In some cases, the charter school receives a per pupil amount specific to virtual charter schools.
  • Sometimes, the charter school receives per pupil amount for a state-level charter school that is the same for both virtual and traditional charter schools
  • The amount of funding a charter school receives for a student depends on the student’s resident district.
  • Other times, the student’s resident district keeps a portion of the funding they would have received if the student had stayed at the resident district.
  • However, in some cases, the charter school may receive funding for a student only if he/she was enrolled in a public school (including a charter school) the previous year.

Other Full-Time Multi-District Virtual Schools

Some states do not allow for virtual charter schools, but still allow for full-time multi-district virtual schools. However from a funding perspective, the state regulations tend to be the same as states that do allow multi-district virtual charter schools.

Multi-District Supplemental Program

While less common, some states allow for multi-district supplemental programs. In many cases, the supplemental program is operated by a school district, although in other cases a Regional Educational Service Agency or a BOCES may be allowed to operate such programs. In some cases, these programs are funded entirely or primarily through courses fees. In other cases, the funding for the student is proportionally split between the student’s resident school and the entity operating the supplemental program.

Consortium Programs

Another category of multi-district programs are consortium programs. While these programs are more typically supplemental in nature, it is possible to have a full-time consortium program as well. With consortium programs, there is frequently a fee required for participation which funds some of the basic operations. The consortium may receive additional funding on a per-pupil basis similar to what has been described above for other multi-district programs.