October 6, 2014
This report is a quantitative analysis of the finances of four Chicago charter schools. The report uses 13 indicators of financial condition to provide a snapshot of fiscal health for the five-year period between fiscal years 2007 and 2011. Each section of the quantitative analysis is intended as a stand-alone report on the fiscal health of the selected Chicago charter school or network between FY2007 and FY2011. The analysis indicated good fiscal health for the Lawndale Regional and Educational Network (LEARN) and Namaste Charter School. Results for the North Lawndale and UNO charter schools were mixed, with several negative trends that could impair long-term fiscal viability.
The analysis was planned as the first in a two-part study on the factors needed to ensure the long-term financial viability of Chicago charter schools. The second portion of the study was to have been a qualitative analysis including a review of key plans for board development, strategic plans, fundraising plans, capital improvement plans and long-term plans, as well as recommendations for improvement. A lack of cooperation from the charter schools made it impossible to complete the second portion of the study. There were also significant data limitations in preparing this report because charter schools are not required to report revenue or expense information in a consistent manner. The Civic Federation continues to urge the Illinois General Assembly to require greater financial accountability from both public and charter schools.
The Civic Federation gratefully acknowledges the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust for a generous grant that made the research and writing of this report possible.