Publicly funded, privately run charter schools consume more than $900 million in state and local tax dollars. A comprehensive evaluation has been difficult. Today’s story begins a three-day series. It is a part of a multiyear project to create a database and authoritative stories so parents can make informed choices and the public can understand this form of government privatization.

Coming ...

Monday: Close ties between for-profit management companies and the boards raise questions about tax-free, nonprofit status.

Tuesday: Public school districts use local funds to transport charter-school kids.