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Ohio representative drafting law to return some charter school money to public schools

Legislation based on suggestion from Twinsburg Board of Education member Mark Curtis

by Gina Mace | Reporter Published: August 24, 2016 12:00 AM
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Twinsburg -- Based on a suggestion from a Twinsburg Board of Education member, a state representative has said she will craft legislation that could give misused money from charter schools back to public school districts, rather than have it sent back to the Ohio Department of Education.

The legislation, which Ohio Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-37) said is in its first draft, would return money from charter or community schools that is either misused, not spent on an actual student (perhaps a student who does not attend a charter school) to public school districts, rather than to the Ohio Department of Education.

The money would be recovered as a result of an enrollment audit or a financial audit by the state auditor.

"That money now goes back to the [Ohio] Department of Education," Twinsburg Board of Education Vice President Mark Curtis said during an Aug. 17 Board of Education meeting.

The draft legislation is the result of a suggestion made by Curtis during an Aug. 8 meeting with Roegner.

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Roegner said Curtis' suggestion made sense.

"We should be doing that anyway," she said.

School finances have deteriorated throughout the state, thanks to a reduction in state funding, brought on in part by the elimination of the tangible personal property tax.

Twinsburg expects to lose $3.5 million in revenue in 2017, and more than $11 million by 2020 in state funding.

Earlier this year, more than 60 Ohio public school districts, including Twinsburg, billed the Ohio Department of Education for $2.7 million, money that was taken from public school district coffers and given to charter schools to fund the students.

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The Twinsburg City School District receives $1,180 per student from the state; however the state deducts $6,647 from Twinsburg's fund for students attending charter schools. The state deducted $261,802 from Twinsburg School District state funds for fiscal year 2015.

Twinsburg superintendent Kathryn Powers said at the time that the $2.7 million invoice was an awareness campaign, letting taxpayers know where their money is going. District officials have said there is no real expectation of seeing the $2.7 million returned.

"We have tremendous support by our residents," Powers said. "Residents think they are passing levies to support Twinsburg schools. That's not exactly the case in this."

With Roegner's legislation, some of the money could find its way back to the districts.

"I've dealt a lot with charter schools during the last general assembly," Roegner said. "There is still so much to do to reform them. House Bill 2 [Community School Sponsorship and Management Act] is a great start."

Roegner said once the drafting process is complete, the bill could be introduced as early as September, and hearings could start when the General Assembly returns in November.

Although the Assembly recessed in June, representatives are still working in their districts, she said.

"It's a good time to meet with local officials and hear their concerns," Roegner said. "It's a good time to do things like this."

Email: gmace@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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