By Sandy Theis, Executive Director of ProgressOhio
At the Woodridge Local Schools in Summit County, each student gets $680 from the state to help pay for their education. But, when one of those kids leaves Woodridge to attend a charter school, the district loses about $6,853.
“This is egregious and this is unfair,’’ Superintendent Walter Davis told reporters at a Columbus news conference on Aug. 27. “The Ohio General Assembly needs to fix this.’’
Education reform advocates who joined Davis urged state lawmakers to get back to work and pass House Bill 2, a much-needed charter accountability bill that has been stalled in the Ohio House. They also called for a new funding formula that would stop even the worst performing charters from siphoning money away from neighborhood schools.
“Our elected leaders need to stop penalizing local school districts by taking locally generated dollars away from students who choose to remain in traditional public schools,’’ said Scott DiMauro, Vice President of the Ohio Education Association.
Traditional schools are funded with a combination of state money and money that is raised locally, usually through property taxes. Because charters have been taking more money from local schools, homeowners and businesses have been asked to keep raising their property taxes to cover costs.
Some speakers said they would support direct funding for charter schools, but former state legislator Steve Dyer said that such funding must be structured in a way to “make it beneficial to be a good school.’’
In the current state budget, every charter school–even the state’s chronically failing ones—received an increase, said Dyer, the education fellow at Innovation Ohio. Many traditional schools, even some of the best, saw funding cuts.
“For too long, politics have played havoc with our charter schools,’’ Dyer said. Dyer previously produced an analysis that showed two of the worst charter chains, White Hat and Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, have lavished legislators with millions in campaign donations and been made exempt from past reforms.
If you’d like to compare the performance of your local school district to charter schools in your area, please visit www.KnowYourCharter.com. It’s a great resource.
Meanwhile, if you want to see how your local area school district is affected by this state funding formula that unfairly favors charter schools, you can find that info here, in this spreadsheet.