Since the enactment of Minnesota's charter school law in 1991, facilities access, funding and ownership has been an ongoing source of debate, concern and frustration both for public policymakers and for charter school boards and administrators.
On the one hand, Minnesota's charter law does not allow charter schools to own facilities if public funds are used to purchase it; and on the other hand, charter schools in some communities have been prohibited from leasing space in vacant, publicly paid-for buildings owned by local school districts.
In order to provide safe, healthy and utilitarian spaces conducive to the learning program of the school, charters have looked outside the box for space. While a number of charters are located in former parochial school buildings, there are charters located in community and recreation centers, shopping malls, town halls, converted industrial and office buildings.
The limit on direct ownership of facilities has over the years led to a number of charter schools to establish an Affiliated Building Company (ABC's) to construct or purchase and renovate facilities for the school. The school then leases from its Affiliated Building Company.
To assist charter schools with the costs of leasing space, the State does provide per-pupil Lease Aid to the schools.