O’Neill IUPUI Assistant Professor Christian Buerger received the 2021 Jesse Burkhead Award for his article, “The Influence of Finance Policies on Charter School Supply Decisions in Five States” from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management.
Buerger received the award at the ABFM’s 2021 annual conference in Washington, D.C. ABFM is the budget and finance sector of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA).
“To receive this award in the name of such a noted researcher as Jesse Burkhead is truly an honor,” said Buerger. “I’m both proud and humbled to carry on the legacy in public affairs at the O’Neill School.”
The honor is named for Jesse Burkhead, who had a distinguished career as a professor of economics and public administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
“Jesse Burkhead’s legacy as an insightful budget scholar and a friend to those in the field is memorialized in this award,” said Mark Robbins, chair of the Burkhead Award committee. “The committee found Christian Buerger’s work to exemplify these qualities. It’s both carefully executed and clearly explained with policy-relevant implications.”
In his award-winning article, Buerger examined charter school data from five states: New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio. He wanted to see whether charter school finance policies influenced where charter school operators choose to set up shop.
Buerger looked at location incentives created by charter school finance provisions and tested their relevance. Buerger provided evidence that states’ finance provisions are an important policy lever impacting charter school location.
His research revealed three key findings state leaders can use when addressing charter schools:
- States can influence where charter schools are located by using finance provisions, specifically base payments tied to students in the school. He found these types of incentives often attract charter school operators to inefficient school districts.
- Providing payments to off-set the higher costs of servicing certain student groups—including those with disabilities, those who are not fluent in English yet, and those who are impacted by poverty—do not create enough of an incentive for charter school operators to locate in areas with high shares of these students.
- To make charter school policies successful, states need to align policy goals with charter school finance provisions.
The article appeared in ABFM’s journal Public Budgeting & Finance.