Published: November 16, 2010
Debate Continues Over Charter School Funding
By Tanya Hutchins
Charter schools say they don't receive equal state funding. Administrators, parents & state lawmakers have differing opinions.
Horizon Science Academy's Middle School is in Continuous Improvement status on its state report card, the same status as Colulmbus City Schools. But, the Director of Horizon says when it comes to funding, the similarities end.
Charter schools do not receive funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, unlike traditional public schools.
"I don't know what the best solution is, whether having the school facilities money or having access to the current school buildings that maybe the Columbus City School District isn't using will help a whole lot," said Onder Sechen, Director of Horizon Science Academy's middle school in Columbus.
Sechen says he is making do with what he has, but there is always room for improvement.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission's Chief Financial Officer says there is a small loan guarantee program for charter schools but not a grant program. "Our main program is for grants. There is a state and local share, but our state money is a grant. There's never been a grant program with state money for the charter schools," said Eric Bode.
Bode said work on 784 new or renovated buildings has been completed, including 100 that opened last year.
After 12 years, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has disbursed $8.5 billion. A spokesperson for the commission said total state and local money spent statewide amounts to $4 million each day.
The Ohio PTA has an official position on charter schools. "We actually support the philosophy of charter schools and education. There are always alternative, different ways to educate our children, as long as they don't take away funding from our traditional public schools and that they're held accountable for the monies that they receive," said Debbie Tidwell, President of the Ohio PTA.
Linda Gleckner is a parent from Columbus who has children in traditional public schools. She attended an Ohio PTA Conference on Advocacy at the Vern Riffe Center Tuesday. "As a taxpayer whose children are in the traditional public schools, I'm happy that my money is going to my public schools, but I would like them (lawmakers) to investigate how the money would be more equally distributed among charter schools," Gleckner said.
"If it's public and it's public funds, then they should get a share of that money as well," said Lorie Roan, a parent from Parma, where school tax levies have failed at least seven times.
Gleckner and Roan say they'd like to learn more about school funding and the amount of money that goes to charter schools.
NBC 4 has received calls and emails from some parents questioning the quality of charter schools. The station has also received communication from charter school parents praising school choice and asking for the state to give charters time to raise performance levels among students who have transferred from traditional schools below grade level.
HORIZON SCIENCE ACADEMYS DBA CONCEPT SCHOOLS SEEKS $93 MILLION IN BONDS - CLICK BELOW