Charter School Critics Want Property Costs Reined In

Image by woodleywonderworks on Flickr
Image by woodleywonderworks on Flickr
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ProgressOhio, a consortium of liberal groups, is putting a spotlight on Imagine Schools, which manages 17 charter schools in the state. ProgressOhio’s Executive Director Brian Rothenberg says the schools are locking themselves into expensive building leases with SchoolHouse Finance, an Imagine Schools subsidiary.

“These for-profit management companies have become profiteers and are taking all of this public money, and they are spending over half of the public money in some cases to enrich themselves," Rothenberg said.

Ron Adler is president of the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education, a pro-charter school group. Adler says there are many variables that go into starting a charter school and the leasing agreements that follow are not always cut and dry.

"There is no facility dollars available for charter schools," Adler said. "Charter schools receive no local tax dollars so every school, on average, receives about 30 percent less funding than the local district schools.”

Adler says policymakers should revise the law to help out with property funding.

While Rothenberg would like lawmakers to require stiff boundaries on lease agreements to keep the contracts between 11 to 18 percent of the overall budget, a number he says is an industry standard.

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