Districts Telling Lawmakers to Keep Stronger Accountability in HB 2
This week, the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network called on Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Legislature to ensure greater accountability and transparency among Ohio’s charter schools and stop the proliferation of poor performing schools that drain valuable resources from Ohio’s public education system.
Member districts are urging legislators to keep the stronger accountability and oversight provisions for charter school sponsors, and the greater means for seeing how charter school operators spend taxpayer dollars that are in the Senate version of the charter school reform bill, HB 2.
OH Students Need Schools That Work & OH Voters Need Their Tax Dollars Safeguarded
While the charter school movement was grounded in a desire to make things better for some of Ohio’s poorest children, 14 years of evidence shows that charter schools have not lived up to their promise of a better and innovative education at a lower cost.
Charter school funding, regardless of charter school quality or performance, is paid for through reduction from traditional public school districts’ state funds. In fact, ¾ of all Ohio public school districts’ state funds were transferred to equal or poorer performing charter schools.
“This does not sit well with the voters,” said Mary Ronan, Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent. "While Cincinnati Public Schools is not against charter schools per se and has sponsored two to meet specialized learning needs, our district and our voters are opposed to state and local funding being siphoned away from traditional public schools to pay for low-performing charter schools."
GCSAN Voters’ Concerns about Charter Schools
In a May 2015 survey of registered voters from Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren Counties, voters expressed their belief that charter schools who receive public money should be held to the same accountability and transparency standards as their public schools.In addition, voters also expressed concerns about local tax levies being shared with for-profit charter and online schools.
State funding for Ohio’s traditional public school districts declined by $515,000,000 in 2014-2015, compared to the 2010-2011 school year.
In many ways, Ohio’s charter school sector has not lived up to their promise of a better and innovative education at a lower price, with only 1 in 10 Ohio charter school students attending a school rated high performing.
“Mason gets $192,577 from the state for the 77 Mason students attending charter schools. Our local taxpayers are then on the hook for the remaining $432,317 that get sent to those charter schools - charter schools who are less accountable, less transparent, and by every measure lower performing than the Mason City School District,” said Dr. Gail Kist-Kline, Mason City Schools Superintendent. "All students deserve a high quality education and we need to assure that is taking place!”
Last year, 511 of 613 Ohio school districts received less per pupil under the State’s funding formula than the minimum $5,745 per pupil received by the charter schools.
“In addition to the finances, we are very concerned about the mystery surrounding how charter schools are using the public’s money - especially since most of the performance results we see are abysmal!” said Dr. Keith Kline, West Clermont Local Schools Superintendent. "Our Board of Education has already passed a resolution calling for all charter schools to be audited annually by the Ohio Auditor of State as a condition for receiving any state funds over $10,000."
Ohio’s Auditor of State, David Yost, and, most recently the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio, have reviewed charter school finances and shown there is insufficient transparency about how state money is being spent by charter school operators and their affiliated companies, as well as uncovering egregious violations and shortcomings.
The public has limited access to information about how taxpayer dollars are spent by charter school operators and their affiliated companies, many of whom are out-of-state organizations that operate for profit and receive more state funding per pupil than traditional public schools, even while maintaining lower overhead costs.
"To put it simply, every school in the state of Ohio that is funded by Ohio tax dollars should be held to the same standards,” said Chad Hilliker, Loveland City School District Superintendent. “Every school that receives public funding should be accountable for the same level of fiscal transparency and academic achievement.”
About the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network
The Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network is made up of 42 southwest Ohio school districts from Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren Counties who are committed to working together to take back local control of public schools.
Edgewood City Schools, Fairfield City Schools, Hamilton City Schools, Lakota Local Schools, Madison Local Schools, Middletown City Schools, Monroe Local Schools, Ross Local Schools, Talawanda Local School
Batavia Local Schools, Bethel-Tate Local Schools, Clermont North Eastern, Goshen Local Schools, Milford Exempted Village, New Richmond Exempted, West Clermont Local Schools, Williamsburg Local Schools
Cincinnati Public Schools, Deer Park Community City Schools, Finneytown Local Schools, Forest Hills Schools, Indian Hill Schools, Lockland Local Schools, Loveland City Schools, Madeira City Schools, Mariemont City Schools, Mt. Healthy City Schools, North College Hill City Schools, Northwest Local Schools, Norwood City Schools, Oak Hills Local Schools, Princeton City Schools, Reading Community Schools, St. Bernard/Elmwood Place Schools, Southwest Local Schools, Sycamore Community Schools, Three Rivers Local Schools, Wyoming City Schools, Winton Woods Schools
Kings Local Schools, Little Miami Local Schools, Mason City Schools, Springboro Community Schools