As legislators continue to increase funding for traditional district schools in every budget, one segment of public schools is grossly underfunded according to State Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and some school leaders. Public charter schools receive a fraction of the funding that district schools get.
“Traditional public schools are constantly complaining that they are underfunded. Meanwhile public charter schools are funded, at best, no more than 70% of what a traditional public school is funded,” Brenner stated. “Most public charters are closer to 50%, based upon where they are located, and yet they outperform those resident district schools.”
“With that [lesser amount of funding], they are expected to perform at the same levels as our best traditional districts, yet they have to fund teachers, buildings, curriculum, support staff and testing, and deal with students, primarily impoverished and well behind academically, who have significant barriers to overcome,” Brenner added. “Clearly public charters should be funded at the same levels as traditional public schools. Then we would see major improvements for students in both school types.”
The President of Constellation Schools, Richard Lukich, told The Ohio Star, “Over the past 20 years the General Assembly has subjected Ohio’s public charter schools to excessive regulation and severe underfunding. The confluence of these two negative forces, besides being unfair to the tens-of-thousands of students who attend these alternative public schools, combine to make them unsustainable.”
“Our legislators need to recognize these schools as the asset they are to Ohio’s education system and provide them with the resources necessary to be successful,” Lukich declared. “Failure to do so will cause the collapse of Ohio’s public charter schools.”
Sedat Duman is President and CEO of Concept Schools. They are a STEM-focused, college-prep educational program. According to Duman they, “[Have] transformed the lives of about 6,500 K-12 students across 17 community [charter] schools in Ohio.”
“Recent ODE [Ohio Department of Education] 2018 report card data note that all Concept-network schools, Horizon Science Academies and Noble Academies, outperform their neighborhood district schools in multiple categories,” he said.
Duman noted, “It is a struggle with hiring and retaining effective teachers. [Our] network schools have an especially difficult time identifying teachers in high-need areas such as special education, math, science, and technology subjects. Given an equitable funding model, our schools would also be able to hire and retain additional academic and social-emotional experts to provide targeted interventions to ensure that we can close the achievement gap faster.”
In The Ohio Star article Charter School Advocates See Nothing ‘Fair’ in House Bill 305, the ‘Fair School Funding’ Plan, Lukich issued a warning for legislators who say publicly they support school choice, “Ohio’s General Assembly needs to keep in mind that if they continue under-funding and over-regulating Ohio’s public charter schools, that they will have accomplished what the teacher unions failed to do over the past two decades – put these free-market schools out of business.”
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