by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
That’s the question Marguerite Roza of Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab sought to answer in a recent webinar on the topic. Roza does a real-time financial analysis of public dollars flowing into state private school choice options like ESAs, vouchers or tax credits. What did she find?
So what does all this mean for school choice and public schools in North Carolina? Roza found that in 2023-24 North Carolina’s ESA program ($48,943,166) and voucher program ($176,540,00) cost $225,483,166 to operate (North Carolina does not offer a school choice tax credit program). The K-12 education budget for 2023-24 is $11,564,559, 926. As such private school choice programs account for approximately only 1.9 percent of the total K-12 budget.
As enrollment in school choice programs grow, the discussion over the impacts of school choice on public school budgets will likely continue. Roza’s financial analysis is certainly not the last word on the impact of school choice on public school budgets. More complex analyses are needed. Nevertheless, her findings provide a good starting point for objectively assessing the impact of school choice on public schools in North Carolina and elsewhere.