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Community Schools Are Stealing Your Taxes

Community Schools Are Stealing Your Taxes

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Published by Greg Mild
John Kasich proposes a budget that provides a biased funding model for Ohio charter schools.
John Kasich proposes a budget that provides a biased funding model for Ohio charter schools.

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Published by: Greg Mild on May 07, 2011
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05/07/2011

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Greg Mild, Columbus Education Association
"Community" Schools are Stealing Your Taxes
This note has been brewing ever since Governor Kasich's budget announcement. This mayseem like random statistics to some, but just think about how these all piece together to inhibitthe positive growth of the local school districts in Ohio. From the skewed school funding modelto the misapplied term "community" to the fact that taxpayers are being misled about where their money is being sent, the entire system is corrupt. And when Republican legislators complainthat school unions are "unelected individuals" making decisions about public monies, remindthem of how the funding of community schools redirects your tax dollars to "unelectedindividuals." (The question of "unelected individuals" affecting tax dollars was repeatedly askedof witnesses by Representative Coley during the March 14, 2011, House Commerce and Labor Committee hearing.)ALL statistics used in this note have been pulled directly from the Ohio Department of Educationwebsite unless otherwise noted.First, let's talk about the community schools that exist in Ohio. Some schools are sponsored bylocal districts allowing the district to fund unique initiatives with some more "flexibility" in stateoversight. The large majority of community schools are sponsored by non-profit entities andmanaged by for-profit companies.Total community schools in Ohio: 339Number of counties with a sponsored community school: 37 (out of 88)Number of counties with a sponsor that is not a local school district: 23Number of community schools in eight counties: 265 (Franklin, Cuyahoga, Lucas, Montgomery,Hamilton, Summit, Mahoning, Lorain)To recap, we have for-profit community schools in only 23 out of 88 counties in Ohio and 78% of those schools are concentrated in only eight of those counties. Would you be surprised to findthose counties surrounding our major cities? Here's a map: http://www.digital-topo-maps.com/county-map/ohio.shtmlLet's look at some of our top sponsors:
Buckeye Community Hope Foundation
: 39 schools in 9 different counties"BCHF seeks to foster and nurture productive relationships with Ohio community schools,providing ongoing guidance and professional oversight geared toward the success of community schools and their students. Realizing that community schools must be botheducationally and fiscally sound, BCHF brings to its sponsorship role an unparalleledunderstanding of both teaching and the business of teaching. It is uniquely qualified to assistoperators of community schools in creating educational systems that are both effective and self-sufficient." (http://www.buckeyehope.org/)Did you catch that? Buckeye Hope doesn't actually operate the schools. Theysponsor 
other 
organizations to help run the schools. Follow the money . . .
Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc
: 23 schools in 5 counties"ERCO HISTORY
 
