(Many thanks to Guest Blogger Kelly Boyer Sagert!)
Bring up the subject of charter schools in Lorain and a significant percentage of people will have strong opinions about their educational value, both pro and con. At tonight’s Lorain City Schools (LCS) Board of Education meeting, it was the financial impact of charter schools on the public school system in the state of Ohio that was discussed.
Statistics were presented that showed how much of the state foundation funds earmarked for LCS are currently being transferred to community/charter schools. In 2002, approximately $1.1 million was transferred from LCS to charter schools; in 2008, because there are now 1,043 students living in the LCS district that are attending charter schools, more than $8.9 million of monies earmarked for LCS is being transferred. Losing $8.9 million, it was noted, is comparable to losing 12.1 mills on a levy.
In addition, there are 635 students living in the LCS district that are attending other public schools through the open enrollment option. This means that nearly $3.4 million of state foundation funds earmarked for LCS is being transferred to other public school systems (compared to $910,000 in 2002). This loss is comparable to losing 4.8 mills of levy funds. When combining the loss of funds to charter schools and through open enrollment, the school system is currently losing $12.3 million, comparable to 16.9 mills.
School Board President Jim Smith calls this loss of students – and the loss of the accompanying dollars – the “real culprit” in the financial troubles of the district. Smith added that the LCS district does gain some students through the open enrollment option, which somewhat mitigates the loss of students – but the district is losing significantly more students than it is gaining.
Lorain City Schools Director of Facilities Dan DeNicola stated that this student loss has had a “devastating” effect on the building project. Here is some history on the building project, first published in nearly this format at http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/:
In 2001, voters in the Lorain City School district passed a levy to build multiple new school buildings; because this levy passed, the district received a significant amount of state funds with which to construct the new buildings. To date, according to the school district’s web site, nine new buildings – seven elementary and two middle schools – have been constructed. Because enrollment in the Lorain City Schools has dropped since then, the state is not providing the school district with all of the funds initially awarded.
At tonight’s meeting, DeNicola said that the LCS have lost about 3,000 students since the time the levy passed in 2001, with current enrollment figures around 8,600. The state of Ohio, he added, is projecting LCS enrollment numbers of only 6,000 to 7,000 when determining the building space required for LCS to educate children. DeNicola called the situation “profoundly unfair.”