Before Ohio expands funding for charter school facilities, state officials should seriously investigate the California charter facilities disaster.
A group called In The Public Interest (ITPI) engaged Dr. Gordon Lafer, associate professor at the University of Oregon, to research the flaws of the California charter facilities policy. An April 2017 report of Lafer’s findings reveals that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent each year without any meaningful strategy. Funds are thrown to charters with no statewide plan or local plans for efficient and effective use of the funds. Charter facilities are being built in locations where school facilities are not needed.
The charter industry in Ohio, by its very nature, duplicates the operations and facilities infrastructure, (e.g.) administration, programs, services, transportation, buildings, etc. If Ohio public officials succumb to charter lobby’s demands for massive facilities funding, the waste of public tax resources will further escalate.
School districts that participate in the state school facilities program have plans approved based on factors such as, enrollment projections, geography, programs and services being offered, transportation arrangements, etc. The same factors are vetted by school officials in those districts that do not receive state facilities assistance funds.
No state funds should be provided for charter facilities absent a statewide strategy that is transparent, efficient and accountable. If public money is allocated to charters for facilities, a legal mechanism must be established to ensure that charter facilities belong to the public, not private owners.
The Ohio charter industry is in horrible disarray because the original $10 million charter experiment morphed into a $10 billion conundrum with virtually no statewide strategy for planning an evaluation process. Ohio cannot afford to replicate this huge mistake by haphazardly throwing public money at charter facilities.
William L. Phillis, Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding