Do charters take money from Cincinnati Public kids?

COLUMBUS – Charter schools take away money intended to pay for the education of students who stay in the Cincinnati Public Schools system, according to a report by a group critical of Ohio's charter school system.

Ohio has delegated $3,600 in state taxpayer money to pay for the education of each student who lives in the Cincinnati Public district. If a student attends a charter school instead, the district must contribute at least $5,800 to the charter school – much more than the per-student amount it received from the state.

That puts a strain on school systems' ability to educate the children who are left in the district, said Stephen Dyer, a former Democratic state representative who now works at left-leaning think tank Innovation Ohio, which co-authored the study. Schools may have to cut programs, or they may have to ask voters to approve property or income tax hikes to help make up for the difference, he said.

"We need to find a way to fund charters that doesn't hurt kids who aren't in charters – which is the vast majority of students in Ohio," Dyer said Tuesday. Dyer's group authored the study with the Ohio Education Association, a longtime opponent of charter schools.

Democrats and teacher union groups – and, increasingly, Republicans – have called for increased oversight of the state's often low-performing charter schools, which are run by independent groups but paid for with taxpayer money.

Some of Southwest Ohio's three dozen charter schools are high-performing and well-run, but many have closed after financial problems or poor academic marks. Other charters have been marred by criminal charges and even investigations by the FBI. The links between some charter schools and powerful, GOP-leaning donors have increased the controversy surrounding the schools.

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