Speaker: Charter schools take money from public schools
ELIDA — William Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding executive director, said it is time for the state to end a failed attempt at charter schools.
Phillis was the guest speaker Tuesday at a school funding forum held at Elida High School. The crowd of about 30 was well represented by administration and staff from local school districts.
Phillis said the original concept of charter schools was for more school choice and to free schools from regulations in order to be more creative and innovative. However, he said a lack of oversight has turned charter schools into nothing more than money-making machines.
“It has rapidly expanded in Ohio, Phillis said. “The $10 million experiment become operational in Ohio in fiscal year 1999,” Phillis said. It expanded to a $50 million project in 2000 and $91 million in 2001.”
Phillis said it has now turned into a $1 billion enterprise in Ohio. He said they are sucking money out of public schools, that have proved to have a much better track record.
Phillis, who spent much of his career as an educator and and school administrator, said charter schools falsely sell themselves as good alternatives.
“You hear them referred to as a “community school,” Phillis said. “That is a bunch of baloney. Elida Schools are a community school. I love the public schools because they develop a sense of community and country.”
Elida schools Treasurer Joel Parker pointed out several interesting facts about the effect of charter schools locally. In Allen County, he said Lima City Schools loses about $2.9 million to charter schools and Elida loses about $1.1 million. Shawnee loses $426,000 and Bath loses $307,000. Parker said with the Elida district receiving an average of $3,556 per pupil in state funding, it means the district loses about $2,344 for each student that goes to a charter school.
He pointed out two charter schools in particular, ECOT and the Ohio Virtual Academy. The Elida district loses about $178,000 to ECOT and $172,000 to the Virtual Learning Academy.
“The graduation rate at ECOT is 35 percent and they gave out $1.3 million to political campaigns,” Parker said. “The Ohio Virtual Academy was founded by junk bond dealer Michael Milken. I think that says a lot right there.”
Phillis said school districts and their supporting taxpayers need to be more active on the subject.
Initially, he said funding needs corrected so public districts are not subsidizing charters. He also said districts should also develop and implement plans to recover charter students. Elida plans on discussing the addition of online schooling at its next board meeting in an effort to recover some of those lost students.
He also called on school districts to start billing the Ohio Department of Education for local money lost to charter schools, a practice that many school districts have already picked up on. He also encouraged support for Senate Bill 298, legislation that would force more accountability on charter schools.
“Tethullah Gulen, who is connected to 19 charter schools in Ohio, is worth $25 billion,” Phillis said. “He is using Ohio charter schools to fund the Turkish uprising. It is ludicrous, it is amazing. Where is the outrage. It needs to be discussed.”