July 28, 2015

News Release: IO’s Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week – Ohio Charter Schools – More Expensive; Less Effective

Columbus – After a several month hiatus, progressive think tank Innovation Ohio today resumes its coveted “Taxpayer Rip-Off Of The Week” award. The Award is presented to legislators, policies or practices that provide especially outrageous examples of taxpayer abuse.

Getting 2013 off to a rousing start is this week’s winner: Ohio Charter Schools.

According to a recent analysis by the Kasich Administration’s own Department of Education, traditional public schools spend an average of $10,111 per pupil, while brick-and-mortar Charters spend an average of $10,165. In other words, (non-E-school) Charters cost $54 more per pupil than traditional schools. At the same time —according to the state’s “Performance Index Score”— Charters, on average, rank in the bottom 8% of all public schools in student performance.

The irony is obvious. When Charter schools first burst on the scene in Ohio a decade and a half ago, advocates promised they would deliver a better education at a lower cost. Now, 15 years and nearly $6 billion in taxpayer money later, the exact opposite is true: Charters are delivering a worse education at a higher cost.

Why Charters spend more per pupil is a mystery. They pay teachers about 40% less than traditional schools, they have no busing costs to contend with, and they’re exempt from roughly 200 different state regulations that traditional schools must pay to comply with.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“While there are certainly some outstanding Charter schools in Ohio, they are few and far between. Out of the over 300 charters in this state, fewer than two dozen rate in the top half of all public schools on the Performance Index Score.

“But more to the point, if the expenses of charters are less than those of traditional schools, why are taxpayers being asked to provide charters with twice as much state funding per pupil? If overall charter school student performance is worse, why isn’t the Kasich Administration loudly pushing for more charter ‘accountability’?

“And why in the world would the Administration and its General Assembly allies punish public schools by cutting their funding – while they reward Charters by letting them collect even more public money? This year, for the first time, in addition to their state funding, Cleveland charter schools will be able to siphon away a portion of the revenue raised through local property tax levies. And the governor and several top legislators say they’d like to replicate the Cleveland plan in other school districts across the state.

“Taxpayers might well wonder whether the millions of dollars in campaign contributions provided by for-profit Charter school operators has something to do with it. In the meantime, IO is delighted to present Ohio’s Charter Schools with 2013’s first Taxpayer Rip-off Award.”




  1. Kevin Griffin says:

    In addition to this it should be noted that public schools service all students, including those with severe mental and physical disabilities which can cost many times more than the average cost per child. Charters do not have the capacity to provide these children with the necessary services.

    • Marianne Lombardo says:

      There are over 30 Summit Academy charter schools across the state. They have specialized programs for students with Autism and Aspergers related syndromes. There are three other Autism specific schools – including Oakstone Academy in Columbus. Constellation has a school for kids with physical disabilities. Many are machine dependent. Lighthouse Academy in Cincinnati serves adolescents with severe mental health/behavioral issues, many with court involvement. The cost of a child’s special education needs are computed as part of the initial calculation of the state share. Special education funding follows the child to the school where he or she is educated. Most children with severe mental and physical disabilities are educated in specialized environments – most often a specialized charter school as described above, a consortium school (likely run by an ESC) or a private school – where their needs can best be met.

  2. Marianne Lombardo says:

    Very misleading. The average per pupil expenditure includes Federal Money. 70% of charters are located in High Poverty areas of the urban eight, thus get more Federal Title 1 dollars than the traditional district schools located in suburban and other lower poverty school districts. Yet, you compare charters to ALL districts, the vast majority of which do NOT get the Federal Title 1 dollars given to high poverty schools. It is VERY frustrating that people with political agendas distort facts about education. Compare Apples to Apples. Acknowledge that 87 of the charter schools are DROPOUT RECOVERY schools and 35 are schools serving Special Needs (kids with Autism and Aspergers – which again get much more specialized funding to cover kids’ needs). Be fair and remove these schools from your analysis of performance. And, when comparing funding, compare like schools to like schools.


  1. […] Sylvester, Ron. “IO’s Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week – Ohio Charter Schools – More Expensive; Less Effective.” Innovation Ohio.  January 25, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://innovationohio.org/2013/01/24/news-release-ios-taxpayer-rip-off-of-the-week-ohio-charter-scho… […]

  2. […] problem, as we’ve reported at IO before, is that the amount taken from the district and given to the Charter School is almost always more […]

Speak Your Mind