31 Days, 31 Ways: Lawmakers Help Charter Schools Build, Expand

DAY 20 of our month-long series on the effects of new state laws and budget cuts: Financially stable charter schools will have an easier time seeking lower interest rate loans to expand or build their facilities.

31 Days 31 Ways


Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune is featuring 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

Day 20: Financially stable charter schools will have an easier time seeking lower interest rate loans to expand or build their facilities.

Today, there are nearly 390 charter school campuses in Texas. They are stretched thin, with more than 120,000 current students and nearly 56,000 on waiting lists. Expanding their capacity has never been easy. Under the current system, charter schools in Texas must rely on their own credit to secure funding for construction costs. That's about to change.

During the special session, the Legislature added an amendment to a massive fiscal bill that will expand the bond backing of the Permanent School Fund to charter schools. That $25 billion fund's high bond rating is expected to lower the interest rates on construction costs. The new law only applies to those charter schools that are financially sound and able to achieve an investment grade rating on their own. Traditional schools have said that including the charters will stretch resources even more, but that argument didn't sway lawmakers.

Watch our interview with Jason Bernal, the president of YES Prep in Houston. He explains why this legislation is so important for charter schools in Texas.

Web resources:

Texas Charter School Association press release on Gov. Rick Perry's signing of the bill into law.

Morgan Smith contributed to this article.

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