Many Arizona charter schools at risk of closing due to funding shortages
PHOENIX (AP) — Dozens of Arizona charter schools could be on the brink of financial ruin and the state has little power to intervene, according to a newspaper's analysis of charter-school finances around the state.
Charter holders of 40 schools were labeled as "going concerns" by their auditors in the 2016-17 school year, meaning there was concern that they could close within a year due to their finances, The Arizona Republic reported.
Charter holders of 125 schools — 28 percent of those with available data — failed at least three of four quantifiable measures of financial health set by the state charter board, The Republic's analysis of financial reports of operators representing 454 schools showed.
Financial issues were mentioned as the reason for 30 of the 260 recorded school closures on the charter board's website. That's more than twice the closures reported for academic reasons.
Ashley Berg, the executive director of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools said the intent of the reviews is to provide the public some transparency into charter finances and to "improve the financial health" of the state's charter-school sector.
Berg said charter schools have become more financially stable over the past several years, based on their data. She said that between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of charter holders that did not meet their financial-performance standard — which includes failing no more than one of the metrics — was reduced from 66 percent to 33.7 percent.
Eileen Sigmund, president and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, said despite the findings, the state's charter schools are stable and growing.
The Republic compiled the data for all available charter holders to fully understand the financial health of charter schools overall.