In our first posting on Access to District Buildings, we explored the cost implications of sharing district buildings. In this entry, we review the different statutory schemes in place across the nation and the impact they are having on access to buildings.

This second blog presents initial findings showing a clear relationship between states that address district facility access in legislation and higher levels of charter schools in district facilities.

Landscape of Laws Regarding District Space

Of the 46 jurisdictions with charter school laws, 33 statutes mention charter school access to district space, ranging from comprehensive regulation of charter and district space issues to vague statements that charters may lease district space. Figure 1 shows which states include any of the variety of provisions addressing charter access.  


Figure 1. States with Statutes That Address Charter School Access to Available District Space

Data from the States

To assess the impact of the various statutes, the project team developed simple state specific “crowdsourcing surveys” to gather feedback from the field. After documenting and categorizing elements of the various state statutes, each state survey was customized to match the various statutory provisions within each state law. The surveys were distributed to and through individuals and organizations in each state including charter support organizations, authorizers, and charter attorneys.


While the project team continues to gather and compile survey results, we wanted to highlight one of the more interesting observations from an initial review of the data. 


Initial results show the majority of states have less than 10% of charter schools in district facilities. Across all states, 66% of respondents said less than 10% of charters are in district facilities.


Figure 2. Responses to “What is your current statewide estimate of the percentage of charter schools in district facilities?”

Access is higher in states with statutes addressing access to district facilities. When comparing the results between states with and without statutes in Figure 2, it appears that having some regulations in place improves the rates of charter schools accessing district facilities. Among states with an access-related statute, 43% said that 10% or more charter schools are in district facilities compared to only 20 % of those states without an access-related statute.


These results confirm data collected between 2010-11 and 2017-18 through the Charter School Facilities Initiative (CSFI), which surveyed charter schools in 20 states regarding their facility situations and challenges, then released public reports of the results. Three states have significant number of charter schools accessing district facilities (LA, CA, and NY). These have been well documented in the past. In addition to these three states, there are others that are less well-known.


For states without a statute, one state remains an outlier. Oklahoma has had remarkable success in accessing available district space. Further analysis of Oklahoma is needed to understand the sharing dynamic in that state.


Figure 3. Distribution of charter schools in district facilities by presence of statute

This topic and others will be presented in an upcoming report exploring the landscape of charter schools in district facilities and how state and local policies impact access. As the research is ongoing, please be sure to contribute your knowledge through the crowdsourcing effort. You may sign up to participate here