Charter school advocates want exemption from payment delay

Minnesota charter school advocates said the tentative budget agreement between the governor and Republican lawmakers will hit charters harder than traditional schools.

The tentative budget agreement currently taking shape includes holding back $700 million dollars in payments to schools.

Many school districts will have to borrow to offset those and other delay in state payments.

Charter schools receive tax money, but are subject to fewer regulations than traditional public schools. They're also ineligible for low-interest, state-backed loans.

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Brian Sweeney of Charter School Partners said borrowing will be too expensive for many charters to seek loans on the open market, so they're asking lawmakers to exempt charters from the payment delay.

"The holdback for district schools is really tough. The holdback of 40 percent for charter schools is devastating," Sweeney said.

Sweeney says altogether, the state's 148 charter schools will take a $28 million hit from the delay in state aid.

"So they have to go to the market to get traditional loans, which can cost up to eight to 20 percent for the cost of a loan, Sweeney said." That's why it's very inequitable compared to districts."

His group plans a rally Tuesday morning at the Capitol in support of a measure exempting charters schools.