Ohio House Bill 153, one of John Kasich’s partisan budget bills, added new criteria for ranking Ohio’s school districts.  Back in 2011, we posted a series of articles looking at the ranking system as it was initially introduced.  Since then, some minor modifications have been made to the rankings, and the State Board of Education adopted a set of standards to clarify how the new financial ranking components would be implemented.

Once again, Ohio’s urban districts will be penalized by the state’s push to expand charters.

Going into effect in June 2014, districts will now be ranked based on expenditures in a variety of ways.  The relevant pieces of the law can be found in Ohio Revised Code 3302.20.

(C) Using the standards adopted under division (A) of this section and the data reported under sections 3301.0714 and 3314.17 of the Revised Code, the department shall compute annually for each fiscal year, the following:

(1) The percentage of each district’s, community school’s, or STEM school’s total operating budget spent for classroom instructional purposes;

(2) The statewide average percentage for all districts, community schools, and STEM schools combined spent for classroom instructional purposes;

(3) The average percentage for each of the categories of districts and schools established under division (B) of this section spent for classroom instructional purposes;

(4) The ranking of each district, community school, or STEM school within its respective category established under division (B) of this section according to the following:

(a) From highest to lowest percentage spent for classroom instructional purposes;

(b) From lowest to highest percentage spent for noninstructional purposes.

An important thing to point out at this point is that charter school funds “pass through” a district’s budget and are classified as “purchased services” when looking at a district’s expenditures.  Other expenditures that show up as “noninstructional” and that cost a district are related to transportation of students and can be found on a district’s books, too. These expenses are clearly spelled out in ODE documentation:

3.0 Expenditures
3.010 Personal Services – Employee salaries and wages, including extended time, severance
pay, supplemental contracts, etc.
3.020 Employees’ Retirement and Insurance Benefits – Retirement for all employees, Workers
Comp., early retirement incentives, Medicare, unemployment, pickup on pickup, and all
health-related insurances.
3.030 Purchased Services – Amounts paid for personal services rendered by personnel who are
not on the payroll of the school district, and other services which the school district may
purchase. Examples include but are not limited to legal fees, maintenance agreements,
utilities, and tuition paid for students attending other school districts, including open
enrollment and community schools.
3.040 Supplies and Materials – Examples include but are not limited to general supplies,
instructional materials including textbooks and media materials, bus fuel and tires, and all
other maintenance supplies.
3.050 Capital Outlay – This line includes expenditures for items having at least a five-year life
expectancy, such as land, buildings, improvements of grounds, equipment,
computers/technology, furnishings, buses, and vehicles.

In December 2012, when the State Board of Education adopted the standards for establishing the calculation of expenditures for the ranking of school districts, they DID apparently make an effort to remove the direct charter school funding from the ranking process.  Below is a section of those standards:

For purposes of classifying expenditures, annual operating expenditures shall include all expenses related to the delivery of educational services during the fiscal year. Non-operating expenses shall include debt service and capital outlay or other expenses inherent to the operation of the school or district but unrelated to delivery of educational services. Expenditures made by a school or district on behalf of, or in support of, another school, district, or governmental unit shall not be included in annual operating expenditures. Therefore, operating expenditures include such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, textbooks and materials, and energy costs, but excludes capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.

Sadly, this effort by the State Board doesn’t go nearly far enough and merely demonstrates an ignorance of the true expenses that Ohio’s urban districts incur by having large numbers of charters within their district boundaries.  Remember, the districts are responsible for providing the transportation of these charter students to their respective schools.  With that in mind, the same standards document explains that all pupil transportation costs are NOT excluded from the calculation of a district’s non-classroom expenditures:

4. Non-classroom expenditure shall equal the total of current operating expenditures in the following categories:
a. General administration;
b. School administration;
c. Operation and maintenance of plant;
d. Pupil transportation;
e. Other and non-specified support services; and
f. Food Service

What this means for the large urban districts, like Columbus, is that their total non-classroom expenditures, and subsequently the percentage spent on classroom and non-classroom expenditures, will always take a hit for providing the transportation to the plethora of charter schools within their district boundaries.

And lest you think this is a small amount, consider the numbers.  In Columbus, approximately 16,000 of 67,000 resident students attend charter schools.  Given that the district is responsible for transportation, and even accounting for online schools, this still means that roughly 22% of the district’s transportation budget could be attributed to the existence of charter schools.  Add in the obvious cost of hiring additional staff simply to manage the massive transportation process, and the district’s figures are skewed in the ranking system, ultimately resulting in a lower ranking for both per pupil expenditures AND the percentage of expenditures in both of the reporting categories — classroom and non-classroom.

