With Governor Kasich heading to Medina to deliver his State of the State address tonight, it’s a good time to take a look at how his policies, specifically his state funding decisions, are affecting the Medina City School district.
The Medina City School District enrolls over 7,000 students. The district has received a rating of either Excellent (“A”) or Excellent with Distinction (“A+”) since 2006 from the Ohio Department of Education. Despite its top rating over the years, the district has continually lost students to charter schools – none of which is even located in Medina County.
Medina City has always been ranked in the top 25% of school districts over that time frame in Performance Index Score, a composite of their student achievement test results, and has met 100% (24 out of 24) of the state standards for the for the last four years. This means that the district has met the state’s benchmark for students demonstrating proficiency on every state standardized test.
By all accounts, Medina is one of Ohio’s high-performing school districts.
Despite this, Medina’s public schools have lost 4.4 million dollars in state funding under the Kasich budgets with more money being diverted to low-performing charter schools.
While charter schools are only permitted to open only in areas where there are low-performing public schools, Ohio law contains a loophole that allows charter school operators to choose their own enrollment boundaries once a school is up and running. In the case of Medina , no charter school has ever opened with the school district’s enrollment area, yet the district still lost 182 students to charter schools located as far away as Toledo and Columbus (online schools) last year alone. These students took more than $1.1 million out of Medina’s budget.
Let’s break that down. In FY13, Medina received $15,337,753.81 in initial state funding, or an average of $2,042.52 per pupil. Also in FY13, Medina was forced by the state to transfer a total of $1,163,031.66 to 14 different charter schools to pay for the 182.4 students (the decimals occur because of student transfers) who left the high-performing school district to enroll in these charter school options. That cost the district an average of $6,376.27 per pupil. Again, not a single one of these charter schools is located within the city boundaries of Medina, or Medina County.
In the chart below, you can see the charter schools that received funding from Medina and the per pupil amounts.
Remember, Medina initially received only $2,043 from the state for each of those students. It is now losing (by design in state law) an average of approximately $6,400 per pupil for those very same students. When we compare the remaining state funds to the number of students who stayed in Medina, the average amount of state funding drops below $2,000:
Another way to look at these figures is that the exit of only 2.4% of the students living in the district resulted in the transfer of three times the amount of money – 7.6% – received from the state to charter schools:
As we mentioned earlier, Medina is a high-performing school district. Along with high student achievement scores, Medina also has been regularly graduating over 95% of its students for the past decade.
By comparison, the charter schools that are taking money away from the school district are performing much worse. Only one of the schools, Menlo Park, puts up similar achievement scores, and they advertise themselves as “Ohio’s only tuition free school for gifted children”. Any school that selectively enrolls only the highest achieving children would naturally compare favorably. The other charter schools are not even close to putting up Medina City’s numbers.
There are five schools that pull the majority of students and funds from Medina:
- Alternative Education Academy is an online school located in Toledo. Last year, the school met only four out of the 24 state standards after meeting only five (out of 26) in each of the three previous years. Last year’s graduation rate was only 22.8%. In the prior two years, the school’s graduation rates were 23.1% and 21.5%.
- Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is Ohio’s largest online charter school and is based in Columbus, Ohio, 124 miles away from the city of Medina. The Medina City School District lost more than $180,000 to this school that put up a graduation rate of only 37.8% last year and 35.4% the year before. In addition, ECOT only met three out the 24 state standards in 2012-13, down from four and five (out of 26) in the prior two years, respectively.
- Ohio Connections Academy, Inc., is an online school located in Cleveland. The shining star of this motley crew, Ohio Connections Academy, Inc., has met 15 of the state standards for the past three straight years while graduating a less-than-impressive 47.9% of its students – the highest of this bunch, yet still half of Medina City’s graduation rate.
- Ohio Virtual Academy is another online school with a home address of Maumee, Ohio. This school pulls more students from Medina City than any other charter and took over $430,000 from the local school district last year. What did that money buy? Ohio Virtual Academy met 11 of the state standards and graduated 38.6% of its students – up from 33.6% the year before.
- Treca Digital Academy is another online program based out of Marion, Ohio. Treca is what is called a “dropout recovery program” for at-risk students. Treca’s graduation rates for the past two years are the lowest of this bunch – 20.2% and 18.5%.
Here are some questions for John Kasich as he heads to Medina for his State of the State speech tonight.
- Why has he cut more than $4 million in state funding from a consistently high-performing district like Medina?
- Why is John Kasich promoting a charter school system that allows low-performing schools to take students and money from Medina?
- Why are these charter schools that perform significantly lower given more than three times the amount of state funding per pupil than Medina receives?
- If John Kasich is seeking to improve educational outcomes for Ohio’s children, why do his policies reward low-performing charter schools over high-performing districts like Medina?
When John Kasich continues to allow a top school district like Medina City to lose students to poor performing charters, and when those students take away more money than the district was allocated in the first place, it’s time to start holding him accountable for providing answers.