Charter schools frequently confront inadequate facility funding, few affordable and suitable buildings, inadequate facility expertise among charter founders, and gradual expansion of enrollment and grade levels that requires more or new space. Charter school facility incubators provide affordable, short-term space for new and growing charter schools.
In a new report, Charter School Facility Incubators: A Case Study of Washington, D.C.’s Innovative Approach to Charter School Facilities, Public Impact takes an in-depth look at the design and operations of Building Pathways, a Washington, D.C.-based charter school facility incubator.
Charter school facility incubators shoulder the responsibility of finding and preparing the space. Incubators should provide a full complement of building management and planning services and set rent payments that are tied to a school’s enrollment and ability to pay during its first years so that school leaders and board members can focus on academic programs, school operations and financial health.
“Facilities incubators can let school leaders keep their focus where it counts—on teachers, students and families,” said co-author Troy Smith.
Only four states have a facility incubator; Building Pathways provides the most well-developed example after providing short- and long-term space to more than 26 charter schools since its inception in 2006. This case study shows its keys to success to help other incubators follow its lead.
The Building Pathways charter school incubator initiative has been a vital component of the growth and success of the charter sector in Washington, D.C. Organizations wishing to create an incubator model in other cities should evaluate whether they can meet the following success factors:
- High-quality authorizer.
- Growing, high-quality charter sector.
- Geographic Proximity of Charter Schools.
- Stable and flexible funding.
- Facility Expertise and Local Knowledge.