School Levies On the August Ballot

The following school districts have levies and issues on the August 2nd, 2016 ballot.

County District Type Description
Coshocton River View Local School District Combo Additional
Darke Mississinawa Valley Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Fairfield Walnut Township Local School District Levy Renewal
Fulton Fayette Local School District Combo Additional
Geauga Cardinal Local School District Levy Additional
Hamilton Southwest Local School District Combo Additional
Lorain Firelands Local School District Combo Additional
Mahoning Sebring Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Mercer Tri-Star Career Compact Participating School Districts Bond Issue N/A
Ottawa Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District Bond Issue N/A
Sandusky Woodmore Local School District Levy Renewal
Shelby Sidney City School District Levy Additional
Summit Manchester Local School District Combo Additional
Summit Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal

What the ECOT Lawsuit Means

The Dispatch reports that ECOT, the largest failing online charter school in the state, is suing the Department of education.

Facing the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, Ohio's largest online charter school sued the state Friday in an attempt to block an upcoming attendance audit.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow filed the lawsuit in an attempt to stop the Ohio Department of Education from requiring that the school provide records of daily student log-in times, which the lawsuit calls "a bait and switch." The state's preliminary attendance review of ECOT in May raised questions, noting that “most log-in times from these files did not substantiate 5 hours per day of log-in time for the students reviewed.”

The accuracy of attendance figures is crucial because they are the key factor in determining how much state money a school receives. ECOT gets about $107 million per year for more than 15,000 students.

Steve Dyer dissects the news to discover the true reason for the lawsuit

Instead of having to have kids log on to their computers for 920 hours in a school year, ECOT just had to provide them with 920 hours worth of course material. Whether the kid EVER logged on didn't matter. What mattered was whether ECOT made the material available.

And all they had to do to earn nearly $1 billion is provide kids with 920 hours of learning, not make sure they did it??

And, according to documents released by ECOT, ODE was cool with this?

I don't know what's more offensive, that ECOT can do this or that ODE signed off on it.

What does this mean? It means:

  1. ECOT doesn't care about its students, if it did, it would care how long and how often they are actually studying the provided material, not that it was simply provided to them.
  2. ECOT knows its students aren't spending the requisite amount of time studying, otherwise it would welcome an audit of its electronic attendance records.
  3. ODE is rotten to the core. If the alleged agreement between ECOT and ODE to allow this ridiculous arrangement is proven, ODE abandoned ECOTs students. It's the biggest scandal in ODE history.

The simple truth is this. Online only education does not work for K-12. Children require adult supervision and personal assistance in their learning journey, something online only schools are not providing.

Even with this high barrier to learning, Ohio's online charter schools are not even ensuring that their students are spending the time consuming the material necessary to learn. Instead they are cashing checks for work not performed, setting back their students years, all while draining scarce resources from the actual brick and mortar traditional schools that are inevitably picking up the pieces.

Can Ohio's politicians pull themselves away from the fat campaign checks being written by ECOT long enough to put an end to this ongoing tragedy before more students are irreparably harmed?

Study Shows Ohio Vouchers are Disaster for Students

The Fordham Foundation, a Corporate Education reform organization, performed a study of Ohio's EdChoice voucher program. It looks like they didn't get the result they were expecting.

Those eligible students (coming from these relatively high-performing public schools) who attend private schools appear to fare considerably worse than we predict that they would have performed had they remained in the public schools.

In order to preserve the figment that vouchers are a net positive, the report spins that the existence of vouchers causes competition which is why traditional public schools are so much better. Why competition isn't working in the other direction is left a mystery, until you dig into the poorly written report (its poorly written we suspect in order to hide the damaging findings) and realize their excuse of "competition" isn't actually supported by their own study

Taken together, the results of this report present a mixed bag of findings regarding the EdChoice voucher program. Although the evidence is not completely unambiguous, the weight of the evidence indicates that EdChoice eligibility improved reading and mathematics outcomes for the students affected. We suspect that this is coming through increased competition for lower-ranked public schools as well as a desire for these schools to improve to avoid losing students to the voucher program; we suspect that the competition is a leading explanation rather than merely avoidance of grading stigma because the regression-discontinuity approaches focusing on the second-best PI are designed to concentrate particularly on the voucher-eligibility component of the system, rather than on the school ratings themselves. 


  • The evidence is overwhelming that traditional schools are better than private voucher schools.
  • The only students positively affected by vouchers are students who don't use them
  • Studies should not "suspect" reasons for their results, but that's all we have

Here's a more leading explanation of why voucher schools perform worse than traditional public schools - THEY CARE MORE ABOUT PROFIT THAN STUDENTS, SO THAT'S WHERE THE RESOURCES ARE SPENT.

Another Corporate Education reform think tank, The74million, reads the report and tries to come up with 7 other excuses.

1. Blame standardized tests. Only now these tests, which corporate education reformers pushed, are a bad measure of school quality. Laughable.

2. It's the specific test. Apparently voucher schools don't hold their students accountable enough. Where's their "grit"?

