Charter school proposal has opposition

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two state lawmakers say charter schools in Ohio need greater regulation, but their proposed law is being met with opposition.

Across the state, charter schools are taking $890 million tax dollars away from public schools with what critics say is very little oversight.

“We undergo an audit every year as a school district. That audit, they are in here for two to three months going over our books, making sure everything is on the up and up. Does that same standard apply to charter schools? The answer is no,” Boardman Local Schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said.

However, the Ohio Department of Education said charter schools are audited every year, and the results are posted on the state website.

Boardman receives some of the highest marks across the board when it comes to academic achievement. But still, every year the state takes away $2 million of local tax money.

Ohio officials said it costs $6,000 to educate a student. Boardman receives $1,200, with taxpayers expected to make up the $4,800 difference. When a student leaves for a charter school, they take the entire amount.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, and State Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus, said that needs to change.

“Here in the Valley, we have watched as millions of dollars have been siphoned off from A-rated public schools to go to failing charter schools,” Carney said.

Schiavoni said charter schools are not holding to the promises they make to parents. More than $500,000 is sent from Boardman to failing charter schools.

“If a school is not performing, they should be shut down. So we need to address the closure issues so we have good charter schools only and we don’t have a few good charter schools and a bunch of bad ones because that is what we have now,” Schiavoni said.

“Once that money leaves our school district, leaves Columbus and goes into the charter school system, taxpayers are written off. That is now their private money,” Lazzeri said.

The lawmakers said parents should pressure their charter school administrators for greater accountability until the law is debated in Columbus.

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