Cash-strapped Field district will cut ties to charter school

In 2010, with a depleted budget and waning local support for new taxes, the cash-strapped Field school district heeded a state suggestion to cut costs and boost revenue — or be taken over.

Following the state’s advice, the board sponsored a charter school, Falcon Academy of Creative Arts. The board found the charter school a home in a vacant elementary school on the other side of the high school’s football field.

The arrangement allowed the largely property-tax-funded rural school district, as a sponsor and landlord, to collect some of the charter school’s state aid and charge rent on an unused asset.

The catch?

The charter school’s per-pupil funding would be taken from the school district, with Field schools essentially recording a cash loss for each kid who chose the academy.

Today, amid record enrollment at Falcon Academy, the state aid flowing away from Field schools has topped $1 million. That dwarfs the $112,000 the district collects in rent and a 3 percent sponsorship, or oversight, fee.

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