PHOENIX - Summer might be around the corner, but parents are already thinking about where they'll send their children when the next school year starts. And one of the options is a charter school.
Newly-released data shows that some in the Valley are facing some serious financial trouble ahead of next year.
There are dozens of Arizona's charter schools that are red flagged by an independent audit on the Arizona State Board for Charter School's website. That means there is concern about their financial status.
Charters that struggle financially may ask parents to pitch in more, or may not have as competitive of teacher salaries. And of course, the most devastating consequence parents should be aware of, a possible closure right in the middle of the school year.
During the 2016-2017 school year, Phoenix's StarShine Academy closed its doors for money woes. Goodyear's Discovery Creemos Academy shut down too, the owner accused of pocketing taxpayer dollars for personal use.
Jim Hall with Arizonans for Charter School Accountability says parents need to pay attention to their school's finances.
"Parents need to look up their schools and see how healthy they were last year," Hall said.
All of the information is online and can be found here. But, it can be very difficult to dig through the website and make sense of it all.
"They should look at that information and see if their schools is in difficulty and then approach the administration at the school to see why exactly that's happening," Hall said.
So how many charter schools in Arizona are in trouble?
When we checked the website, about 40 of the state's nearly 550 charter schools are marked as "going concern." Which means there's doubt in the school's financial stability. Dozens more failed to meet three of the four financial measures.
"I think parents have to look at it and make sure if they are failing three of the four, they really look closely at whether they want to send their kids to that school next year," Hall said.
And Hall adds that parents have to take the financial information with a grain of salt.
"Things vary from year to year and a school could have a bad year one year but be OK now," Hall said.
There's an added layer of security moving forward: the passing of HB 2663. This will give the charter board the power to step in and close struggling charter schools.
"The new legislation, I think, will help deal with some of those schools before they get too far along and have to close during the school year," Hall said.
The Arizona State Charter Board tells 12 News the number of going concern contracts with schools is 26.
When we asked why that number was different than the approximately 40 schools we found, they said it's because they look at contract level for the audit to determine financial performance.
In other words, multiple schools could be lumped into one contract.