The Sugarcreek-Bellbrook Board of Education recently drafted a letter the Governor and the 131st Ohio General Assembly urging radical and comprehensive changes to state laws to ensure academic and financial accountability for charter schools, which unlike common public schools are not operated as non-profit organizations and geared toward the success of students.
“If House Bill 64 passes, at this point, charter schools stand to gain approximately $900M, projecting a potential of exceeding $1B by 2017,” said Bellbrook Board of Education board member, Kathy Kingston. “Other districts, like ours, will be losing money from the state if this bill passes as it’s currently worded.”
Following an OSBA dinner and hearing the details involving House Bill 64, which is a budgetary bill, Kingston didn’t like what she heard. Not only was she unhappy with the fact that the Bellbrook schools stand to potentially lose needed funds, she was unhappy with the leniency provided to charter schools. When she returned, Kingston conferred with Superintendant, Dr. Keith St. Pierre and BOE board members to create a resolution to be sent to the powers above to pursue changes in state laws to help make the education organization on even playing field for all educational institutions and keep education the main goal and not money.
Ohio’s common public schools are the sixth largest school system in the nation and serve more than 1.8M students; 2,599 of those students are in the Sugarcreek-Bellbrook school system. Charter schools were originally established as an optional educational resource for specific geographic areas to provide choices to parents and students. They became online schools, but recently expanded to privately owned, small businesses around the country. Now, Ohio charter schools serve 95,000 and provide an alternative education. But, like any business for profit, quality of the service is not always the goal; whether, the income of the business. The Sugarcreek-Bellbrook Board of Education would like to see that change.
“Nearly one-half of Ohio’s common public schools anticipate significant funding cuts by 2017, even though the state has an increase of $459M for funding in education.” Kingston said.
According to the Department of Ohio Department of Education, 40.1% of Ohio charter school students are failing academically compared to only 1.5% of Ohio’s common public school students. Ohio laws governing charter schools exempt them from over 200 mandates requirements of common public schools. These discrepancies are a clear detriment to the financial health and maintenance to common public schools. The funding losses to common public school systems negatively impact the community’s ability to sustain adequate financial support of its school district. It creates a detrimental burden to tax payers. Further, tax payers have limited to no access to information as to how their tax dollars are being spent and the education performance levels of charter schools. By having such leniencies in an organization, it’s felt, by this board, that it might pave the way for negligence, incompetency, fraud or corrupt behaviors in the charter school system.
The Sugarcreek-Bellbrook Board of Education board members drafted out a letter asking the Ohio Governor and the 131st Ohio General Assembly to take these concerns into consideration and pass laws pertaining to charter schools that will:
1. Provide laws to charter schools that are equal to but not less than laws of accountability and transparency of common public schools;
2. Provide laws regulating and limiting the per pupil funds to charter schools that are not to exceed those of the average per pupil funds provided to common public schools; and
3. Provide laws that govern the state and local authority to oversee and monitor the educational performances of charter schools to guarantee a quality education as the main thrust of the education institution.
The Board of Education board members want their recommendations to be heard and considered. They plan to also submit the resolution to the Senate President, Speakers of the House, House Chair of the Education Committee, and the Finance Committees of Primary and Secondary Education, the Senator and Ohio Representatives.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m. in the Bellbrook High School located at 3737 Upper Bellbrook Rd.