July 30, 2015

Report: Unfair Funding – How Charter Schools Win & Traditional Schools Lose

Research Overview

Innovation Ohio has analyzed data from the Ohio Department of Education that demonstrates that the way charter schools are funded in this state has a profoundly negative impact on the resources that remain for the 1.6 million kids in Ohio’s traditional public schools.

In the vast majority of cases — even in many urban school districts — the state is transferring money to charter schools that perform substantially worse than the public schools from which the students supposedly “escaped.”

Key Findings:

  • Because of the $774 million deducted from traditional public schools in FY 2012 to fund charters, children in traditional public schools received, on average, $235 (or 6.5%) less state aid than the state itself said they needed.
  • More than 90% of the money sent to rated charter schools in the 2011-2012 school year went to charters that on average score significantly lower on the Performance Index Score than the public schools students had left.
  • Over 40% of state funding for charters in 2011-2012 ($326 million) was transferred from traditional public districts that performed better on both the State Report Card and Performance Index.

Read the full report.

Read the press release.

Spreadsheet: change in state per pupil funding after charter deduction, by school district



  1. I don’t have time to read the whole report right now, but I do hope that they included two facts that really bother me. 1) The State pays more with the vouchers than the “choice” schools charge tuition to students without vouchers. What a waste of money! Why not just pay the tuition, and not more?
    2) The voucher money is taken from the State foundation aid a school district gets, on a per pupil basis. The problem is the local public school district might not get the same amount per pupil in aid. That means that the local school district has to use local tax payer money–money from levies–to make up the difference. The legislature was duped to believe that local schools would not be impacted monetarily. Example: School District receives $3,000 per pupil in basic aid. The voucher money taken out of the basic aid is $5,000 per pupil. Therefore, the local tax payer is contributing (or making up) $2,000 per pupil. And, that money that is voted on with language that says it is for the local public school district, has NO tax payer oversight or accountability. Does not even sound legal! And, if the local school can’t pass a levy, the public school is impacted, but the choice schools are not. Unfair!

  2. The report is only counting state aid while ignoring the fact that Ohio public schools receive lots of local funding (charter schools do not). In other words, the report shows that if you compare the total charter school funding to a fraction of the public school funding, it looks like charter schools get more per pupil. But that’s a very misleading comparison.

    • Terra Goodnight says:

      Here’s a response from Stephen Dyer:

      Actually, brick and mortar charters cost more per pupil overall than traditional public schools in Ohio now. http://innovationohio.org/2013/01/24/news-release-ios-taxpayer-rip-off-of-the-week-ohio-charter-schools-more-expensive-less-effective/ That includes local funding.

      The focus of the report is that in part because Charters get so much more state money than traditional publics from the state, kids in traditional publics get 6.5% less revenue than the state says they need. That is made up for with cuts or increased property taxes. So there are real consequences to overpaying Charter Schools, and it results in fewer opportunities for the 90% of Ohio’s kids not in Charter Schools.

      We are suggesting fixes that could help alleviate the situation and provide enough revenue for successful Charters to thrive. We just don’t want to keep public school kids from achieving their potential to prop up bad Charter Schools.

  3. This does not take into account that property tax money stays with the home school and does not follow the student. In all actuality public schools are benefiting from charter school because they keep the property tax money and do not have to educate the child. If in fact all charters were closed most school districts would be in the red big time. It is true charters get more state funding but that does not compare to the loss of tax property money. I do not like the charter school system but you really need to study how the funding works and then you will understand why public school are not actually making a big fuss over losing that state funding.

  4. Charter schools should have the same oversight as public schools since public money runs them. Many are poorly rated and many more have the money stolen by employees.


  1. […] — 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 […]

  2. […] on the Record, WOSU-TV, Columbus, 11 a.m.. Topics include IO’s report on the cost to the state of charter schools from earlier this week and the Kasich tax […]

  3. […] Communications Director Dale Butland explains our recent report, Unfair Funding – How Charter Schools Win and Traditional Schools Lose, to Mike Thompson and the panel on Columbus on the Record last […]

  4. […] that information, you have to turn to the progressive state group Innovation Ohio who earlier this year found that, in the 2011-2012 school year, the state’s enthusiastic support […]

  5. […] But that’s basic Kasich, repeat the false narrative of being a uniter not a divider, while routinely converting massive amounts of public dollars into shameless private profits. To further evaluate how Ohio charter schools compare to Ohio public schools, find that information provided by Innovation Ohio here. […]

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