Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Districts Bill State for More than $200 million in Charter School Funding

There's something happening here.

With apologies to Buffalo Springfield, in Charter School Finance World something really is happening, and it's started at the grass roots.

Starting with Woodridge Local Schools in Summit County, districts across the state have invoiced the State of Ohio for past payments made to charter schools from districts' state funding. Looking at news stories and available public records, I've calculated that about 30 districts have billed the state for more than $200 million in past charter school transfers.

However, that amount is probably higher because on one district, I assumed the invoice was for one year because that was the only figure I could find. But I'm sure the bill was for more years. Meanwhile, on at least 3 others, I couldn't find the actual bill amount, but I know there are invoices.

So we have what could be north of a quarter billion dollars worth of invoices sent to the state by a growing number of school districts.

While some call this a "stunt", I think it's more than that. It's local school districts finally standing up for their kids and against the moneyed interests that have driven Ohio's charter schools into a ditch of national ridicule.

The root of all this stems from the state's funding system, which pits districts against charters and reduces state funding for kids not in charters, sometimes substantially.

All you need to do is look at a finance report from any district and calculate what the per pupil funding amount is before charters get their kids and money, then how much kids in the district get after charters get their money and kids. Kids in some places like Columbus and Cincinnati lose almost 1/4 of their state revenue because charters get paid so much more by the state.

This means local property taxpayers have to make up the difference, or services for the kids in these districts get reduced. And in some locations, there isn't enough local revenue to make up the difference, so overall per pupil funding goes down.

I'm encouraged that Ohio Legislative Leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize this problem and are working to fix it. No parent's choice should adversely impact the educational opportunities afforded another parent's children.

Unfortunately, the current system does just that. Stunt or not, this Invoice Revolution is letting people know about the problem, and that is indeed worthwhile.


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