I meant to have this post up last night, and I apologize for the delay. But I think you’ll find this follow up to yesterday’s analysis by Greg Mild was well worth the wait.

With the huge increase in funding to charter schools that Kasich is proposing in his budget, it seems worthwhile knowing where that money is going. According to Greg, the bulk of it will be going to charter schools who receive 2.5 times as much funding per student as public schools.

I used my editorial privileges to change Greg’s headline and trim the content down a little, and we’ve included a new intro Greg wrote specifically for Plunderbund. So if you feel like we’re missing anything from the original piece it’s 100% my fault. That said: I urge you to read the full report from which the following was taken. It’s takes a little time, but it is well worth the investment.

In the mean time, get prepared to be astonished, annoyed and downright angered by what you are about to read…

When Governor Kasich revealed his budget by promising to eliminate the state’s (alleged) $8 billion dollar deficit, he promised lift the current cap on the number of charter [officially “community”] schools in Ohio. One might reasonably expect that these community schools must save the state significant money for him to remove the limit, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few months, it’s that Kasich and Reasonable don’t belong in the same sentence.

The following information may at first seem like random statistics, but as you read, think about how all of these numbers begin to piece together to inhibit the positive growth of the local school districts in Ohio. From the skewed school funding model to the misapplied term “community” to the fact that taxpayers are being misled about where their money is being sent, the entire system is corrupt. And when Republican legislators complain that school unions are “unelected individuals” making decisions about public monies, remind them of how the funding of community schools redirects your tax dollars to “unelected individuals.” (The question of “unelected individuals” affecting tax dollars was repeatedly asked of witnesses by Representative William Coley during the March 14, 2011, House Commerce and Labor Committee hearing.)

ALL statistics used in this note have been pulled directly from the Ohio Department of Education website unless otherwise noted.


It is widely known that Ohio’s school funding model has been ruled unconstitutional. It is probably less widely understood that Ohio distributes tax dollars inequitably across school districts. There is a state average, but the amount that is used to provide state funding has complex factors which include the ability of a local district to raise revenue and a mix of special education factors. In FY09, for instance, the Olentangy Local School District received per pupil state revenue of $1,573.00, while the East Cleveland City School District received per pupil state revenue of $10,044. I certainly think the case can be made on either side of that gap to question the fairness, but neither district represents the lowest or highest percentage of per pupil revenue in the state. Likewise, it can get murky when trying to compare two districts that my be very different in terms of local economics.

Instead, let’s look at the distribution of state tax dollars to community schools and their surrounding school districts.

Franklin County includes 16 local school districts with an average per pupil state revenue of $3,957.94. New Albany-Plain Local SD is the lowest at $1,673.00 and Whitehall City SD is the highest at $6,254.00.

Community schools in Franklin County received an average per pupil state revenue of $9,416.81. Life Skills Center of Columbus North is the lowest at $6,011.67 and Noble Academy-Columbus at $65,376.66. That is not a misprint. The Ohio Department of Education reports that exact dollar amount as the per pupil revenue for Noble Academy. I’m willing to consider that number as being a data quirk, but what about the next five highest amounts?

$14,369.93 — Scholarts Preparatory School and Career Center for Children
$15,471.46 — Summit Academy Middle School-Columbus
$16,550.01 — FCI Academy
$21,396.76 — Summit Academy Transition High School Columbus
$28,902.61 — Oakstone Community School

Could these all be quirks? In fact, 49 Franklin County community schools are reported to have received state revenue in excess of Whitehall City SD’s amount. To clarify again, on average a Franklin County community school is paid $5458.87 over twice the amount per pupil that local school districts receive. Where does that money come from? The state of Ohio deducts it from the amount the local school district receives. Ohio sets the per pupil “foundation” funding amount and then reduces the amount paid to districts by imposing a “charge off” (intended to account for growth in property value) that results in the district receiving approximately 42% of the foundation amount.

Community schools are funded in a different way. According to the Ohio Department of Education: “Community school students are counted as part of the funded enrollment base for school districts and payments to community schools are deducted from the foundation payment of the school district where the community school student resides.”

What this means is that the community school is paid the full foundation amount for each student. Have you heard the argument that community schools don’t receive local taxes? Technically that’s true, but local districts are equally penalized by the state for receiving those taxes, so it’s essentially equalized through the state funding process.

Another very important piece of information that I don’t want to lose is the flow of money. Community school students are calculated into the full funding amount (enrollment base) allocated to a district. Once that full amount is calculated, then the payments are made to the community schools and districts. The state counts the funding against the local district. While the community schools received 100% of the per pupil amount, districts only receive their funding after the charge off, approximately 42% of the per pupil amount. These are state taxpayer dollars. Follow the money…

As I mentioned above, East Cleveland City SD received the highest per pupil revenue amount in Ohio for a public school district. By comparison, 45 community schools across the state received per pupil revenue in excess of $11,000.

Which sponsors are receiving the bulk of state taxes? Average per pupil amounts are listed below.

$9,891.35 – Buckeye Community Hope Foundation
$7,140.72 – Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc.
$11,656.79 – Kids Count of Dayton, Inc
$12,096.12 – Lucas County Educational Service Center
$7,901.98 – Ohio Council of Community Schools
$7,815.31 – St. Aloysius Orphanage

For comparison, the average for school districts in Ohio’s major counties where these community schools operate.

$4,076.68 – Cuyahoga County school districts
$7,972.16 – Cuyahoga County community schools

$3,957.94 – Franklin County school districts
$9,416.81 – Franklin County community schools

$3,898.18 – Hamilton County school districts
$8,222.72 – Hamilton County community schools

$4,140.14 – Lorain County school districts
$10,563.52 – Lorain County community schools

$3,764.38 – Lucas County school districts
$10,674.71 – Lucas County community schools

$4,733.93 – Mahoning County school districts
$9,973.40 – Mahoning County community schools

$4,903.56 – Montgomery County school districts
$9,303.61 – Montgomery County community schools

$3,724.82 – Summit County school districts
$9,345.75 – Summit County community schools

These numbers represent state tax dollars being paid out. Follow the money…

And finally, if someone further challenges these numbers by stating that community schools don’t receive any federal funding, simply mention that the Ohio Department of Education distributed the following:

Federal Charter School Grant funds to community schools in Ohio:
$13,127,140.81 in FY08
$9,631,732.50 in FY09
$10,442,565.76 in FY10
Including a top award of $550,000.00 each to five different schools.

Consolidated Federal Title Funds
$78,347,226.27 in FY08
$92,282,995.69 in FY09
$105,835,747.65 in FY10

ARRA Federal Title Funds
$69,548,505.52 in FY10

EACH student who attends a community (charter) school instead of a local public school costs the state nearly two and a half times the funding amount. Why would the Governor promote the expansion of a program that will cost the state MORE money when he’s trying to reduce the deficit?

Follow the money…