How Local Tax Revenues Subsidize Ohio Charter Schools

Many homeowners who vote for school levies are getting shortchanged. Instead of the additional money going to their neighborhood schools, more and more of it is being used to subsidize state-mandated funding of charter schools – many of them with poor academic records, according to a new study by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project.

Ohio has a formula that spells out how much state funding each student in each district should receive. Some of the money is from the state and some from local taxes.

But a rarely-discussed flaw in the formula results in traditional schools often receiving far fewer state dollars per pupil than charter schools for the same students. This forces districts to make up the lost state money by either raising their local taxes or cutting programs and services.

At, we have posted for the first time on one website how much state funding per pupil each school district should receive under the state’s formula. However, that’s not what the district ends up getting because charter schools (and other school choice options) deduct significant state dollars from Ohio’s public school districts. When you compare how much state funding per pupil each charter school receives with what school districts receive, it becomes abundantly clear that school districts often receive far fewer state dollars per pupil than the state pays to charter schools for the same students. This system then forces districts to make up the lost state revenue through local revenues or program cuts.

How School Funding Works

Every year, school districts in Ohio receive money from the state based on the number of students attending local schools and the amount of money the district can raise through local property taxes. Last year, the average amount of money sent by the state to local school districts was $4,149 per student.

While they are called public schools under Ohio law, charter schools are funded differently than traditional public schools. Rather than having a separate line item in the state budget, charter schools are funded with money that would have otherwise gone to a student’s home district. Under state law, the amount of state money that was deducted from a home district for charter schools last school year was $5,745[1] per student.[2] That amount is a state mandate.

However, data at shows that in the vast majority of cases that money is far more than what a school district would receive. Last year, 511 of 613 school districts in Ohio received less per pupil under the state’s formula than the minimum $5,745 per pupil received by charter schools.

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