Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ohio Charters Spend Far More on Administration Than Publics

Since today is Charter Day in the Ohio Senate -- the day when Charter Schools testify about the state's biennial budget -- I figured now would be as good a time as any to look at how efficiently Charter Schools are spending the now $828 million Ohio taxpayers are sending them, according to their April payment report.

Looking at the Ohio Department of Education's Power User reports, I was able to get a breakdown of all expenditures for the 2010-2011 school year for Charters and Traditional Public Schools, located here and here, respectively.

The average Charter School (including brick-and-mortar and virtual schools) spends four times as much per pupil on administrative costs as the average public school building, and about twice as much as the average district.

As a result of these much larger percentage expenditures being spent on administration, Charter Schools spend a lower percentage of their money than Traditional Public Schools on instructional services, staff and pupil support, as well as building operations. Charters spend a much lower percentage of their money on pupil support (4.4% vs. about 10% in the Traditional Public Schools) and operations (about 9% vs. about 19% for Traditional Public Schools).

And overall, once again, Ohio's brick and mortar Charter Schools spend $54 more per pupil than the average public school, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

If Charters were performing better, perhaps you could overlook some of this. However, when every child in Ohio is receiving, on average, 6.5% less state revenue because of how Charters are funded, all while 3 out of 4 Charters are slated to receive Fs on the new state report card, and 40% of the money sent to rated Charters last year went to Charters that rated worse on both of the state's major performance measures than the districts from whence they received their money and kids, well, there needs to be serious revision of this program.

I don't imagine much of this was discussed at the Charter Day in Columbus. Here's hoping it will be discussed at some point.