April 24, 2014

News Release: Charter Schools Cost State Twice as Much per Student as Traditional Schools

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Charter Schools Cost State Twice as Much per Student as Traditional Schools

Report Finds “Deduction” System Overpays Charters, Shortchanges Traditional Students; Says Majority of Charter Money Goes to Poorer Performing Schools

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new report today which finds that charter schools not only cost the state twice as much money per student as traditional schools, but that the “deduction system” currently used to fund them “has a profoundly negative impact on the 90% of Ohio children who remain in traditional public schools.” The study also found that most of the state money transferred to charters went to schools with worse student performance scores than the school districts from which the money and students came.

Specific findings of the study include:

  • In FY 2012, charter schools received $7,141 per pupil in state money — more than twice the $3,399 traditional public schools received from the state after charter deductions;
  • Charter school funding is based on the cost of educating kids in a traditional school, despite the fact that charters have far lower actual costs. Charters pay teachers less, have no student transportation expenses, and are exempt from some 270 legal and regulatory requirements with which traditional schools must comply.
  • The resulting overpayment to charters comes at the expense of traditional school students. In FY 2012, for example, the $774 million transferred to charters gave traditional school children, on average, 6.5% less funding than the state said they needed.
  • Although proponents of “school choice” often cast charter schools as superior to traditional schools, 85% of those who transferred in the 2011-12 school year left districts with better state performance results than the charters to which they went.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“Many Ohioans have no idea that the state is paying twice as much per pupil for charter schools than it does for traditional public schools. Fewer still know that the way we fund charter schools financially penalizes the 90% of Ohio children who stay in traditional schools. And how many parents — whose ‘school choice’ is too often swayed by slick and misleading television advertising — know that most kids transfer to charter schools whose performance is worse than the traditional schools they left?

“Now that Gov. Kasich has proposed a new school funding system, we have a perfect opportunity to fix what’s wrong. Surely Ohio doesn’t want a funding system that overpays charters at the expense of traditional schools. Surely Ohioans don’t think charter schools should be paid more than they actually spend. And surely every parent and child deserves to know that charter schools and traditional schools will finally be held to the same level of academic accountability. Innovation Ohio stands ready to help the Governor and the General Assembly any way we can.”

Read the report.

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