Conversely, the charter schools don’t incur these non-classroom expenditures, they are subsequently able to claim that they spend more of their money on classroom expenditures and the end result is that the charter schools will receive more favorable (and erroneous) rankings in Kasich’s system.

When will Ohio’s charter schools be held to the same standards as Ohio’s urban schools?  And now that Kasich controls the State Board of Education, can we believe that this is simply an “oversight”?


An additional note: Districts also provide transportation to non-public schools, so Kasich’s exponential increase in the availability of vouchers is also increasing the urban schools’ transportation expenditures while not exempting those costs from this equation.


  • carrieee4

    You know it is about time that parents and other people who pay taxes and care about the students education in their districts need to make it know to those in Columbus that we will not sit still for this stupidity. They know where the expenditures go. They are not stupid. They just want to set the public education system up for failure!!!!!! Let’s get this information out to the public! We need to start educating them along with the students. How can we set up a group that would make pamphlets or other very easily understandable literature that can be distributed to all tax payers so they know what Kasich and other idiots in Columbus are doing to our kids and there education along with the taxpayers monies and where they are actually being used for.

  • jr6020

    So, should we support Issues 51 and 52? Levy money will go to charters for the first time. I live in the CPS and am torn about how to vote on the levy…reading this article makes me less likely to support the levy…any words of wisdom appreciated…James, Cols

  • JakeJohnson

    I don’t think it’s fair that my tax dollars will go into the wallets of for-profit charter school companies. If I lived in Columbus, I would definitely vote such issues down because I want my tax dollars to stay in the schools, not in some out-of-state guy’s 401K.

  • JakeJohnson

    Excellent reporting here. Good to see some hard-nosed facts!

  • jr6020

    I just voted today. I voted against the school levy after reading last night that online CD piece about a local charter not paying its teachers. Coleman and Kasich are trying to pull a fast one on us. Coleman says only non-profit charters would be eligible for levy funds but no where in the ballot language does it say that. Too many unanswered questions for me. If it fails, then bring the levy back next year without the charters and I will support it…

  • Gene

    It’s disgusting to feel like a religious fanatic like our political parties and attitudes have become due to outside influences, but the public schools are the hated enemy of religion. The Catholic Church considers itself the sole arbitrator and teachers of child education. This has been so promoted by the Catholics on Fox and people in power such as John Kasich under the guise of conservatism that everyone is fooled to want a private or so-called religious education for their children,. This is all an attempt to eventually destroy our public schools and is working. 16,000 charter and private students are about I/4 of all the students in the Columbus area and the charter schools are entitled to the use of public school facilities . The charter schools therefore would not have to provide school transportation, and probably football fields, gyms etc. which all public schools provide if they needed or wanted them. No wonder they can brag of how superior an education, they provide by their supporters but which news reports apparently do not say so.
    And Catholics like John Kasich are required to follow Catholic teaching and to support his religion above anything else if his religion requires it. This is one of the main reasons that the Catholics hiding behind the so- called political system or belief system called Conservatism who are nothing than the promoters of Catholic religious philosophy and its religious beliefs love Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is for their recognition and support of the Catholic religion.
    John Lonegan of New Jersey found this out when he ran on conservative principles and lost to Cory Booker and the Republican party and conservatives will not pay him the money they collected and promised him for his campaign. He is stuck with paying it out of his own pocket if he wants to treat those honestly who provided other support to him like advertising etc.
    Ask him if you don’t believe. Shawn Hannity , the phony traitorious draft dodging multi-millionaire college drop-out had John Lonegan on his show the night before the election and the next night , I listened for the first 1 1/2 hours and I never heard him mention John Lonagen. who lost to Cory Booker because Sean Hannity has said that they are waiting for a Conservative to come along and run on a Conservative ticket and now the Republicans are paying for listening to these government hating traitorious Tea Party and Conservatives because they are threatening to throw all the Republicans out of office who do not follow their radical fanatic , religious political agenda.

  • Gene

    I wonder how much state money has been spent on John Kasich’s father’s home to improve it since it’s said John Kasich doesn’t live in the Governor’s mansion but in his father’s home.
    It was said that much money was spent on G.W. Bush’s home in Texas due to him spending so much time there. And of course , thanks to him Presidents now have life-time protection. They must be afraid that they need it when they leave office lately and knowing they abuse the public and their Presidential position like they do.

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