3. It's early. We hearing this over and over. We just need more time. Sadly, much of the data in the Fordham study comes from 2008 - almost a decade of failure now. Time isn't the problem.

4. Over-regulation. If over-regulation of voucher schools is what is holding them back, how do traditional schools, which have far more regulation keep beating them handily?

5. Public schools have gotten better. Nice of them to say so, but perhaps public schools were never causing a national crisis to begin with, but it's hard to privatize something that's consistently good.

6. Under-regulation. Hard to argue here. Parents should know they are getting a bad deal for their child when the apply for an EdChoice voucher. More transparency would be great.

7. The concept itself. Ding, ding, ding. 

Vouchers, much like most charters in Ohio are not designed to help the students, they are designed to help people make money. We suspect a study of that would be very demonstrable.

Millions Wasted As Grant Money Goes to Closed Ohio Charter Schools

Another day, another report on how Ohio's charter schools are an academic and financial disaster for the state, its students and tax payers. This report comes from Innovation Ohio and is titled "BELLY UP: A REVIEW OF FEDERAL CHARTER SCHOOL PROGRAM GRANTS". The tag line speaks for itself:

How the U.S. Department of Education has given money hand-over-fist to Ohio charter schools that have closed and sometimes never even opened

From the report

Our latest analysis of the performance of Ohio Charter schools that have received federal Charter School Program (CSP) grants finds a staggering high rate of failure. At least 108 of the 292 charter schools that have received federal CSP funding since the 2006-07 school year have either closed or never opened.

CSP grants are geared toward the development and expansion of new charter schools, which can be a high-risk proposition. The 292 Ohio charter schools received $99.6 million in federal aid. $30 million went to the 108 schools that either closed or never opened.

Among our other findings:

  • Of those that failed, at least 26 Ohio charter schools that received nearly $4 million in federal CSP funding apparently never even opened and there are no available records to indicate that these public funds were returned;

  • The charter schools that have received CSP funding and received State Report Card grades in the 2014-2015 school year had a median Performance Index score that was lower than all but 15 Ohio school districts and would have been graded as a D.

Are Ohio's Charter Schools Damaging Property Values? Study Says Yes

A new study by Jason B. Cook of Cornell University, titled With “The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation,” finds not only does charter "competition" reduce federal and state funding for district schools, it also finds that charter competition has driven down local funding by depressing valuations of residential property.

The reduction is drastic. For every one percent of students transferring to a low quality charter school, property owners see the value of their properties plummet by 2.5% - or $2,500 per $100,000 of home valuation.

From section 4 of the study (emphasis added)

Unlike the effects of charter competition on federal and state revenues, the negative effect on local revenues is unexpected. I explore potential mechanisms in Panel C by decomposing local revenues into the contribution of local property taxes, school lunch funding, and all other local revenues in columns 8 through 10. While local revenues are decreasing across all three measures, I focus my discussion on local property taxes because they comprise 96.5 percent of local revenues (LSC, 2011). Charter competition can affect local property taxes through two main channels. First, competition can directly decrease appraised property values and, in turn, the base valuation being taxed. Second, charters can decrease the levied millage rates (i.e., one-tenth of one percent) that determine the fraction of the base property values being taxed.

I test these potential mechanisms in columns 11 through 13 of Panel D. In column 11, I present the effect of charter competition directly on the total appraised property values within the TPSD (Traditional Public School District). My estimates suggest that a percentage point increase in the fraction of TPSD students transferring to charters decreases real appraised property values by 2.5 percent. This property value measure aggregates residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and mineral properties, as well as other public properties (LSC, 2011).

Column 12 presents the effect of competition solely on appraised residential property values. Charter competition generates nearly identical percent losses for both total property values and residential property values. In column 13, I find that the millage rates tend to decrease as charter competition increases. A simple back-of-the-envelope decomposition reveals that a majority of the decrease in total revenues is driven by the change in total property values.

Here's the full study

Surprise Audit of Charter Schools Reveals Over 2,500 Students "Missing" But Billed For

The Ohio Auditor of State recently performed surprise visits at a random selection of Ohio's charter schools, to match up their claimed attendance to the number of actual students in classrooms on the day of the visit. This is the second time the Auditor has done this, and the second time the results are shocking.

Three charter schools were operating as virtual schools, despite only being authorized to operate as brick and mortar schools. How is it possible that ODE was unaware of this? No surprise then, that the Auditor, at his press conference said ODE was the worst run state agency.

Attendance at drop-out recovery charter schools was an appalling 34%. The best attendance measured by the Auditor at a drop-out recovery schools was a ridiculous 50%.

All told, if the attendance being measured by the Auditor is typical, then the 44 charter schools he visited have over-billed the state for more than 2,500 students - wasting well over $17,000,000. If this is typical of the charter sector at large, then Ohio is wasting ~$200 million to educate charter students not in the actual schools billing for them. This is money taken directly from traditional public schools.

Here's the full report.