ERCO was founded in February 2005. We are an educational consulting firm that specializes inauthorizing community schools." (http://www.ercoinc.org/aboutus.html)That's it. That's their complete history. A member of their 6-
man
advisory board includes thisinformation in his bio: "James Brown has been the administrator of Life Skills Center – Daytonsince it was established in 2005 and this school was recently selected as the model schoolwithin the White Hat Management Organization." You'll also notice that these
consultants
helpget the schools up and running for an additional organization to actually run the schools. Followthe money . . .
Kids Count of Dayton, Inc
: 12 schools in 3 counties"Wright Dunbar, a school in Academic Emergency the previous year was suspended during theyear for violating the academic standards of Community Schools. The suspension was lifted inearly 2007 however; the school did not reopen for the remainder of the academic school year.Kids Count, made continuous contacts to secure all records and assets of that school with nosuccess." Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., Sponsorship Annual Report, 2006-2007"Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., which sponsors nine schools around the state, was given 45 daysby Taylor to submit a written plan to assist the school to prepare its documents for an audit. KidsCount also is prevented from opening any new charter schools as long as MontessoriRenaissance Experience’s books remain unauditable." Dayton Daily News, 3/17/2008.But rest assured:
"Kids Count of Dayton is a non-profit organization and therefore does not profit from itsbusiness."
"The office was staffed with an executive director, administrative assistant, and threeconsultants in the areas of curriculum, finance, and governance."
"Personnel Costs: $460,586; Benefits $92,117"And finally, why does Kids Count of 
Dayton
have half of its schools in Cincinnati and Columbus?Follow the money . . .
Lucas County Educational Service Center 
: 67 schools in 16 countiesI repeat, the
Lucas County 
ESC sponsors community schools in
16 different counties
. Only 10of the schools are actually located in Lucas County.There isn't much to add about this one except to once again point out the obvious that they donot operate these buildings. Their staff of 12 consultants simply take their cut as they getpermission from the state and then turn over the reigns of the school to any number of differentcompanies (at least 16 by my count). The most common company is Summit Academy Schools(http://www.summitacademies.com/) who incidentally also have three schools sponsored by theaforementioned Kids Count of Dayton. The Lucas County ESC website is devoid of meaningfulinformation (http://www.lucas.k12.oh.us/index.php?section=30).
Ohio Council of Community Schools
: 39 schools in 10 counties"Ohio Council of Community Schools, established in 1999, is a not-for-profit organizationresponsible for issuing and overseeing charters for Community Schools throughout Ohio. TheseCharters serves as contractual agreements regarding school’s standards, budgets, andoperating principles. We are proven and experienced, and provide charters to numerousCommunity Schools across the state." (http://www.ohioschools.org/)
 
OCCS is based out of Toledo and partners with 8 school management companies, 6 of whomare based out-of-state. Follow the money . . .And finally, my
 personal 
favorite:
St. Aloysius Orphanage
: 42 schools in 10 countiesI honestly was unaware that we had so many orphans in Ohio."St. Aloysius shares your desire to create a better life for children and families in our communitythrough education. We can help you start a school without having to balance the needs of traditional school systems and teachers unions.We contract with
Charter School Specialists
to provide you with a high quality team toaddress and meet the needs of existing and new community schools. For more informationabout our charter school sponsorship program please contact us at 513-242-7600."(http://www.staloysiuscincinnati.org/charter_school.htm)
Charter School Specialists
is a link that takes you to . . ."Charter School Specialists was founded in 2004 by Dave L. Cash after workingextensively at the Ohio Department of Education as an Education Consultant for charter schools throughout Ohio. Previously Mr. Cash served as a Principal for eight yearsworking with urban at-risk children. Today, Charter School Specialists employs over fifteen experts in various education and financial disciplines specializing in charter schools.At Charter School Specialists we assist developers, education managementorganizations, and school districts. Our team provides technical assistance related to thedevelopment of charter school applications and contracts; and guides developersthrough the charter school start-up process. We provide technical assistance to charter schools from pre-operation planning, through early operations, and ongoing schoolimprovement and data management.Charter School Specialists has assisted in the successful development andimplementation of over 80 schools. We have a stellar reputation in the charter schoolmovement and exist to provide value to the school choice public education system."(http://www.charterschoolspec.com/)For the record, Dave L. Cash does not hold any educator certificate or license in the state of Ohio. This is easily verified through the Ohio Department of Education website.Secondly, while the other sponsors I've mentioned sponsor a company that runs the school, St.Aloysius actually seems to sponsor a sponsor, who then sponsors a company to run the school.St. Aloysius is a registered 501(c)3 (non-profit organization), but Charter School Specialists is aLimited Liability Company (LLC). With the exception of ERCO which doesn't claim to be acompany, but a group of consultants, all of the others I've mentioned are considered non-profits.In this last case, however, we have a for-profit company sponsoring for-profit companies.Follow the money . . .
T
HE
M
ONEY
 
It is widely known that Ohio's school funding model has been ruled unconstitutional. It isprobably less widely understood that Ohio distributes tax dollars inequitably across school

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