COLUMBUS – December 16, 2014 – Local taxpayers are being forced to subsidize charter schools, many of them with poor academic records, according to a new study by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project. Education Policy experts and school superintendents came together today to explain how an underfunded state mandate can force school districts to use local tax revenues to subsidize the cost of sending students to charter schools.
“In many cases, far more money follows the student to the charter school than the state would have sent to the local school district for the same student,” said Innovation Ohio Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer. “When that happens, local tax revenue, in many cases, ends up subsidizing these larger state payments to charter schools.”
Instead of money raised through school levies going to the local public schools, some of it is being used to subsidize the cost of paying for students to attend charter schools – many of which are performing poorly. The report identifies the districts that are forced to pay the most, in a further erosion of local control.
“This study is a good example of why we launched the Know Your Charter website and the importance of having a greater understanding of how Ohio charter schools are operating and being funding,” said Ohio Education Association President Becky Higgins. “In this case, we are shedding light on part of the state mandate for funding charter schools that has received too little attention – namely, the unfair burden it places on local communities. It’s time to re-examine the state law, particularly given the sorry performance of so many charter schools in Ohio.”
The report shows that the average school district last year received $4,149 per pupil, which is $1,596 less than the $5,745 base amount paid to charter schools. This means that local school districts have to make up that $1,596 state funding shortfall by using local revenue or reduce educational opportunities for children.
“When the taxpayers vote for a local levy they expect the dollars generated to stay with their local traditional public school,” said Greg Ring, Superintendent of the Lorain County Educational Service Center. “Six of the county’s 14 districts actually pay more in local dollars to charters than is deducted from the district’s state foundation on a per pupil funding basis. In one of those districts, three times more local dollars leave the district when compared to its state deductions to charters.”
The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project is a joint venture of the Ohio Education Association and Innovation Ohio. The Ohio Education Association represents more than 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities. Innovation Ohio is a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus. For more information, please visit: www.KnowYourCharter.com.
CONTACT: Keary McCarthy, 614-425-9163